High-Speed Rail Authority picks new CEO

Credit: California High-Speed Rail Authority

The agency charged with building the state’s bullet train plucked their new chief from Alstom, the French manufacturer of high-speed trains. Press release:

California High-Speed Rail Authority Names New CEO:
Roelof van Ark

At today’s Board of Directors meeting in Sacramento, the California High-Speed Rail Authority named Roelof van Ark, a senior executive with more than 30 years experience as an engineer and manager for some of the world’s leading transportation companies, as the agency’s chief executive officer.

Van Ark, 58, of New York, is President of Alstom Transportation Inc., the North American subsidiary of France’s Alstom SA, makers of the fastest trains in the world and builders of Europe’s TGV. The company has 65,000 employees and annual revenues of $20 billion.

“Building the first high-speed rail system in the nation is no ordinary job. It is the biggest public works project in the country and the largest environmental review in history,” said Authority Chair Curt Pringle. “Roelof van Ark is the world-class manager and engineer we need to take the reins of this project and turn the promise of high-speed rail into a reality for the people of California.”
Van Ark, named to the job after an extensive search and candidate screening process, starts June 1 and will receive an annual salary of $375,000, substantially less than van Ark’s current compensation in the private sector. He will be just the second top manager since the Authority was formed in 1996, and he succeeds Mehdi Morshed, who retired after serving as executive director from 1998-2010.

“California is leading the nation in high-speed rail,” van Ark said. “I have seen how high-speed rail projects transform the places where they re-built creating incredible new opportunities by connecting the world s great cities. As someone who has devoted his career to this industry, there’s no doubt in my mind that California is the place to be, and I’m honored to be given the opportunity to work with all partners to move California’s high-speed train project forward.”

Van Ark has been President at Alstom Transportation Inc. for the past five years, and he previously served as President of Aviation Security for Invision Technologies Inc.

Prior to that he spent more than 20 years as an executive, managing director, general manager, senior technical manager and senior project engineer for Siemens, the manufacturers of the popular ICE high speed trains. While with Siemens van Ark worked in Germany, South Africa and most recently in Sacramento, where he served as president and CEO of Siemens Transportation Systems from 1999-2002.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and an MBA from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Click here to view Van Ark’s bio and a fact sheet on the CEO search process.

Thank you,

The California High-Speed Rail Authority

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