- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 8, 2002

Amtrak will begin a major reorganization of its management as it continues to search for ways to raise the $200 million that officials say is needed to avoid a nationwide shutdown of the passenger-rail system as early as next month.
Amtrak officials said David Gunn, the railroad's new president, plans to tell employees in a letter on Monday that restructuring management and centralizing leadership out of the Washington headquarters will make the organization more effective as the railroad struggles with its finances.
Mr. Gunn submitted the restructuring plan to Amtrak's board of directors on Thursday, and while the board's decision was not immediately announced, Mr. Gunn was apparently given the go-ahead.
"It can be said there were no surprises in terms of what the board has decided," said Bill Schulz, Amtrak spokesman. He is withholding more detail about the meeting until Mr. Gunn makes his letter public on Monday.
In addition to reorganizing its management, Amtrak is looking for a $200 million bank loan to pay its routine operating expenses. Otherwise, Mr. Gunn has said, the railroad might need to shut down its routes as soon as July.
"We didn't secure the loan today," Mr. Schulz said yesterday. The railroad has no indication Congress will provide the additional funds, he said.
Mr. Gunn's letter is expected to say that the 84 management staff members with the title of vice president will be trimmed to 20. In addition, three regional business units that operate nearly independently will be incorporated into the management structure of the Washington headquarters as different departments.
The business units are called Intercity, Northeast Corridor and Amtrak West. They operate out of Chicago, Philadelphia and Oakland, Calif. Although the regional offices will remain open, they will handle local operations rather than make policy decisions.
"Gunn proposed to the Amtrak board of directors a reorganization, among other things, that included a change of titles for the majority of the 84 members of the management staff who have the titles of vice president and the phase-out of the business units," Mr. Schulz said. "They would be replaced with a more traditional railroad structure."
The vice presidents who will lose their job titles will not be laid off. The move is intended to better coordinate the railroad's efforts, rather than to reduce staff or to produce immediate financial savings, Amtrak officials said.
In addition, Mr. Gunn has proposed a policy of openness about the railroad's finances that will include publishing detailed monthly updates.
Mr. Gunn, who succeeded George Warrington as Amtrak president on May 15, previously headed transit systems in Washington, New York and Toronto.


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