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Mr. Robert VanderClute


  • Mr. VanderClute is president and founder of the transportation consulting firm, FirstRail International, LLC, where he works with state departments of transportation, rail operators (passenger and freight), and rail manufacturers and suppliers. He formerly served as a senior vice president of safety and operations at the Association of American Railroads (AAR) until 2015. His department's responsibilities included the oversight of the industry's homeland security plan, equipment interchange standards, car service rules, quality assurance programs, and safety initiatives in addition to environmental issues, hazardous materials, communication signals, and tank car safety standards and design. After graduating from the University of Tennessee, where he majored in transportation, Mr. VanderClute completed graduate school programs at both the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia and the Harvard Business School. He is a fellow with CILT and is active in several public and professional organizations. Prior to AAR, Mr. VanderClute served as vice president of operations and later chief operations officer at Amtrak. Reporting directly to Amtrak's president and chairman, Mr. VanderClute was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company, including customer service, transportation, procurement and material management, safety, environmental, engineering, and mechanical service centers as well as other key corporate responsibilities. During his career, the corporation implemented a high-speed rail program, embarked on a $6 billion infrastructure improvement program, replaced virtually its entire motive power and car fleet, and became the largest contract carrier of commuter services in North America.