FROM THE EDITOR, NOVEMBER 2021 ISSUE: Hunter Harrison, who four years ago left for that PSR railroad originating at the Heavenly Gates, where St. Peter, holding a gleaming crystal Hamilton railroad timepiece
Hunter Harrison has, without a doubt, become a legend in the railroad industry. Throughout his career, he introduced many new methods for addressing the high costs inherent in such a labor-intensive heavy industry. He demonstrated the importance of partnering with customers and suppliers to create synergistic solutions. His business strategies are still being talked about and applied. But his personality will never again be replicated.
Not that long ago, E. Hunter Harrison’s methods and strategy for CSX were subject to close scrutiny, tough questioning, much doubt, some head scratching (close 8 of 12 hump yards, anyone?), customers complaining, labor opposition and STB inquiries. All of that and more was in response to Hunter’s trademarked program of “Precision Scheduled Railroading.”
As it deploys a new operating system, Union Pacific has appointed Jim Vena as Chief Operating Officer, effective Jan. 14. He was a 40-year veteran of CN before retiring in 2016.
“We have no skepticism in Canadian Pacific’s post-Hunter world, said Cowen and Company Managing Director and Railway Age Wall Street Contributing Editor Jason Seidl in comments on Canadian Pacific’s Oct. 4 investor day and 3Q2018 preliminary results. “We are encouraged by CP’s opportunities in intermodal and grain, and believe that increased free cash flow will give management the option to raise the dividend or pay down high yielding debt. We raise our price target to $236.”
If ever there were a human equivalent to liver and onions—hated or loved, but no in-between—it was the late Ewing Hunter Harrison III, a chief executive of four major North American railroads, personally synonymous with the term “Precision Scheduled Railroading,” and whose mention invokes often disquieting debate on theories of management and how best to deliver shareholder value in the short- and long-term.
The late Hunter Harrison’s body of work “will likely be talked about in railroad circles for decades to come,” says Cowen and Company Managing Director and Railway Age Wall Street Contributing Editor Jason Seidl. “CSX’s Board of Directors will be under significant pressure to find a replacement with an operating background quickly.”
E. Hunter Harrison is gone. Railway Age’s twice-honored Railroader of the Year (2002 and 2015) died on Saturday, Dec. 16, in Wellington, Fla., from what CSX, the railroad that ultimately became the last stop in a long and distinguished career, attributed to “unexpectedly severe complications from a recent illness.” He was only 73.
CSX Corp. said that Chief Executive Officer and President E. Hunter Harrison is on medical leave due to unexpected complications from a recent illness.