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Cornellian Appointed CEO of Amtrak

In what may prove to be a boon for the Upstate New York economy, an Upstate native and Cornell alumnus has been appointed as CEO of Amtrak -- Joseph Boardman '74 :

"I am humbled that the board selected me to lead the company, on an interim basis, at this very exciting time. Over the past decade in one capacity or another I have been an active participant in the affairs of Amtrak. I have come to know the company, the culture, a number of employees, and I am keenly aware of the challenges facing us right now," said Boardman.

"In my view, a national intercity, interconnected passenger rail service is critically important for the mobility and energy independence of the United States."

What's most exciting is that this appointment comes at a time when the new Obama administration is proposing to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to build new infrastructure as part of an economic stimulus package. Many commentators have speculated that a high speed rail link between the upstate cities of Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Albany combined with connections to New York City, Montreal, Boston, and Toronto, would do wonders for the Upstate economy. A new Erie Canal, if you will.

Meanwhile, we can only dream of what a re-instituted rail connection to Ithaca would do. 'Centrally isolated' Ithaca would appear to be the perfect candidate for a rail node connecting New York City to points west, including Buffalo and Toronto. The famed Lehigh Valley Railroad used to run directly from NYC to Buffalo, with a stop in Ithaca.

So perhaps Boardman may want to keep Upstate and his alma mater in mind as he tackles the challenges facing Amtrak.

P.S. Don't forget about the need for a trolley.

Late Update: Cornell alumnus and transportation geek MM writes in with some thoughts on the news:

I think he has the experience and the know how to lead Amtrak at this time, and I hope he gets the job permanently. (Right now he only has a one-year appointment while they search for a new CEO; the past CEO resigned a couple of weeks ago after he had differences with the Amtrak board.) I think, if anything, this is a good thing for the State of New York, particularly Upstate. Better rail could be a real boon to upstate's economy - if done right, of course.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on December 03, 2008 (#)

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