Amtrak Appoints New Northeast Corridor Head

PHILADELPHIA -- Amtrak's Northeast Corridor is getting a new chief executive with extensive political and government experience -- just in time for what could be a lively battle with Congress this year over the rail passenger corporation's future, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

James Weinstein, 55, is scheduled to start Feb. 4 as senior vice president of the corridor, which is based at Philadelphia's 30th Street Station. He will oversee a workforce of 3,500 in Philadelphia and another 7,500 Amtrak employees spread from Portland, Maine, to Newport News, Va. He will be in charge of all train operations, marketing and Amtrak real estate in the corridor.

Weinstein will replace Stan Bagley, who was promoted to executive vice president of Amtrak operations.

Weinstein spent the last four years as commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Transportation and chairman of the New Jersey Transit board. He was on the board of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey from 1999 to 2001 and on the Delaware River Port Authority board from 1994 to 1996. Former Gov. Christine Whitman named him to those posts.

A graduate of Seton Hall University, Weinstein was a journalist with the old Philadelphia Bulletin and other newspapers in the mid-1970s, and worked on political campaigns in the late 1970s. He also was New Jersey DOT communications director, and ran his own marketing and communications firm.

Weinstein will take over the same week that the Amtrak Reform Council is to recommend to its creator, Congress, that Amtrak's Northeast Corridor track and real estate operations and its train operations be split into two separate companies. Amtrak would become a smaller agency that would manage the companies.

Weinstein said that he had not determined whether anything needs to change at Amtrak, but that he knows his priorities will be to continue expanding the Acela high-speed service and to find ways to make that part of Amtrak's business grow.

Weinstein said he believes deeply that Amtrak has an important role in giving not only the Northeast but the whole country a transportation system that is balanced between aviation, highways and railroads.

"Sept. 11 was the most dramatic demonstration we have of the need for a balanced transportation system," he said.