Mr. Joseph Boardman, President and CEO of Amtrak, will present the 2015 Shaw Lecture on October 15 at 3:30pm in Mann 216. His presentation will be: “Amtrak and the Future of Intercity Passenger Rail in America.”
As you probably know, today’s Amtrak is a very different system from the railroad of thirty years ago. Today, more than half of Amtrak’s trains reach or exceed a speed of 100mph, and the company earned sufficient revenue in 2014 to cover more than 90% of its operating costs. The company has set ten ridership records in the last twelve years, and ticket revenues have more than doubled. This renaissance has been accompanied by similar growth trends in commuter and freight rail services. Few transportation modes display as much promise as intercity passenger rail – but in spite of Amtrak’s demonstrated record of success, many challenges remain. Some are structural and some are matters of public policy, but infrastructure age, traffic congestion, and underinvestment continue to dog the American railroad industry, and must be overcome if rail is to realize its potential as an engine for the national economy.
Mr. Boardman will review the history of Amtrak’s operations during his tenure (2008 to the present), and its future potential. He will discuss the incremental development of high speed operations on the Northeast Corridor and elsewhere on the Amtrak system, and review the prospects for further development – both in terms of incremental improvement of existing routes and the development of dedicated routes for service at significantly higher speeds. His discussion will encompass key technological questions, such as electrification, signaling, train control, and environmental considerations. He will talk about prospects for growth and investment (particularly in the mid-Atlantic and the South), and discuss the need for a predictable, consistent Federal funding policy to provide the nation with a safe, reliable, and effective intercity passenger rail transportation system that can make a meaningful contribution to its growth and development.