Exemplary Executives

Written by Railway Age Staff
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RAILWAY AGE, MAY 2023 ISSUE: Railway Age’s 2023 honorees—selected by our subscribers—approach their roles with an entrepreneurial spirit, and a commitment to service, safety and sustainability.

Railway Age’s fourth annual Readers’ Influential Leaders online poll garnered nominations for a large number of active (non-retired) people from all areas of the North American railway industry. We are pleased to present the top 10 nominees, plus two leaders receiving Honorable Mention. 

Pam Arpin, VP and Chief Information Officer, CPKC

Pam Arpin was named Canadian Pacific (CP) Vice President and Chief Information Officer (CIO) in July 2021 and assumed the role of CPKC Vice President and CIO on April 14, 2023, when CP combined with Kansas City Southern (KCS). Arpin is responsible for technical integration activities related to the merger, as well as redefining CPKC’s digital strategy and information services (IS) road map, enabling CPKC’s strategic business goals with the right investments in technology. Arpin leads a diverse team focused on discovering and implementing new technologies that return competitive advantage. By fostering a culture of innovation, her role positions CPKC for sustainable growth through strategically connecting people, processes, systems, data and assets. Arpin has navigated an extensive and varied career and has more than 25 years of experience working in commercial, operations, finance, customer service and technology roles. Her leadership and industry influence have received North American recognition, including being named as the 2019 Railway Woman of the Year by the League of Railway Women (LRW) and one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 by the Women’s Executive Network that same year. 

Printz Bolin, VP-External  Relations, Union Pacific

Printz Bolin joined Union Pacific (UP) in 1991 and was appointed Vice President-External Relations in December 2018. Bolin, who operates out of the railroad’s Washington, D.C., office, is responsible for UP’s advocacy programs regarding federal transportation and railroad issues, including economic and safety regulation, passenger rail and Amtrak, security, labor, and state-specific and other transportation projects. He serves as the primary liaison between elected officials, key Congressional Committees and Executive Branch agencies, including the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to promote and defend UP’s interests. In 2022, a year of tumultuous labor negotiations between UP and its labor unions, Bolin and his team obtained Congressional support and outreach to the White House encouraging the appointment of experienced, neutral arbitrators to the Presidential Emergency Board. Additionally, Bolin successfully lobbied Congress to prevent a work stoppage in December 2022 before UP had to begin shutdown procedures and issue embargoes by imposing the unratified Tentative Agreements with labor unions. Finally, he led the Public Affairs team in working with industry and coalition partners to defeat an amendment that would have altered the Tentative Agreements to include provisions unfavorable to UP business and cost the company millions of dollars per year.

Erika Bruhnke, VP of Training Services, RailPros

As Vice President of Training Services for RailPros, Erika Bruhnke leads the organization’s Training and Media Services divisions, which create and deliver vital rail safety programs to both contractor and railroad employees, as well as support the RailPros staff with their training needs. Prior to joining RailPros, Bruhnke held various operational and safety leadership positions at BNSF, establishing her understanding of railroad operations and the challenges rail employees face, which she later incorporated into the system-wide safety program, known then as Approaching Others. With her transition to RailPros, these same core principles established with BNSF are now being incorporated into industry-wide training programs, including several FRA-certified courses. Bruhnke is passionate about giving back and is heavily involved in numerous organizations, including the National Railroad Construction & Maintenance Association (NRC), the League of Railway Women (LRW), the American Railway Engineering & Maintenance-of-Way Association’s (AREMA) Committee 24, and the Supplier and Young Professionals Committees with the American Short Line & Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA).

Pete Claussen, Chairman, Gulf & Ohio Railways

Pete Claussen established Gulf & Ohio Railways in 1985. Gulf & Ohio owns and operates four railroads in the southeastern U.S., which will handle 50,000 carloads when industrial development projects that have been announced are completed. Claussen is also the Chairman of Knoxville Locomotive Works, Inc., a green locomotive manufacturing company based in Knoxville, Tenn. Prior to establishing Gulf & Ohio, Claussen worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority where he held numerous roles, including Attorney, Assistant General Counsel and Division Director. In 1979, he joined the 1982 World’s Fair as Vice President-Legal Counsel, leaving that position in 1983 with the wrap-up of the Fair Corporation. Claussen is also the founder of the Seven Islands Foundation, which donated most of the land to help create Tennessee’s 56th state park, The Seven Islands State Birding Park. He has served as a member of the Smithsonian National Board, as Co-Chairman of the Alumni Board, and has been a member and past Chairman of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Claussen presently serves on Boards, including the East Broad Top Foundation, Free Medical Clinic of America, Smithsonian Museum of American History Advisory Board, and Zoo Knoxville.

Paul Duncan, Executive VP and Chief Operating Officer, Norfolk Southern

Paul Duncan was appointed Norfolk Southern (NS) Chief Operating Officer (COO) in 2023 and is responsible for leading the teams that design and implement the company’s service schedules and operate the trains that safely move customer’s goods, as well as maintain and upgrade infrastructure and equipment. Departments reporting to him include Network Planning and Optimization, Network Operations, Engineering, Advanced Train Control (Mechanical and C&S), Safety and Environmental, Transportation, and the NS Police team. Duncan has more than 20 years of railroading experience. He joined NS in 2022 as Vice President Network Planning & Operations and was promoted to Senior Vice President Transportation & Network Operations. Previously, Duncan spent more than 19 years at BNSF, where began as a Hub Manager before holding several progressively responsible leadership positions in Intermodal Operations, Transportation, Network Operations, Capacity Planning, and Service Design. Most recently, he served as BNSF’s Vice President of Service Design and Performance. Duncan serves on the Boards of Directors of the Belt Railway of Chicago, Indiana Harbor Belt and Conrail.

Matt Igoe, Executive VP and Chief Operations Officer, BNSF Railway

Matt Igoe was appointed BNSF’s Executive Vice President and COO in 2021 and leads the railroad’s entire Operations organization. Following his career as an officer in the U.S. Army, Igoe joined BNSF in 1998 as a management trainee. He later worked in a variety of positions with increasing responsibility within the Marketing and Transportation organizations. Igoe served as General Manager for the Chicago Division between 2010 and 2012, and was later appointed to General Superintendent, Transportation. In 2013, he was promoted to serve as Regional Vice President for BNSF’s Central Region. In 2016, Matt was named Vice President, Service Design and Performance, and served in that role until being promoted to Vice President, Transportation in 2017.

Andrew Muller Jr., Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Reading & Northern

About 40 years ago, Andy Muller Jr. took a 13-mile, virtually abandoned branch line that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania had purchased from Conrail, leased it as designated operator, and began to grow the business that would eventually become 400-mile Class II Reading & Northern (RBMN). Railway Age’s four-time Regional of the Year (2002, 2011, 2015 and 2020).RBMN serves more than 70 customers in nine eastern Pennsylvania counties (Berks, Bradford, Carbon, Columbia, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Northumberland, Schuylkill and Wyoming). It has vastly expanded its operations over the past 40 years and now annually handles more than 34,000 carloads of freight and 250,000 steam- and diesel-powered excursion train riders. RBMN owns more than 1,700 freight cars and employs nearly 300. “The growth potential of this railroad, it just keeps going,” says Muller. “We didn’t miss a beat during the pandemic. We’re up 15%-20% in revenues every year. We’ve had record growth every year for the past 15 years. There’s so much potential. When the railroads started deteriorating in the ’70s, the people who lived in our area were still buying stuff. It just wasn’t coming on this railroad. It was coming into Philadelphia, being trucked out. It’s taken me 30 years to gradually get these commodities back, because it’s hard to break that chain when it’s moving.” RBMN’s success really flies in the face of the conventional wisdom that says, you give up traffic and it’ll never come back. It may take some time, but it can come back and grow. “It takes a lot of time and a lot of work,” adds Muller. “We chase new business all the time. Eventually, people say, ‘Wow. Andy and [RBMN President] Wayne Michel really have an interest in it.’ And then there’s our reputation for service. You can just about set your watch to our fast freight. It’s within five minutes every day. Our customers have a service window. There’s no, ‘Just when we get there.’ We ask when they want us there, and we get there. I don’t have any answering machines at this railroad until after five o’clock. You’ve got to answer the phone. If you call Reading & Northern, my people must answer the phone. They can’t look at the number and say, ‘Well, I don’t want to talk to them today.’ I think people can see my passion for the railroad business.”

John Orr, Executive VP and Chief Transformation Officer, CPKC

In the new strategic position of Chief Transformation Officer, John Orr is responsible for network operations planning and design, procurement, labor relations and regulatory affairs. Previously, Orr served as Executive Vice President Operations for Kansas City Southern (KCS), overseeing the Transportation, Engineering, Mechanical, Network Operations, Health-Safety-Environmental and Labor Relations teams from 2021 to 2023. A fourth-generation railroader, Orr began his career at CN in 1985, holding various leadership positions, including Senior Vice President and Chief Transportation Officer. Orr has also worked as an Executive Consultant since 2020, bringing more than 20 years of Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) experience to markets throughout Canada, the U.S., Mexico and Europe. Over the years, he has developed strong relationships within the industry, and with external stakeholders, including government and regulatory officials, customers, the community, and unions. Orr has co-authored “Entrepreneurial Railroading and its Ecosystems: The Evolution of Precision Scheduled Railroading” (Bot & Orr, 2020; second edition 2021), as well as six articles and a white paper. He is also a speaker, podcast guest and board member within the industry, and Board Chair of the Diversity Committee at the University of Memphis.

Ken Sherman, President, IntelliTrans

Ken Sherman is President of IntelliTrans, a leader in global multi-modal solutions for optimizing supply chain operations for bulk and break-bulk industries. Sherman leads the business unit, providing global direction for Information Technology, Product Management, and Account Management standards and practices. He supports the primary line of business by providing leadership and establishing metrics and operational processes. Sherman adds value to existing customers through innovative solutions and training materials to meet changing and growing demands. Since he joined the company almost 20 years ago, IntelliTrans has more than tripled its customer base, added deeper functionality in rail, expanded into over-the-road and water modes, invested deeply in its products, and greatly expanded its transportation management services. Sherman is a multi-faceted executive who has the unique ability to bring together the technical and commercial sides of the business. Previously, he served as Vice President at IntelliTrans. Prior to that, he worked at GE Corporation, Plastics Division, as Supply Chain Manager and Master Black Belt, where he was responsible for procurement, production planning, distribution, transportation, and warehousing. “Technology can help solve issues in the rail industry by automating transportation operations, including visibility into transportation management and managed transportation services to augment the workforce,” Sherman says. IntelliTrans has more than 25 years of experience in the rail industry, providing managed rail transportation services to monitor, manage and automate freight rail services. For one customer, IntelliTrans was able to reduce the rail fleet size by 5%; key customer inventory was reduced by 50%; and an issue where an average of 90 misrouted or lost railcars per month was resolved.

Carl Walker, AVP C&S, PTC/Dispatch Systems, CSX

As Assistant Vice President Communications and Signals, PTC and Dispatch Systems, Carl Walker plays a vital role in ensuring the efficient operation and safety of the CSX rail network. Since joining the CSX Engineering Department in 1999, Walker has ascended through leadership roles in the C&S department, including Assistant Chief Engineer of Signal Construction, Assistant Chief Engineer of Communications and Chief Engineer of C&S. He was promoted to his current role in May 2022. Walker’s leadership extends beyond CSX. He is member of the AREMA Board of Directors, as well as a Board Member at Meteorcomm, a rail communications technology company. He is the first African American to serve in either of these roles.

Honorable Mentions

Kevin Corbett, President and CEO, NJ Transit

Kevin Corbett was appointed to lead NJ Transit in February 2018, and is responsible for the nation’s largest statewide public transportation system, and third largest overall. Before joining NJ Transit, Corbett served as Vice President at AECOM, leading important projects that included the first phase of the Moynihan Station. Corbett is a Board Member on the APTA 2022-2023 Board of Directors; serves as the North American Representative to the Policy Board of UITP, the International Association of Public Transport; serves as Co-Chair on the Northeast Corridor Commission (NECC); and is also a Co-founder of the Commuter Rail Coalition (CRC).

Gary Wolf Owner, Wolf Railway Consulting

Gary Wolf has more than 52 years of experience in the rail industry, including a 17-year span at Southern/Norfolk Southern Railway, 26 years as Consultant and Owner of Rail Sciences Inc., and the past nine years in private consulting practice. Wolf began his career in 1970 in the Mechanical Engineering department of the Southern Railway, but since 1975, he has focused on the analysis and prevention of derailments. In addition, Wolf also practices in the areas of train operations, train dynamics and train make-up, vehicle dynamics, wheel/rail interface, and track maintenance and assessment. 

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