Andy Byford, nicknamed “Train Daddy” when he was President of MTA New York City Transit, will begin his new role as Senior Vice President for Amtrak’s high-speed rail (HSR) program, effective April 10, according to multiple news reports.
According to a Gothamist report, the hiring of Byford, who comes to Amtrak as the railroad is receiving $22 billion in new investment from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed in 2021, was announced in an internal Amtrak memo stating that he will be based in Washington, D.C., and will “ensure operational strategy alignment between new HSR programs and our current network.”
“Andy is widely respected in the industry and has a wealth of experience leading large transportation systems worldwide,” Amtrak officials said in the March 22 email to employees, according to a Streetsblog report.
Byford’s new gig, which was first reported by Streetsblog, comes six months after he announced that he would be resigning as Commissioner of Transport for London (TfR) and would be returning to the U.S.
Byford, a UK native, who also previously ran transit systems in Toronto and New South Wales, Australia, joined the MTA in 2018 and “quickly gained popularity across the five boroughs as the subway’s performance improved,” according to the Gothamist report.
His tenure in New York, according to the Streetsblog report, was “marked by increased on-time subway performance and the approval of $40 billion in proposed spending to modernize city subways and buses.”
“But he also publicly feuded with former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who in 2019, passed legislation that forced a restructuring of the MTA that ultimately stripped Byford of his oversight of transit construction projects,” according to the Gothamist report.
In 2020, Byford resigned as NYCT President, saying he had had enough of “interference” from the former governor, with whom he sparred over the cancellation of NYCT’s long-planned L train shutdown, and stated in his letter of resignation that “there were others at the agency who could perform this important, but reduced, service delivery role,” according to the Gothamist and Streetsblog reports. Byford then joined TfL and served in the role of Commissioner for two-and-a-half-years before resigning last September.
According to the Streetsblog report, Amtrak’s decision to hire Byford for a critical mission “earned plaudits” from Executive Director of MTA’s Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee Lisa Daglian.
“Having Andy Byford in that role means the whole nation can benefit from having a ‘Train Daddy’ and his wealth of experience,” Daglian said.
“He’s lived and worked in places where high speed rail actually exists and is in a great position to help bring it here. He’s got excellent relationships within the MTA that will help smooth the way as conversations about a multitude of projects continue. And he understands the complexity of the system and its components—and mostly, how to put riders first.”
Byford confirmed to NY1 that he would be taking on the newly created role at Amtrak but neither Byford nor Amtrak responded immediately to Streetsblog’s requests for comment.