WASHINGTON, D.C. — Amtrak hired Al Engel to head up a new high-speed rail department that will lead initiatives to grow Amtrak’s role in high-speed rail. Engel is a recognized authority on high-speed rail and comes to Amtrak from engineering and planning giant AECOM.

"Engel has more than 40 years of experience in the rail transportation business and over that time has been active in the study, advocacy and development of high-speed rail projects" said Amtrak. Engel was involved in the significant Amtrak upgrade with the launch of the highly successful Acela Express service 10 years ago.

Engel currently serves as vice president and high-speed rail director with AECOM, and is on the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) board of directors. Previously, he served as chairman of the original High Speed Ground Transportation Association.

"This is very exciting news!" said US High Speed Rail (USHSR) Association President Andy Kunz. "We applaud the decision by Amtrak to bring on such an authority to oversee high-speed rail development in America. This signals a major advancement in high-speed rail for the nation."

Engel will be a keynote speaker at the USHSR High Speed Rail conference taking place in New York City, Nov. 14-16, and will discuss his new role and Amtrak’s plans for upgrading the Northeast Corridor to achieve much higher speeds, comparable to European and Asian high speed systems.

"Al has considerable expertise, is a dedicated proponent for public transportation, and shares our conviction that Amtrak plays a vital, leading and necessary role in expanding and operating high-speed rail service across the country," Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman said.

"Amtrak is an integral part of America’s high-speed rail future as highways and aviation networks reach capacity in our urban areas," stated Engel. "I am very enthused to have this opportunity to work for Amtrak and with national and regional leaders to help implement a new balanced transportation vision for the U.S."