Amtrak’s new CEO

Hillary Wicai Sep 12, 2006
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Amtrak’s new CEO

Hillary Wicai Sep 12, 2006
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SCOTT JAGOW: The country’s passenger railroad makes a switch today: Amtrak has a new president. More now from Hillary Wicai.


HILLARY WICAI: Alexander Kummant doesn’t have a long history riding the rails.

The 46 year old was a freight rail executive with Union Pacific from just 1999-2003. But Amtrak’s board is looking for someone to cut down the red ink.

The national passenger rail system is $3.5 billion in debt.

Ronald Utt with the Heritage Foundation says Amtrak’s new leader will have to make some tough choices.

RONALD UTT: “One of them is to take a look at the route structure and say does it make any sense? I mean you have some underutilized long distance trains where the subsidy is about $450 per passenger.”

But talk of changing long distance routes is controversial. Cutting routes can mean cutting jobs and making customers angry.

Ross Capon is with the National Association of Railroad passengers.

ROSS CAPON: “That’s going to be a very sticky wicket because the system is already so sparse.”

Kummant replaces David Gunn who was fired last November.

In Washington, I’m Hillary Wicai for Marketplace.

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