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Rail Roundup: CN, NS make leadership changes

Industry veteran Ed Harris to replace Rob Reilly as COO at CN

A CN train heads to its next destination. (Photo: Shutterstock/Eric Buermeyer)

CN appoints new COO

CN has appointed Ed Harris as its COO, replacing Rob Reilly. The change is effective immediately.

Harris has served in the rail industry for 40 years, including more than three decades at Illinois Central Railroad and CN (NYSE: CNI), CN said in a Monday news release. That tenure included his serving as CN executive vice president of operations until 2007. 

Harris’ other executive appointments include executive vice president of operations at CSX (NASDAQ: CSX) from 2018-20 and chief operations officer at Canadian Pacific (NYSE: CP) from 2010-12. Before his latest appointment at CN, Harris worked with CN’s operational team as a consultant since April 2022. 

“We are very pleased to be able to leverage Ed’s experience and capabilities as we continue to improve the delivery of safe and reliable freight transportation services to our customers,” CN President and CEO Tracy Robinson said. “CN has made strides in improving our operational performance this year, and our team is ready and committed to take that performance to the next level. Ed will provide leadership and unparalleled experience as we advance into the next phase of our scheduled operating plan. Ed’s guidance and mentorship will also be key assets as we transition to the next generation of operations leaders at CN and position ourselves for the future.”

Reilly joined CN in 2019. 

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NS names new VP of audit and compliance

Norfolk Southern has promoted Jacqueline Gray to vice president of audit and compliance. Gray will take over the role from Susan Stuart, who is retiring on March 1.

Gray, who will transition to audit and compliance effective Jan. 1, is currently serving as assistant vice president of sourcing. 

Stuart joined NS (NYSE: NSC) in 1985 as an IT developer, serving in various roles in IT and accounting before becoming assistant vice president of accounting operations in 2008. She has been in her current role since 2017. 

“Throughout her decades of service, Susan has been a trusted partner and mentor to countless Norfolk Southern employees,” NS Chief Legal Officer Nabanita Nag said in a news release last week. “We wish her well in her retirement and thank her for her dedication to the Norfolk Southern team. [Jacqueline’s] excellent knowledge of Norfolk Southern’s business, as well as a strong accounting and audit background, make her a natural successor to Susan. Her leadership skills have had an immeasurable impact on the organization. We know that Jacquie will continue to be an agent for positive change and growth for Norfolk Southern in this new role.”

Gray, who began her current role in February 2021, started at NS in 2008 as a manager for financial reporting. Her other roles at NS have included assistant treasurer, assistant vice president of accounting operations and assistant vice president of financial planning and analysis. 

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Transport Canada seeks to fund rail resiliency projects

Transport Canada is planning to fund projects that will address rail infrastructure resiliency amid climate change impacts.

The federal agency is calling for proposals that would be financed by the climate change and adaptation to extreme weather infrastructure initiative, which itself is part of Transport Canada’s rail safety improvement program.

“A resilient rail transportation system is critical to strong supply chains and keeping those who live along rail lines safe,” Transport Canada said in a news release last week. “Recent events like the 2021 wildfires and floods have shown the impacts climate change and extreme weather events can have on communities and our transportation networks. We must continue to adapt and prepare for these impacts. This is why the government of Canada is taking important steps toward addressing climate change on railway infrastructure.”

The initiative will provide up to CA$10.5 million in funding this legislative year. Project objectives should seek to increase resilience to extreme weather events, advance climate change-related measures or support rehabilitation projects that involve infrastructure damaged by significant weather events, according to the agency. 

Proposals will be accepted through Jan. 6.

“Wildfires in July 2021 reduced railway operations by 30%, representing around $163 million per day in terms of blocked shipment value,” Transport Canada said. “Flooding in November 2021 hindered the movement of goods estimated to be more than $170 million per day due to lost train capacity and increased congestion at the Port of Vancouver.”

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F3: Future of Freight Festival


The second annual F3: Future of Freight Festival will be held in Chattanooga, “The Scenic City,” this November. F3 combines innovation and entertainment — featuring live demos, industry experts discussing freight market trends for 2024, afternoon networking events, and Grammy Award-winning musicians performing in the evenings amidst the cool Appalachian fall weather.

Joanna Marsh

Joanna is a Washington, DC-based writer covering the freight railroad industry. She has worked for Argus Media as a contributing reporter for Argus Rail Business and as a market reporter for Argus Coal Daily.