Executive who streamlined Norfolk Southern’s terminal operations leaves railroad

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Mike Farrell headshot
Mike Farrell was Norfolk Southern’s senior vice president of operations and mechanical.
Norfolk Southern
NORFOLK, Va. – Norfolk Southern’s senior vice president of operations, Mike Farrell, has left the railroad, CEO Jim Squires announced in an email to employees on Monday.

Farrell’s departure comes exactly one week after NS announced that UP executive Cindy Sanborn would be its next chief operating officer, effective Sept. 1. Current chief operating officer, Michael Wheeler, is scheduled to retire on Oct. 1.

“Mike’s understanding of precision-scheduled railroading has been an asset to our company over the last two years,” Squires wrote. “We appreciate his drive for efficiency and his willingness to challenge the status quo. We wish him well in his future endeavors.”

No reason was given for Farrell’s departure.

A veteran of Union Pacific, Canadian National, and Canadian Pacific, Farrell began working for NS in summer 2017 as an operations consultant. He led the NS effort to “clean sheet” operations at its yards and terminals. The goal at the time was to design lower-cost, more efficient, and more reliable local and terminal operations.

Moving from terminal to terminal, Farrell worked with local operating officials, customers, short lines, and interchange partners to redesign local and yard service using the principles of Precision Scheduled Railroading.

Farrell was named senior vice president of transportation in November 2018 – just weeks after NS said it would adopt a PSR operating model – and a year ago was named senior vice president of operations and mechanical.

In his email to employees, Squires wrote that “PSR principles are firmly embedded in the Operations Division leadership team and producing results.”

“Going forward, we must execute on our strategic plan to reach a 60% operating ratio, provide service that will promote growth, and create long-term shareholder value,” Squires wrote. “We are excited that Cindy Sanborn will be joining the company as chief operating officer, effective Sept. 1, to build on our progress and achieve the full potential of Norfolk Southern.”
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