By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Amtrak on Monday named a former Delta Air Lines <DAL.N> chief to lead the U.S. passenger rail carrier as it embarks on a major renovation of its busiest U.S. hub following years of disruptions and delays along the Northeast Corridor.
Richard Anderson, who spearheaded Delta’s growth into the world’s largest airline by market value when he retired as chief executive in May 2016, will become president and co-CEO on July 12, two days after Amtrak launches the rebuilding program at New York City’s Pennsylvania Station.
He and Wick Moorman, who became CEO in September and recruited Anderson, will share the top job until Dec. 31. Moorman will then become an advisor to the company, Amtrak said in a statement.
The repairs, estimated to cost $30 million to $40 million over several years, was expedited after recent derailments and other problems from decaying infrastructure left hundreds of thousands of commuters delayed throughout the greater New York City area. It is expected to cause major service disruptions this summer across the metropolitan region.
The project has caused a rift between Amtrak, the station owner, and the two states that use most of the hub’s track space, New York and New Jersey.
The Trump administration in May proposed ending $630 million in subsidies for Amtrak to operate long-distance train service, out of $1.4 billion in annual government support for passenger rail service.
For the year ending Sept. 30, Amtrak posted its highest ever total revenue of $3.2 billion and had a record 31.3 million passengers, with more than one-third of them in the Northeast Corridor. Its unaudited operating loss of $227 million was the smallest since 1973.
Airlines and Amtrak compete for passengers, especially on busy routes between Boston and Washington.
Anderson was among the most outspoken U.S. airline industry leaders. He assumed Delta’s top job in 2007 and led the company through a merger with Northwest Airlines in 2008.
During his tenure, Delta outpaced its peers in on-time performance, grew rapidly in top business markets such as New York and acquired stakes in airlines in the United Kingdom, China, Mexico and Brazil.
Amtrak Chairman Anthony Coscia said in an interview on Monday that Anderson had transformed Delta from a bankrupt airline, from 2005 to 2007, “to one that was considered the industry standard for customer service.”
He noted the challenge of serving record passenger rail traffic in an industry that has been underinvested for decades.
Moorman retired in 2015 as chairman, CEO and president of Norfolk Southern Corp <NSC.N> before taking the helm at Amtrak.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Richard Chang)