Posts Tagged ‘railroad executives’

New NS CEO to Visit Ashtabula

May 3, 2022

New NS CEO Alan Shaw plans to spend today visiting with maintenance of way workers in Astabula.

Shaw, who assumed the CEO role on May 1, is spending time visiting various NS facilities in its first few days on the job.

He replaces James Squires, who has retired. Shaw’s ascension to CEO was planned. He was named NS president last December.

Other locations that Shaw has visited or plans to visit include Debutts Yard in Chattanooga, the yard in Elkhart, Indiana; and an operations center in Roanoke, Virginia.

Shaw also has written to NS employees to lay out his goals as he talks over the railroad.

He called service restoration and developing a customer-centric company that is operations driven among the top priorities.

“My first priority, and the top priority of every member of the Norfolk Southern team, is to restore service to the quality our customers expect and deserve,” Shaw wrote.

“We’ll compete and win in the $800 billion truck and logistics market by being customer-centric and operations-driven.”

The letter cited Amazon and UPS as examples of the type of service-oriented company that NS must seek to become.

Shaw also went on to call for controlling costs and growing revenue.

New CN CEO Outlines Priorities

April 29, 2022

Canadian National CEO Tracy Robinson is now two months into her tenure as head of the Montreal-based railroad and has spent much of that time getting to know the system, including its workers and shippers.

During an earnings conference call with investors this week she laid out her priorities for CN. It was her first public comment since taking over as CEO on Feb. 28.

The first priority Robinson mentioned was focusing on improving velocity. At the same time CN needs to make more efficient use locomotives, cars and crews.

Robinson also spoke of better fitting its network to its strengths, tightening coordination between operations and marketing to ensure CN is able to deliver on its commitments to customers, and investing for growth and efficiency.

“We all know what this network and what this team is capable of doing,” Robinson said. “It’s not a matter of is it operating ratio or is it growth. I think it’s both.”

During the earning call Robinson announced that Doug MacDonald, currently CN’s senior vice president of special projects, was promoted to chief marketing officer.

Robinson replaced the retiring J.J. Ruest at CN. She worked for 27 years at Canadian Pacific and most recently was an executive for pipeline company TC Energy.

NS Names New Transportation VP

April 6, 2022

Norfolk Southern has named Floyd Hudson as vice president, transportation.

Hudson joined NS in 2004 as a management trainee and has held various positions in operations. Most recently he was general manager of the Southern Region and spent a year in a rotating assignment as chief of staff to Chairman and CEO James Squires.

NS said in a news release that Hudson will work with Vice President Network Planning and Operations Paul Duncan, executive Vice President Engineering Ed Boyle, and executive Vice President Advanced Train Control Tom Schnautz.

Hudson replaced Hunt Cary, who is leaving the company.

CSX Names New Vice President

April 2, 2022

CSX has named Steve Fortune as executive vice president and chief digital and technology officer.

He was hired aft6er spending 30 years at BP, where he served as chief information officer of the global BP Group.

At CSX, Fortune will lead all digital and technology operations and planning.

Fortune began at BP as a chemical and process engineer, before moving into operations management and information technology.

INRD Promotes Haire to Assistant VP in IT

March 8, 2022

Matt Haire has been promoted by the Indiana Rail Road to the position of assistant vice president of information technology.

He joined INRD’s IT department in 2004 as a technology specialist working on web development and internal web applications.

After advancing to IT manager and then to IT director, Haire focused on implementing technologies and solutions that would increase efficiencies, reduce costs and improve service and reliability to support internal and external customers, INRD officials said in a news release.

NS Hires New Network Planning VP

February 18, 2022

Norfolk Southern announced this week that Paul Duncan will become vice president of network planning and operations next month.

Duncan will succeed John Friedmann, who is retiring March 1 after 27 years with NS.

In a news release, NS said Duncan currently serves as vice president of service design and performance at BNSF where he helps to formulate service plans for bulk, intermodal and merchandise operations.

He has been with BNSF for 19 years in its operations and transportation departments.

NS said its network planning and operations function is a newly combined organization that consists of network planning and optimization and the network operations center.

It will implement operating plans through locomotive distribution, crew management and dispatching.

Duncan will report to Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Cindy Sanborn.

NS Names 3 Executives to New Positions

February 12, 2022

Norfolk Southern this week promoted three executives to new positions.

Michael McClellan was named senior vice president and chief strategy officer effective Feb. 16. He began his railroading career at Conrail and joined NS in 1998.

Nabanita Nag was appointed as senior vice president and chief legal officer while Clay Moore was named vice president and controller.

Nag will succeed Lorri Kleine, who will retire March 1. She has been at NS since August 2020.

Moore will succeed Clyde Allison, who also retires March 1. He joined NS in 2011.

Miles Named NS Non-Executive Board Chair

January 27, 2022

Amy Miles has been appointed the non-executive chairman of its board of directors effective May 1.

New NS President Alan Shaw will join the board at the same time following the retirement of Chairman and CEO James Squires, who will remain a director following his retirement.

The board will expand from 13 to 14 members and Shaw and Squires will stand for re-election during the annual meeting on May 12.

Miles has been a member of the NS board since 2014. NS said in a statement that Miles’ experience as a senior executive, financial expertise and service on several companies’ boards make her a “natural fit” to head the NS board.

Miles served as CEO of Regal Entertainment Group from June 2009 to March 2018. She was named chair in March 2015.

NS also said Marcela Donadio, a board director since 2016, will become chair of the  audit committee on May 1. She is a former partner at Ernst & Young and led that firm’s Americas oil and gas sector.

CN Names Robinson as Next CEO

January 26, 2022

Tracy Robinson has been named the new president and chief executive officer of Canadian National.

She will assume her new posts on Feb. 28 upon the retirement of CEO Jean-Jacques Ruest.

Robinson is currently with TC Energy where she holds the position of executive vice president and serves as president of TC divisions Canadian Natural Gas Pipelines, and Coastal GasLink.

She has been with TC Energy since 2014. Previously Robinson worked for 27 years in executive positions in operations, commercial and finance at Canadian Pacific.

Ruest, who has been at CN for 25 years, announced his retirement last year pending the appointment of his replacement.

“She knows the railroad,” Ruest said during a conference call with investors on Tuesday. “She knows the network. She knows the competition. She’s passionate about railroading. In my view, she is a railroader.”

Ruest said Robinson’s experience in the energy industry will help CN tap into the ongoing energy boom in Western Canada, including the development of hydrogen and growth in the petrochemical sector.

Robinson earned a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of Saskatchewan.

The Globe and Mail of Toronto reported that Robinson has pledged to learn to speak French.

The newspaper said this was a bid to avoid the type of controversy that ensnared Air Canada CEO Michael Rousseau after he gave a speech last year in Montreal in English and was unable to speak with reporters in French.

Robinson said she wants to be able to communicate better with CN’s francophone employees.

In a related development, CN and one of its large shareholders, TCI Fund Management, have settled their differences and the hedge fund will drop its proxy contest.

TCI had sought to name is own slate of company directors and top executives after becoming disenchanted with CN’s financial and stock performance. TCI also had been critical of CN’s failed effort to acquire Kansas City Southern last year.

CN and TCI have agreed to collaborate on the naming of two independent directors to the CN board to be appointed by the time of CN’s annual meeting this year.

In the meantime, CN said it has named former politician Jean Charest as an independent director. Current CN board member Shauneen Bruder was named vice-chair of the board.

Rail Passenger Funding, Running Amtrak on Time, New NS President Didn’t Impress Some Workers

January 17, 2022

Bit and pieces of insights into the workings of railroad world . . .

I recently received in my email inbox a message quoting Evan Stair of the Friends of the Southwest Chief group in which he suggested that the promise of new and expanded service contained in the Amtrak Connects US plan is largely a mirage.

Stair, whose group has been promoting additional Amtrak service along Colorado’s Front Range and extending the Heartland Flyer north of Oklahoma City to connect with the Chief in Kansas, was commenting on a Bloomberg News story in which Amtrak President Stephen Gardner said the plan to add 39 new routes will require state financial support.

Amtrak has estimated the plan will cost $75 billion to implement.

In his interview, Gardner characterized the federal government as the capital partner but the ongoing operating expenses are the responsibility of the states and Amtrak.

And Amtrak has made clear that it’s responsibility to pay operating expenses will only last at best for five years. After that states will be on the hook to pay operating expenses as is the case now with state-supported corridors on the West Coast, in the Midwest and along the East Coast.

“I frankly believe the Amtrak Connects US program will result in few, if any new routes,” Stair wrote. “States are unlikely to commit to long-term operational dollars without some federal operational matches.”

Stair is probably right about that but could have gone even farther. It may not be realistic to think that states that are not now and/or have never paid Amtrak for corridor service will do so in the future even with a short-term Amtrak funding match for operational expenses.

Yes, I’m talking about you, Ohio.

Speaking of Amtrak, Canadian Pacific CEO Keith Creel told a Midwest shippers conference in Chicago last week that he was “proud” of having reached an agreement with the passenger carrier to allow for the prospect of additional passenger service on routes operated by CP and it merger partner Kansas City Southern.

As reported by Trains magazine, Creel also talked about how CP has become one of Amtrak’s best host railroads in dispatching its trains on time. It wasn’t always that way.

“Five years ago, six years ago, we didn’t lead the industry in Amtrak service,” Creel said.

He went on to say that his 30 years as an operating officer taught him that it’s not easy for a freight railroad to coexist with passenger service.

“I understand the conflicts sometimes and the tradeoffs sometimes when you mix high speed passenger rail with what is, in comparative terms, low-speed freight rail,” Creel said. “I understand the track geometry challenges, I understand the speed challenges. But I also understand that if you prioritize right, and there’s tradeoffs, and balance in a partnership, you can succeed. And that’s the approach we’ve taken at CP.”

Creel’s comments suggest that having the right attitude is key to running passenger trains on time and if CP can do it so could the other Class 1 Amtrak host railroads.

Yet CP doesn’t host as many Amtrak trains as its Class 1 brethren and doesn’t host any long-distance trains over thousands of miles.

Perhaps the best that can be expected is that the host railroads could do better than they do, but dispatching is a balancing act and there will be times when a host railroad puts its own interests ahead of avoiding delaying Amtrak for what the host sees as a relatively short period of time.

Speaking at the same shipper’s conference, new Norfolk Southern President Alan Shaw told a story of how on his first day in his new post he decided to go out into the field and meet and greet NS operating employees in Toledo, which is the largest NS crew change point on the system.

 “I wanted to thank [the employees] for their dedication to Norfolk Southern and our customers, and I wanted to get their input into how we fix service and how we continue to improve our productivity,” Shaw said.

As reported by Trains magazine on its website, Shaw said he approached some workers sitting outside the crew room.

He was wearing khakis, boots and a collared shirt and the workers thought he was an operations supervisor.

 “So I walk up and introduce myself. They told me their names, and one of the guys said, ‘Well, what do you do?’ I said, ‘Well, I’m the president’. And he looks at me, and I’m like, ‘Not Joe Biden president, but president of Norfolk Southern.’ And the other dude pulls out his phone, and he’s like, ‘Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, I see the announcement. Congratulations!

“So that made me feel good. And then the one guy looks at me and says, ‘What craft did you come from?  . . . Were you mechanical, or engineering, or a conductor, or an engineer?’

“And I was like, ‘No, I started in finance.’ He was really not impressed with that. He goes, ‘Man, at some point, we’re going to have a craft employee running the railroad.’

“It is somewhat humbling when you go out there and talk to them, because they’ve got their own expectations.”

Shaw is right about that, but expectations are not reality. It’s possible that a future railroad president might have worked as a craft employee at an early point in his or her railroad career, but it is not realistic to think that C suite executives will be pulled from the ranks of operating or maintenance employees.

If you want to be a railroad president you need to have spent extensive time in such areas as finance, law or marketing and moved up the ranks in those departments.

Operating employees are not the only railroad stakeholders who have expectations and the expectations of some stakeholders carry more weight than those of others.

Shaw told another story about his first conversation with members of the railroad’s board of directors.

 “Their primary message to me was, ‘Don’t mess up,’” Shaw said. “Now, it was a little more forceful than that. I’ll let you use your imagination what the real verb was that they used.”

I think we can easily figure that one out.