NARP President Capon steps down

Written by Douglas John Bowen

Ross Capon, the face of the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) for 39 years on Capitol Hill, is stepping down from his role as president, and apparently will retire from the organization at year's end.

Dr. Larry Scott will serve as NARP acting president while the organization conducts a search for a permanent successor. Capon will serve as assistant to the president for the remainder of the calendar year.

In a statement Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, NARP Chairman Bob Stewart said, “Ross Capon has served NARP with great distinction during his 39 year tenure. He was assistant director for the year 1975, then served 32 years as executive director and has been president & CEO for the last five years. During Ross’s time at NARP, the Association’s recognition and influence significantly increased.”

Capon helped NARP become a major voice in advocating (most often defending) Amtrak from anti-rail partisans in Congress, while attempting to keep together diverse pro-rail voices, some of whom accuse Amtrak (and NARP) of favoring Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor (NEC) at the expense of other nationwide services, particularly long-distance trains. Capon repeatedly and ardently denied such accusations over the years.

But Capon did work, often behind the scenes, to improve Amtrak’s relationship with Class I freight railroads, whose rights-of-way Amtrak uses for most of the nation’s intercity passenger network. Capon helped cultivate communications between NARP and the Association of American Railroads and its CEO, Edward Hamberger, particularly as the Obama Administration showed more support for intercity passenger development and growth than its successors had.

Among other honors, Capon received Railway Age’s 2007 W. Graham Claytor Jr. Award for Distinguished Service to Passenger Transportation.

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