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Railway Age’s 2024 ‘Fast Trackers’ To Be Honored at NGFR

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
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Railway Age’s Next-Gen Freight Rail 2024 Conference will celebrate the magazine’s newest class of “Fast Trackers,” 25 North American railroaders under age 40 who have made an impact in their respective fields or within their company. The March 12 conference will hold an awards luncheon in their honor, sponsored by Plasser American.

Established in 2016, Railway Age’s annual awards are presented to top young professionals, representing freight and passenger railroads, as well as the supply and consultant/contractor and government communities. Candidates, who had to be under the age of 40 as of Jan. 1, 2024, were judged on criteria that included industry experience and education, leadership skills, industry contributions, and community service involvement.

“The field was strong, which bodes well for the future,” said Michigan State Center for Railway Research & Education Director Nick Little, who served as program judge and will present the awards at the Next-Gen Freight Rail 2024 luncheon. “This year, there was a noticeable reduction in IT people as these skills clearly become assimilated into the more traditional roles. Many nominees talked about internal and external cooperation and cross-functional leadership qualities. I continue to be amazed by the contributions these young people have made in their careers alongside maintaining quality of life. Ten of the 25 are female, which says a lot about the quality of women in rail today. The range of backgrounds and skills range from locomotive engineer to civil engineer and from project leader to operations manager, and everything in between.”

Railway Age’s 25 “Fast Trackers” Under 40 Awards Luncheon is just one part of Next-Gen Freight Rail 2024. Join us from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Union League Club of Chicago as we discuss the freight rail industry’s future with thought leaders covering a wide variety of relevant issues.

Speaker Lineup


Our lineup includes no fewer than three Class I C-Suite executives, whose railroads span North America. We will lead off with Union Pacific (UP) President Beth Whited, with UP CEO Jim Vena continuing the conversation. What is their perspective on building the UP of the future?

Next, Railway Track & Structures’s 2023 Engineer of the Year and CN Vice President of Engineering Brent Laing will address engineering excellence at the Class I railroad. And, Genesee & Wyoming CEO Michael Miller will discuss how  people matter most at his short line holding company.

Keeping with our theme of next-generation freight rail, we will take a deep dive into Norfolk Southern’s (NS) and the Georgia Tech Research Institute’s Digital Train Inspection Portal with NS AVP Enterprise Data & Analytics Mabby Amouie.

You won’t want to miss our closing session with Railway Age’s 2024 Railroader of the Year and CN President and CEO Tracy Robinson.

Speakers will engage in informal “fireside chat” style conversations, offering their candid thoughts on each subject. 

Supporting Organizations

In addition to its speakers, Railway Age’s Next-Gen Freight Rail 2024 Conference is supported by the following sponsors: CN (gold), Piper (gold), RECO (gold), TrinityRail (gold), Plasser American (luncheon), 4AI Systems (case study), Amsted Digital Solutions (case study), Herzog (registration), RailWorks (energy break), Genesee & Wyoming (bronze), Michigan State Center for Railway Research and Education (bronze), The Greenbrier Companies (bronze), TransmetriQ, a Railinc Brand (bronze), Union Pacific (bronze), and Edna A. Rice Executive Recruiters (morning coffee break).

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