Joe Boardman speaks in The Trains Interview

Former Amtrak president criticizes former railroad employer for safety, operations, and dining service
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Joe Boardman
Bob Johnston
WAUKESHA, Wis. — Former Amtrak President Joe Boardman has strong words for his old railroad in the March 2019 issue of Trains Magazine.

In our monthly "The Trains Interview," Boardman discusses rail safety, operations, dining car service and offers a critical opinion of the passenger railroad under the leadership of Amtrak's two most recent presidents.

“Cost has become a driver in a way that it has begun to damage the system. We had an overall revenue goal. But individual management goals that influence monetary bonuses were based on cost targets, not revenue. The incentive program needs to be revamped so cutting expenses is not the sole focus," Boardman tells Trains' Passenger Columnist Bob Johnston.

Trains forwarded Boardman's statements along with these questions for Amtrak to respond to for News Wire:

"Can you explain any changes in Amtrak’s management bonus system that took place since Mr. Boardman left the company in 2016 and the reasons for these changes? Is revenue growth factored into the long term or short-term incentive plans? What other factors help determine the bonuses Amtrak managers receive?"

Through a representative, Amtrak replied:

"Since 2013 Amtrak has used incentive plans to help improve company performance. Employee incentive plans have been recommended by the Government Accounting Office and encouraged by Congress in PRIIA. Congress expects Amtrak to reduce costs, increase employee productivity and maximize the use of our resources and property.

"The FY 2016 short-term incentive plan was evenly based on achieving an adjusted operating loss target – achieved by a combination of revenue growth and expense control - and a customer service target. Amtrak’s incentive plan today has three metrics: operating loss, customer service and ridership.

"Like any business, we want to strike a balance between reducing the costs of operations and growing the ridership and revenue associated with the service we provide. This isn’t an either-or proposition -- our incentive plan aims to control costs and increase ridership and revenue. The better we are at providing service efficiently, the more resources we can invest into our long-standing capital needs and the more our customers will choose Amtrak as the way to travel."

The remainder of Boardman's interview is contained in the News section of the March issue, available in February to subscribers and newsstand readers.

has offered Amtrak the opportunity to respond to Boardman's full interview in a future printed issue of the magazine.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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