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Rail News: CSX Transportation

CSX's Jim Foote to receive 2020 Railroad Innovator Award from Progressive Railroading, RailTrends

James Foote joined CSX in October 2017.
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By Pat Foran, Editor

Progressive Railroading and RailTrends® have named CSX President and Chief Executive Officer James Foote the 2020 recipient of the Railroad Innovator Award, which recognizes an individual's outstanding achievement in the rail industry.

A longtime railroader, Foote joined CSX in October 2017 as the railroad's executive vice president and chief operating officer. As COO, he aligned the Class I's operations and sales and marketing departments to advance the precision scheduled railroading (PSR) model introduced at CSX by the late E. Hunter Harrison. 

Since taking the railroad's reins in late December 2017, Foote has focused on safety and service, transitioning CSX into the next PSR phase.

"In doing many of the things Jim said he would do, he has led CSX past PSR 1.0 into 2.0, what I call the Post-Hunter Railroad, or PHR," says independent transportation analyst Tony Hatch, who is a program consultant for the annual RailTrends conference. "While he follows some great rail leaders, it is Jim who has finally taken CSX to industry leadership."

Foote began his railroad career in the mechanical department on the Soo Line Railroad, repairing locomotives and performing a variety of operations jobs. Moving rapidly from the front lines into management positions of increasing responsibility, he joined the Chicago and North Western Railroad, where he held senior positions in finance, law, labor relations and corporate communications, eventually becoming vice president of corporate development, investor relations and tax. 

In 1995, Foote joined CN and again rose through the ranks, eventually being named EVP of sales and marketing in 1999. He was serving in that role in 2003, when the Class I named Harrison CEO and began implementing scheduled/precision railroading. During that time, Foote pursued an aggressive marketing strategy that included the introduction of new intermodal and carload services that, in coordination with the operations team, reduced transit times and resulted in significant traffic growth.

Before joining CSX, Foote was president and CEO of Bright Rail Energy from 2012 to 2017. The company develops and sells products that enable railroads to switch locomotives to natural gas power.

Progressive Railroading and RailTrends previously presented Railroad Innovator Awards to Kansas City Southern's Pat Ottensmeyer, Association of American Railroads’ Ed Hamberger, Genesee & Wyoming Inc.'s Jack Hellmann, CN's Claude Mongeau, CSX's Michael Ward, Canadian Pacific's Keith Creel, Norfolk Southern Corp.'s Wick Moorman, Union Pacific Corp.'s Jim Young, KCS's Mike Haverty, BNSF Railway Co.'s Matt Rose and CN's E. Hunter Harrison.

Foote will receive the award during RailTrends 2020, which will be held Nov. 19-20 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. For more information, log onto

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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