Avery Grimes

Biography:

George Avery Grimes received his B.S. in Civil Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in 1978, his M.S. at the University of Nebraska in 1994, and his Ph.D. at UIUC in 2004. His dissertation research led to new economic concepts linking rail investment and freight pricing strategies. Dr. Grimes began his transportation career with the Chicago Transit Authority and the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District in the mid-1970s. He subsequently gained extensive experience with over 35 years working in rail transportation including, operations, engineering, economics, finance, marketing, strategic planning and investment analysis. He has held senior level positions at Class I freight railroads (Missouri Pacific, Union Pacific, and Kansas City Southern), Omnitrax, a regional and shortline railroad holding company, and most recently as Deputy CEO at Metrolink. His primary responsibilities at Metrolink were work on overall corporate transformation, including organizational restructuring, agency strategy, and negotiations with freight railroads and the California High Speed Rail Authority on shared corridor issues.

Dr. Grimes has been an active member of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) for several years and was recently appointed Chairman of the TRB Committee on Freight Rail Transportation (AR040). He is also a long-time member of the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association's, Environmental Engineering (13) and Engineering Economics (16) Committees, and is a member of the ASCE Rail Transportation Committee. Dr. Grimes is a licensed professional engineer in the states of Missouri and Washington.

Abstract:

Metrolink is the commuter rail system serving the greater Los Angeles region. It is operated by the Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA) and offers passenger rail services linking communities to employment and activity centers. The SCRRA is a Joint Powers Authority consisting of five, county transportation-planning agencies in the region. It was formed in 1991 to develop a regional rail transportation service to reduce highway congestion and improve mobility in Southern California. Metrolink began operation in 1992 on three lines with 12 stations and just over 5,000 daily passengers. Now in its 19th year of operation, Metrolink has grown to seven lines, 55 stations and 40,000 passengers per day.

Accompanying this growth was a host of new challenges. In April 2010, the Metrolink Board of Directors brought in a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and executive management team to address an array of critical problems regarding service, efficiency, transparency and fiscal responsibility. In the ensuing year substantial changes were made including enhancing the safety culture, improving equipment utilization and capitalization, and instituting a fuel conservation program. During this time Metrolink also launched a new fleet of passenger cars and progressed its plan to have Positive Train Control operational in advance of the 2015 federal deadline. Avery Grimes was a key member of this new executive team, serving as their Deputy CEO for the past year. He will discuss the challenges Metrolink faced when he arrived, the actions taken to address the issues, and the status of the system today.

Metrolink: Commuter Railroad in Transition: Flier