On May 15, 2002 David L. Gunn became CEO of Amtrak, the steadily pummeled passenger railroad company which has come to the brink of insolvency. It has reached a critical point in its 31-year struggle at keeping passenger trains viable as alternate mode of travel in the United States of America.
On May 21, David L. Gunn wrote to his employees, after a hasty tour of several Amtrak terminals and routes...
Dear Amtrak Employees:
During my first few days on the property I've had the opportunity to meet many employees. I've been on trains, in terminals, crew quarters and of course our headquarters. It's clear to me that most of you know that Amtrak faces enormous challenges. You understand the importance of your role in making this railroad run well and serving our customers. You also know that without the proper tools and support your jobs become very difficult.
I believe you have the right to expect straight talk from me. We no longer have the time or the luxury to engage in pleasant but non-specific dialogue. I am committed to a national railroad passenger system, which includes the corridor, commuter and intercity services. I will not participate in the dismemberment of our company. I will fight to keep us whole. I am committed to restoring the existing system to a state of good repair as a first priority. I am committed to an efficient, high-quality service. I will create a lean, competent management, responsive to our funders, you and our passengers. I will ask that all of us review processes, work methods and procedures to increase efficiency. We will not be self-sufficient, but we must increase our cost recovery.
Among the many good wishes that I received from you, one stands out in my mind: a Boston crewman said, "I will pray for you;" not because my personal success is important - it is Amtrak's future that is at stake. I ask for your support. I will make mistakes. The problems we face are complex. However, my job is to serve you and our passengers. I am committed to that goal. I believe I know how to manage a railroad. I know you know how to run a railroad and to provide good service. Together, we can succeed.
David L. Gunn
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