- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 15, 2008

Amtrak Chief Executive Officer Alex Kummant resigned Friday after about two years in the top post.

An Amtrak statement commended Mr. Kummant for leading ridership and revenue growth on the railroad. At 28.7 million passengers, ridership reached a record in the past fiscal year, driven in part by gasoline prices over $4 per gallon.

“He also successfully oversaw the completion of labor agreements with all of the unions representing Amtraks employees,” said Donna McLean, Amtrak chairwoman.

Mr. Kummant, who declined to comment on the reasons for his resignation, took over the job from David Gunn, who was known for being a skilled leader but also for conflicts with the board of directors over Amtrak’s management and budget.

Sources close to the board said Mr. Kummant did not always agree with board members, but his conflicts were on a smaller and less-public scale.

Mr. Kummant, 48, is being replaced by William Crosbie, Amtraks chief operating officer, as acting chief executive.

Mr. Crosbie takes over after Congress and President Bush last month approved a $13.1 million passenger rail budget over the next five years. States would get about one-fourth of it for commuter rail service. The rest would give Amtrak an average annual subsidy of $1.93 billion, up from $1.3 billion now.

In addition, President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. have expressed a willingness to expand public transportation service.

“Current economic conditions highlight the need for us to continue finding ways to drive quality and customer service across the system,” said Hunter Biden, Amtrak board vice chairman and son of Mr. Biden. “We are moving forward with the development of an aggressive long-term plan for the company, based on the recent legislation passed by Congress.”

Mr. Kummant said he would help with the transition to new management. He came to Amtrak after serving as an executive for Omaha, Neb.-based railroad company Union Pacific Corp.

Ross B. Capon, president of the advocacy group National Association of Railroad Passengers, said, “Huge and growing demands on the federal budget from all directions make it more important than ever that the new CEO be able to guide the company aggressively and successfully.”

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