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— by Pat Foran, Editor
On paper, Amtrak's very public evolution took another turn last fall with the unveiling of a strategic plan that, in part, calls for dividing the national passenger railroad into six business lines. Once the plan is implemented, Amtrak strategists believe they'll be able to monitor expenses and seize revenue opportunities more effectively, develop stronger relationships with the railroad's state partners, and, ultimately, be in a better position to make Amtrak a better railroad, as Angela Cotey reports this month. As President and CEO Joe Boardman told her: "We want to run this company more as a business and less as a government entity."
Mr. Boardman will provide an update on Amtrak's progress on the becoming-a-better-railroad curve at our eighth annual RailTrends® summit, which will be held Nov. 1-2 at the W New York Hotel in Manhattan.
Other RailTrends speakers include Union Pacific Railroad Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer Lynden Tennison; CN Executive VP and Chief Marketing Officer Jean-Jacques Ruest; CSX Transportation VP of Intermodal Bill Clement; Canadian Pacific VP of Energy and Merchandise Tracy Robinson; Kansas City Southern VP of Sales and Marketing Patrick Ottensmeyer; Florida East Coast Railway L.L.C. President and CEO James Hertwig; Alaska Railroad Corp. President and CEO Chris Aadnesen; Genesee & Wyoming Inc. President and CEO Jack Hellmann; Watco Cos. L.L.C. Chairman and CEO Rick Webb; and Patriot Rail Corp. President and CEO John Fenton. Meanwhile, Surface Transportation Board Chair Daniel Elliott, Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo and National Transportation Safety Board Chair Deborah Hersman will offer perspective from their respective D.C. spheres. And an array of rail observers, including RailTrends program consultant Tony Hatch, will share their unique insights.
It's an eclectic program that befits the interconnectedness that is the North American rail industry. For the complete program or to register, visit RailTrends.com.
I'm happy to share a bit of inhouse news: The Progressive Railroading design team received a 2012 American Inhouse Design Award from Graphic Design USA, a publication that covers the graphic design industry.
The award recognizes the team's work on the cover design of our December 2011 issue ("Rail Outlook 2012").
Out of more than 4,000 entries, about 600 — "a highly selective 15 percent," as Graphic Design USA put it — received Certificates of Excellence. The award competition is open to inhouse designers and design teams, media companies, nonprofit organizations, and educational and government institutions.
Congrats to our design team — Emily Hawkins, Nicole Holden, Mark Uy and Creative Director Jeff Giencke — for receiving the honor. Of course, they do honor-worthy stuff each and every month, so we're very fortunate they hang their hats here. Thanks, Emily, Nicole, Mark and Jeff.
The Transportation Research Board (TRB) currently is accepting IDEA proposals for funding projects that support innovative approaches to improving railroad safety or performance. IDEA stands for "Innovations Deserving Exploratory Analysis." Managed by TRB, the Safety IDEA program is funded by the Federal Railroad Administration.
Safety IDEA proposals can be considered for the development or testing of "promising but unproven innovations to advance railroad practice," according to a prepared statement. Proposals can focus on applications for any type of railroad — high-speed, intercity passenger or freight. Proposals are due Sept. 7.
Instructions for preparing and submitting IDEA proposals are available on the IDEA website: www.TRB.org/IDEA — click on the IDEA "Program Announcement" link, which provides a pdf document and, from there, turn to page 8 on the pdf.
Selected proposals can receive up to $100,000 in IDEA funds. Questions about preparing an IDEA proposal? Email or call TRB's Harvey Berlin: email@example.com or 202-334-2441.