- James E. Coston
- Scott Braverman
- Philip M. Martin
- F. K. Plous
- J. Bruce Richardson
- James M. Coston
James E. Coston
Chairman, Corridor Capital LLC
Mr. Coston co-founded Corridor Capital LLC in 2005 with a vision to provide the nation’s passenger train operators with the requisite capital to expand their fleets and fixed facilities.
In his proven leadership of Corridor Capital, Mr. Coston has succeeded in combining his belief in passenger trains, and his experience in operating them, with his professional ability to raise private-sector money for a fleet buildup in the nation’s publicly funded passenger-train industry. In May 2005, the firm concluded its first such transaction when it teamed with Sumitomo Corporation and the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi to provide $25 million in lease financing for 11 new bi-level gallery commuter cars to be built by Nippon-Sharyo Corporation for Virginia Railway Express.
More recently, Mr. Coston headed a team that acquired control of 50+ stainless-steel coaches, dining cars and lounge cars built in the 1950s and ’60s for long-distance trains operated by the Santa Fe Railway. The cars, known as the “Hi-Levels,” were retired by Amtrak in 2002, when it lacked a budget to overhaul them, and later were sold to a series of private collectors. Evidencing the clear vision of an entrepreneur, the working knowledge of passenger train operations, and the acquired legal skills in equipment leasing and finance law, Mr. Coston acted to provide the only alternative to the exploding demand for seating on the short-distance daytime corridor trains that have become the fastest-growing and most popular passenger-rail services in the nation. Mr. Coston’s company, Corridor Capital, acquired the Hi-Levels from the collectors and organized a team of engineers, financiers and passenger-railcar designers to overhaul, remanufacture and reconfigure these former overnight long-distance cars.
Mr. Coston successfully organized Corridor Capital in respect to his focused career development that pivoted on the three key elements of professional achievement essential to the rail business: passenger-train operations and marketing; state and national transportation policy; and twenty-six years of experience in equipment-lease-and-finance law, a fast-growing professional concentration in which he is a nationally recognized leader. In 2003, Mr. Coston became the first attorney to be elected president of a nationwide equipment-lease trade association, the National Association of Equipment Leasing.
The genesis of Mr. Coston’s professional development started when he was employed by Amtrak between 1973 through 1979 as a relief station agent and reservations/ticketing agent, serving at Chicago Union Station, Joliet, Illinois Union Station and the Kankakee, Illinois station. But even before he drew his first railroad paycheck, and while still a high-school student, he founded the Twentieth Century Railroad Club, which was launched along with Amtrak in 1971. Between 1980 and 1986, this organization planned and operated more than fifty special excursion trains throughout Midwest tourist and sports event destinations. Many trains were chartered from Amtrak, and staffed by dedicated club volunteers. Certain trains utilized privately owned equipment, which enabled the club to provide multi-levels of passenger services, including preparation and serving meals, and operating a full host beverage service.
Mr. Coston’s successful experience in delivering both wholesale and retail rail travel evolved in parallel with his deep concern for the role of passenger train in U.S. transportation policy. As far back as 1969, at the age of fourteen, Mr. Coston appeared as a witness before an Interstate Commerce Commission examiner in connection with the Penn Central Railroad’s petition to eliminate passenger-train service between Chicago and the East. Mr. Coston’s passenger-train advocacy, and in particular his insistence that government has an obligation to fund passenger-rail service just as it funds highways and civil aviation, never has waned. Since 1993, he has testified on passenger-rail policy before the congressional committees and has addressed many public-interest and business groups, while his guest columns and letters on rail policy have appeared in publications including the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, The New Republic and the Journal of Transportation Law, Logistics and Policy. He has appeared and been interviewed regarding passenger rail subjects on numerous television and radio shows, including Kudlow and Cramer on CNBC.
In culmination to his commitment to passenger rail transportation, in 2000, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Thomas Daschle appointed Mr. Coston to the Amtrak Reform Council, where he served until that body’s expiration in December 2002.
From 2005 through 2007, Mr. Coston served as advisor to Amtrak Chairman David M. Laney on policy initiatives.
Mr. Coston is a longtime board member of the Rail Users’ Network. He was also one of the original members of OnTrackNorthAmerica’s advisory board for railroad career professionals.
A graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois; B.A., College of Arts and Sciences, 1977.
A graduate of DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois; JD, College of Law, 1980.
Instructor, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan; Railway Management Programs, 2007-2008.
CEO, Corridor Capital LLC
Scott Braverman is an entrepreneur who developed a business career as CEO of equipment-operating and financing companies. He joined James Coston as co-founder of Corridor Capital LLC in February, 2005, with their goal to implement a vision to identify new strategies for advancing passenger rail services in the United States.
Mr. Braverman co-authored, with Mr. Coston and F.K. Plous, The West Coast Corridor Initiative as presented to the Amtrak Reform Board; Opening the San Joaquins to Competition, as presented to the Amtrak Reform Board, Caltrans Division of Rail and the Federal Railroad Administration; and A Comparative Analysis of Reform Initiatives Before Congress, as presented to the Caltrans Division of Rail.
Working with Mr. Coston and Mr. Plous, Mr. Braverman has formulated policy to define Amtrak’s statutory rights, while amplifying the intent of Congress to open up Amtrak’s functions and services to competition. Mr. Braverman has also worked with Mr. Coston to inform members of Congress and their staffs of the opportunities for creating legislative enhancements to passenger rail. The end result of this work effort has been to bring to the passenger rail industry its first rolling-stock leasing product driven by market forces, rather than the tax code.
Mr. Braverman is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, with a B.A. in Political Science, 1973.
Philip M. Martin
Vice President, Finance and Planning
Philip Martin is a finance and planning executive with 30+ years in the railway and airline industries as well as in management consulting to the transportation industry. Most recently, Philip served at the director level at United Airlines for nine years in various roles including Finance, Maintenance, Labor Relations, Operations Planning, and United Express.
Prior to United, Mr. Martin worked at Amtrak for five years finishing as Director, Planning and Business Development. Additional roles at Amtrak include Senior Business Manager for Chicago Union Station & Terminal, including Amtrak’s maintenance facility, and Manager, Strategic Planning for the Midwest. During his time at Amtrak he crafted the business plan and championed through to implementation the Milwaukee Airport Rail Station, the first air/rail intermodal facility in the Midwest.
Earlier in his career, Mr. Martin worked for eight years in management consulting at major firms, including Coopers & Lybrand (now PWC) and KPMG as well as Gellman Research Associates, a boutique firm. During his consulting career he helped lead some of the project management teams assisting in the merger integration of Conrail for client Norfolk Southern. Consulting assignments have taken him to Africa, Asia, and the Mideast. Mr. Martin began his railroad career in Operations Planning at Conrail where he spent the majority of his time in the field. There he became qualified on the management version of the Operating Rules book as well as the Safety Rules book. At Amtrak, Mr. Martin was qualified on the Safety Rules book and the Food Service Sanitation Rules book.
Mr. Martin is a graduate of the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business with an MBA in Finance and Business Policy, and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School with a BS in Economics and concentration in Transportation.
Director, Corporate Communication
Mr. Plous is a 1962 Communications graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During college he worked as brakeman, switchman, yard clerk and diesel fireman with the Chicago & North Western Railway and the Illinois Central Railroad. He then went on to do reporting for the Chicago bureau of United Press International and daily reporting and Sunday feature writing work for the Chicago Sun-Times.
Mr. Plous was associated with Mr. Coston in the management of the Twentieth Century Railroad Club from 1979 to 1986, where he planned and marketed the Club’s popular excursion trains. He has served Mr. Coston as a speechwriter, ghostwriter, researcher and writer of policy documents. He has ghostwritten the autobiographies of two retired railroad chairmen and CEOs. He has extensive contacts among, and credibility with, the media on transportation issues and serves as media-relations manager for all of Mr. Coston’s transportation activities and interests.
J. Bruce Richardson
Vice President, Passenger Services
J. Bruce Richardson has a strong background in passenger railroading and the travel and hospitality industry. He was a consultant to Amtrak’s Gulf Coast Business Group for five years, working with three of Amtrak’s long distance trains based in New Orleans.
In addition to working directly with the transcontinental Sunset Limited – North America’s only transcontinental train which traveled coast to coast from Los Angeles to Orlando – he also worked with the famed City of New Orleans and the Crescent. While operating the Sunset Limited and City of New Orleans Promotional Office for Amtrak, he provided services relating to travel agents, special marketing projects for radio and television, an audit of the Arrow reservations system, the creation of an internal marketing program aimed at the Amtrak national reservations centers, and onboard passenger services such as the creation of the 24-hour dining car project for the Sunset Limited. He directed the special events for the opening of new station facilities in Charlottesville, Virginia; Memphis, Tennessee; and San Antonio, Texas along with static equipment displays, and worked as part of an Amtrak team on the inaugural of the Gulf Coast Limited and the American Society of Travel Agents New Orleans Conference familiarization train from New Orleans to Slidell, Louisiana.
Mr. Richardson was President of United Rail Passenger Alliance, Inc., a nationally known policy institute working specifically on North American passenger rail issues. He founded and authored the weekly This Week at Amtrak Internet column relating to passenger rail issues which was read throughout official Washington and had subscribers around the world from Europe to mainland China.
In 2002, Mr. Richardson testified before the United States House of Representatives regarding the future of Amtrak and passenger rail travel in the United States. In 1994, Mr. Richardson led a meeting in the White House concerning the future of Amtrak as a private corporation. Prior to that in the 1989-1991 period, he led a team of consultants working in Canada in concert with the Canadian federal government to study the privatization, rebuilding, and future of VIA Rail Canada, that nation’s passenger rail network.
In the travel and hospitality industry, Mr. Richardson’s clients have included a number of travel agency chains and single office agencies, an inbound land package tour wholesaler in Central Florida, a 1,200 member travel agency consortium, a travel agency franchise system, as well as two private, post-secondary travel agent training schools. Other clients in the hospitality industry have included hotels and restaurants, the Central Florida Malibu Grand Prix theme park, and Ripley Entertainment’s Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum in St. Augustine, Florida. He also provided marketing guidance for the creation of an east coast start-up airline project.
Other current and past clients of Mr. Richardson for marketing, advertising, public relations and fundraising include political campaigns for the United States House of Representatives, Florida State Senate and Florida House of Representatives, and local elections including those for sheriff, school board, county commission, circuit court judge, and a successful referendum for a single-issue ballot for a county sales tax.
Mr. Richardson has written a book about the history of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum in St. Augustine, Florida, has revised and edited two textbooks for training travel agents, and has written a manual used to train operators on an international airline computerized reservation system. He has also written and produced an extensive operations manual for use by purchasers of a travel agency franchise system. He created a number of newsletters in the travel industry.
Mr. Richardson’s college work at Jacksonville University and the University of North Florida was in management and finance.
Specific projects for Amtrak included:
- Travel agent and tour wholesale marketing
- Developed, managed, and escorted travel agent onboard familiarization trips to New York, Daytona Beach, Orlando, and New Orleans.
- Development, writing and design of brochures including “How to Sell Amtrak, A Resource Guide for Professional Travel Agents,” and “Creating New Group Revenues for Travel Agents” among other materials.
- Station opening and inaugural trains
- Charlottesville, Virginia station opening
- San Antonio, Texas station opening
- Memphis, Tennessee station opening
- Gulf Coast Limited inaugural
- Onboard service recovery
- Created, developed, and trained Sunset Limited onboard employees for service recovery program, the Sunset Limited Coast to Coast Adventure, a program designed to deal with passenger concerns and passenger follow-up on chronically late trains. The program included management, employee, reservation system and passenger elements.
- Wrote and designed all collateral materials for use onboard the Sunset Limited and in stations including new dining car menus, route guide, timetables, and passenger directories.
- 24-hour dining car test; helped implement menus and financial plans, and program development for 24-hour dining car field tests on the Sunset Limited.
- Developed program and financial plans for long distance premium coach service.
- Special projects
- Riverside, California Call Center; created program for Gulf Coast Business Group trains recognition among Call Center employees including “thank you” banners, games, holiday cards, and other activities.
- Created in-house sales program for local station agents to use as training and guide for calling on local businesses and group travel prospects.
- Created basis for sales plan to generate new business from professional meeting planners.
- New business development
- Created and developed Sunset Limited and City of New Orleans Promotional Office and related marketing plan to assist Amtrak Intercity marketing with specific projects.
- Prospected and established talks/negotiations with cruise lines, AAA West Incentive Travel Department, and NASCAR for new or renewed relationships with Amtrak.
James M. Coston
Digital Marketing Manager
James M. Coston is the Digital Marketing Manager for Corridor Capital LLC. He specializes in public relations, social media, content strategy and media planning.
He has more than five years of relevant industry experience, working with agencies, vendors and in-house marketing teams. His client work includes Union Pacific Railroad, Madison County (Illinois) Transit, Monsanto Company, Bayer CropScience, and The Dow Chemical Company.
Mr. Coston was a 2010 graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He majored in Strategic Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations. During his college career he served several internships, including with FOX News as a broadcast news intern in the channel’s London, England news bureau. He also served an internship at KBIA Public Radio, the NPR affiliate in Columbia, Missouri, working as a general assignment reporter.
His father took him on his first train ride before he could crawl and he’s been fascinated with transportation ever since.