Andy Byford — 'Train Daddy' — Returns to the U.S. to Save Amtrak

Andy Byford leading a walkthrough of a Crossrail station in London
Andy Byford leading a walkthrough of a Crossrail station in London

Amtrak has appointed a new executive vice president to lead the development of high-speed rail services. Streetsblog reports the federal government-owned passenger railroad has chosen Andy Byford for the position. Byford previously led the New York City Transit Authority, the city’s subway and bus operator, between January 2018 and February 2020.

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Andy Byford was popular with practically every New Yorker — except Andrew Cuomo — during his time in charge of the city’s public transit. The 57-year-old British administrator, revered as “Train Daddy” by transit fans, aggressively pushed to modernize NYC’s century-old subway system, making stations wheelchair-accessible, upgrading World-War-II-era signaling systems, and introducing contactless fare-payment systems during his two-year stint.


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Governor Andrew Cuomo eventually came into conflict with Byford, stripping the transit chief of most of his responsibilities. Byford resigned from his NYCTA position in February 2020, and has spend the last two years leading London’s public transport agency. Cuomo, meanwhile, resigned himself in August 2021 amid a sexual harassment scandal.

Those familiar with Byford’s reputation are ecstatic about the appointment, to say the least. Lisa Daglian, executive director of the MTA’s in-house Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee, told Streetsblog:

Having Andy Byford in that role means the whole nation can benefit from having a ‘Train Daddy’ and his wealth of experience. He’s lived and worked in places where high speed rail actually exists and is in a great position to help bring it here. He’s got excellent relationships within the MTA that will help smooth the way as conversations about a multitude of projects continue. And he understands the complexity of the system and its components — and mostly, how to put riders first.

Amtrak currently operates a single high-speed service on the Northeast Corridor, the Acela, which runs between Washington, D.C. and Boston via New York. With private services in development in South Florida and Southern California, interest in expanding Amtrak’s high-speed service is growing. Maybe Train Daddy can help make it happen.

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