Amtrak honors Joe Szabo with Chicago dedication

Written by Douglas John Bowen

Amtrak on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 dedicated its Chicago railroad operations center as the Joseph C. Szabo Chicago Control Center, "in recognition of Szabo's contributions to the advancement of intercity passenger rail travel and railroad safety in the United States," according to the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP).

The Szabo Chicago Control Center oversees operations of nearly four million switches and signals every year, used by Amtrak intercity and Metra regional trains moving through Chicago’s busiest rail station, along with Amtrak lines in Michigan, Indiana, and Louisiana, CMAP said.

CMAP is the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) for seven northeastern Illinois counties, including Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will counties.

Szabo became CMAP senior fellow last January, after serving as Federal Railroad Adminstrator for six years under the Obama administration. As head of the Federal Railroad Administration, Szabo also served on the Amtrak Board of Directors.

A resolution adopted by the Amtrak Board cites Szabo’s longtime support for the national intercity passenger rail system. Amtrak CEO Joseph Boardman praised the “essential counsel, direction, and perspective” that Szabo provided to the Amtrak board and staff.

“In recognition of Joe’s contributions — past and those yet to come — to Amtrak, to the railroad industry, and to the Chicago metro area, we could think of no more appropriate place to honor him than our Chicago Control Center,” said Boardman, who attended the dedication ceremony with Amtrak Board Member Tom Carper and Szabo’s family, friends, and colleagues.

Said Szabo,
”I am deeply touched by the Amtrak Board’s recognition. Chicago is my home and where I began my railroad career. Having worked with and represented the railroad workforce in Illinois, it is very special to be associated with the facility that dispatches train operations in and out of Union Station – it’s where the work gets done.”

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