Patriot Rail Names Christian CEO

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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Brandy D Christian

Patriot Rail Company, U.S. operator of Class II and III freight railroads, transloading and other rail services companies has named Brandy D. Christian as the firm’s next Chief Executive Officer. Christian will join Patriot Rail on June 17, and after a brief transition period will succeed John E. Fenton, who is retiring after 12 years.

Christian brings more than 25 years of freight transport, infrastructure development, and rail sector experience to Patriot Rail. Christian served as President and CEO of the Port of New Orleans, the nation’s 10th largest port by general cargo tonnage, and CEO of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad.

“Brandy is an exceptional global supply chain and freight rail executive with the vision, perspective and expertise to lead Patriot Rail in its accelerating growth and development,” said Deb Butler, Patriot Rail board chair. “We are grateful to John for his exemplary contributions in guiding the company through significant expansion for more than a decade, establishing an unparalleled culture of safety and employees first while delivering top customer service and value.”

“I’m thrilled to join Patriot Rail, a stellar industry pacesetter committed to safety excellence, teamwork, and delivering value for customers,” Christian said. “Patriot Rail has an admirable culture of employee-first collaboration. I look forward to working with the team to build on their achievements and guide Patriot’s continued growth as a freight logistics and supply chain leader and the partner of choice for rail-focused strategic infrastructure investment.”

Since Igneo Infrastructure Partners acquired Patriot Rail in 2019, the company has grown organically and through acquisitions, from 13 to 31 railroads, including Salt Lake Garfield & Western Railway in 2021 and Pioneer Lines, Inc. in 2022. In 2023, Patriot Rail acquired Delta Southern Railroad, Hydra Distribution & Rail Services and Hydra Transport, and what is now the Granite State Scenic Railway.

John Fenton. Patriot Rail photo.

“It has been a privilege heading up Patriot Rail over the past 12 years,” Fenton said. “During that period, we expanded to more than 30 railroads in 24 states and built an industry-leading reputation for safety, value, and partnership with our customers. I am thankful to the team and confident that the company will shine under Brandy’s management.”

Brandy Christian joined the Port of New Orleans (Port NOLA) as Chief Operating Officer in 2015 and was appointed President and CEO in 2017. In 2018 Christian led the development of a Port NOLA master plan to align all four lines of business—cargo, cruise, real estate and rail—that provided “a strategic roadmap for sustainable and inclusive growth,” Patriot Rail noted She also oversaw the largest economic development project in Louisiana history, the $1.8 billion Louisiana International Terminal, set for construction in 2025 and the centerpiece of the capital improvement of the more than 2,500 acres of maritime, industrial and rail property.

At Port NOLA, Christian led the acquisition and merger of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad (NOPB), connecting the rail and maritime supply chain across the region. The NOPB is the fourth-largest rail gateway in the U.S., serving Port NOLA and interchanging directly with six Class I railroads. “Under Christian, NOPB increased operating income by nearly 300% and improved safety, operating efficiency, and service,” Patriot Rail noted.

Previously, Christian was Vice President of Strategy and Business Development for the Port of San Diego and was a management consultant with KPMG. Christian has served in multiple advisory and board roles, including the U.S. Surface Transportation Board Railroad-Shipper Transportation Advisory Council, the Green Marine Board of Directors, the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank Trade and Transportation Advisory Council, the Louisiana Board of International Commerce, and the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors.

Christian holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Southern California and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona.

Patriot Rail Company owns and operates more than 30 short line and regional freight railroads across the country, and three nationally recognized scenic excursion trains. As one of the largest short line holding companies in North America, Patriot Rail has a presence in 24 states. Supporting services for customers include transloading, railcar storage, and real estate and logistics planning and assistance.

Igneo is an autonomous investment team in the First Sentier Investors Group. The company says it “invests in high-quality, mature, mid-market infrastructure companies in renewables, digital infrastructure, waste management, water utilities and transportation/logistics sectors in the U.K., Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. Operating since 1994, the team works closely with portfolio companies to create long-term sustainable value through innovation, a focus on responsible investment and proactive asset management. As of March 31, 2024, Igneo managed more than $18.8 billion in assets for more than 200 investors around the world.”

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