Amtrak’s Joe Boardman, Railroader of the Year: “We’re changing our direction, we have a strategy.”

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief

Railway Age’s January 2014 issue features an extensive, in-depth interview with the magazine’s Railroader of the Year, Amtrak President and CEO Joseph H. Boardman. In a wide-ranging conversation with Railway Age Editor-in-Chief William C. Vantuono, Boardman talks about his lifelong career in transportation, his tenure at Amtrak, and his views on not only the company’s future, but on the importance of transportation to the U.S. economy and the nation’s standing in the global economy.

“Joe Boardman is an individual of remarkable insight and passion,” said Vantuono. “He cares deeply about Amtrak’s customers and employees. His leadership style, quiet and unassuming yet at the same time strong and decisive, has contributed a great deal to Amtrak’s success, in the face of many challenges.”

A video of Railroader of the Year Joe Boardman’s interview with Railway Age can be accessed on the Railway Age website at The video, shot aboard Amtrak Business Car 10001, the Beech Grove, is sponsored by Amsted Rail.

Video highlights from the interview can be accessed on the Amtrak website at

Boardman’s complete Railroader of the Year interview is available on the Railway Age website at Additionally, the digital edition of the magazine’s January issue can be accessed at

Highlights from Joe Boardman’s Railroader of the Year interview with Railway Age:

• “Safety is the foundation for any transportation system, because if people don’t trust the safety of our operation, our company, customers aren’t going to flock to the trains. I also have a very important role in increasing revenues and reducing cost. Congress wants that; so does the public. They want to see a system that really produces efficiencies and provides a better service. Those are difficult things to do but they’re not insurmountable, and we’re seeing that today. We’re buying equipment, we’re increasing our revenues, we’re increasing our ridership, we’re changing our direction, we have a strategy.”

• “We have an excellent relationship with the freight railroads. They go far beyond for us in many cases. We fight with them over on-time performance and we want to be running first like we’re supposed to and all those kinds of things, but we’ve got good solid people at these freight railroads that understand our needs, that look at what we need to get done, what they need to get done, and work with us.”

• “We in this nation have become so darn negative in tearing down institutions, whatever they are, and are so expert at it that we don’t recognize that we need to stop. We need to join in common cause to move forward on the debt we owe to the future—our grandkids and beyond our grandkids, those who need to grow a global economy for this nation.”

• “Highways, railroads, aviation, ports: The nation is not well-served by those who are lobbying and demanding for only one source, one piece of the infrastructure that needs to be rebuilt. You can add in the water systems, the sewer systems, the electric grid. . . . We need to build infrastructure to grow this nation and grow our economy. It’s not just railroads—it’s all infrastructure.”

• “Railroads have not always worked well together. That’s absolutely critical for us for the future, especially the passenger side, and passenger with freight as well, but it’s a necessity for our nation to begin to find ways to work together, to find ways to advance what we know is going to be needed for the future.”

Joe Boardman is Railway Age’s 51st Railroader of the Year. He is the first Amtrak chief executive since the legendary W. Graham Claytor Jr. in 1989 to be named Railroader of the Year. Boardman will be honored on March 11, 2014, at Chicago’s Union League Club.

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