George D. Warrington, 55, a former head of New Jersey Transit and Amtrak who enjoyed a national reputation as an innovator and leader in public transportation systems, died Monday of pancreatic cancer at his home in Mendham, N.J.
During his 30-year career, Mr. Warrington helped deliver improvements in the commuter and passenger rail infrastructure, especially in New Jersey and the Northeast Corridor, that dramatically improved service and helped increase ridership.
At Amtrak, where he served as corporate president between 1998 and 2002, he launched the nation's first high-speed rail line, the Acela Express.
"That started out as an engineering project," said Richard Sarles, his longtime friend, colleague and successor at NJ Transit. "He turned it into a business project." Sarles said Warrington believed that with the right amenities, Acela could compete with airlines, and that turned out to be true. "He was a high-energy guy," Sarles said, "a real leader."
Mr. Warrington's vision that passenger rail lines could be the catalyst for economic development has been realized at 30th Street Station with the new parking garage and Cira Centre, Sarles said. Similar projects are under way at Amtrak stations in Chicago and Baltimore, he said.
Mr. Warrington served as chief executive officer of the Delaware River Port Authority from June 1992 to December 1993, and managed the conversion to one-way toll collection on the bridges.
As a special assistant in the 1970s to New Jersey Transportation Commissioner Louis Gambaccini, Mr. Warrington was present at the creation of NJ Transit.
From 1980 to 1990, he was vice president and general manager of NJ Transit's rail operations, and, in 2002, Gov. Jim McGreevey named him the system's executive director, luring him from his post as president of Amtrak. He resigned from the New Jersey agency in March.
While serving as its executive director, Mr. Warrington dramatically increased commuter rail capacity, adding trains, seats and parking. He opened the Midtown Direct Montclair service, Newark Light Rail and the River Line from Camden to Trenton, and extended the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail System.
As chief executive officer of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor from 1994 to 1998, Mr. Warrington oversaw the electrification of parts of the railroad in Connecticut and Massachusetts, which cut down travel times and improved reliability.
He was cofounder of a strategic consulting firm, Warrington, Fox, Shuffler.
A native of Bayonne, N.J., Mr. Warrington received his undergraduate and master's degrees from Syracuse University. In 2000, he was awarded the Salzberg Medallion by the Syracuse University business school for his leadership in transportation.