CSX names Canadian National veteran Ed Harris as top operating official

RELATED TOPICS: EAST | OPERATIONS | CSX | PEOPLE
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EdHarris
Ed Harris, CSX Transportation Chief Operating Officer
CSX Corp.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — CSX Transportation has named Ed Harris, an Illinois Central and Canadian National veteran with extensive Precision Scheduled Railroading experience, as its top operating officer.

The move, announced on Jan. 8, strengthens the management team at CSX in the wake of E. Hunter Harrison’s death in December.

Jim Foote, who came to the railroad as chief operating officer as part of an October management shakeup, replaced Harrison as CEO on Dec. 22. Foote had been handling operations and sales and marketing roles before becoming chief executive, and industry analysts expected him to name a chief operating officer.

Analyst Anthony Hatch of ABH Consulting said Harris’ appointment answers shareholders’ question of “who’s running the store” in operations, given Foote’s background is primarily in the marketing and financial sides of railroading.

Hatch says Harris is a “solid guy steeped in Precision Scheduled Railroading success.”

“I am thrilled to have Ed join the CSX team and believe his railroading experience, including nearly a decade working closely with me at CN, will be invaluable in achieving our ultimate goal of establishing CSX as the best railroad in North America,” Foote said in a statement.

Harris, 67, has four decades of operations experience. He worked closely with Harrison while Precision Scheduled Railroading was implemented at both IC and CN.

John Larkin, an analyst at Stifel Equity Research, says Harris is well-qualified.

“He knows Precision Railroading inside and out and his industrial development experience, well honed while leading OmniTrax, is very relevant to helping attract more traffic to CSX,” Larkin says.

“The pace of transformation that CSX has accomplished in such a short period of time has been remarkable and I am excited to get to work,” Harris said in a statement. “Similar to Jim, I have spent many years implementing the scheduled railroading operating plan and I am confident that I can make an immediate contribution to CSX.”

Harris retired from CN as executive vice president of operations in January 2007.

"Ed has played a key role in executing CN's precision railroading practices and making the company the most efficient carrier in the rail industry,” Harrison, then CN’s chief executive, said at the time.

Harris began his railroad career as a yard clerk for the IC. He rose through the ranks and was IC’s vice president of operations when CN acquired IC in 1998. Harris went on to become CN’s executive vice president of operations in March 2005.

After retiring from CN, Harris briefly served as the operations chief at rival Canadian Pacific. But he announced his retirement in March 2011 unexpectedly, after just 11 months on the job. Later in the year he was named to CP’s board of directors.

Harris, who holds the title of executive vice president of operations at CSX, also has worked as a rail consultant and for shortline operator OmniTrax.

Harris holds a Bachelor of Science degree in management from the University of Illinois, Chicago, and served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1969 to 1973.
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