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Rail News: Norfolk Southern Railway

NS: Recruits Orr from CPKC as new COO; sets shareholders meeting date in May

John Orr
Photo – Norfolk Southern Corp.


Norfolk Southern Corp. today announced it appointed John Orr executive vice president and chief operating officer, effective immediately. He will report to President and CEO Alan Shaw and succeed Paul Duncan, who departed NS to pursue other opportunities.

Orr most recently was EVP and chief transformation officer for Canadian Pacific Kansas City, where he oversaw network operations planning and design, labor relations and regulatory affairs. He led the integration and optimization of operations following Canadian Pacific's acquisition of Kansas City Southern in December 2021.

Orr previously was EVP of operations for KCS, where he successfully executed precision scheduled railroading initiatives focused on improving service. He also held a variety of positions at CN, including chief safety and sustainability officer, and senior VP and chief transportation officer.

Throughout his four-decade career, Orr has earned a reputation as a proven leader in applying scheduled railroading principles to drive sustainable long-term value creation. NS officials said in a press release. He spearheaded the turnaround of CPKC’s Mexico operations by successfully implementing a high-efficiency operating model, shaped and guided the execution of KCS’ service-focused scheduled railroading initiatives, and drove significant improvements in CN’s safety and operational performance, they said.

"John is a deeply respected and accomplished leader, and is the right chief operating officer to ensure execution of our strategy of balancing safe service, productivity and growth,” said Shaw. “He has a proven ability to build strong relationships with customers, regulators, unions and industry partners. His performance history as a disciplined and thoughtful operator makes him an ideal fit as we look to execute our balanced strategic plan that will deliver top-tier earnings and revenue growth at industry competitive margins.”

In exchange for certain considerations, CPKC leaders waived Orr's non-competition agreement to allow him to join NS. CPKC and NS entered into an agreement in connection with the waiver that includes a one-time waiver fee of $25 million plus certain operational and commercial considerations related to the Meridian Speedway and Meridian Terminal that are part of CPKC's proposed Meridian & Bigbee Railroad acquisition. NS also agreed to temporally limited no-hire and non-solicitation restrictions for a short list of CPKC employees.

The chief transformation officer role will not be replaced and Orr's portfolio will be integrated into CPKC's existing operational structure, CPKC officials said in a statement.

"On behalf of the board of directors and the CPKC family I would like to thank John for his contributions and impactful leadership," said CPKC President and CEO Keith Creel. "I have had the pleasure to serve and lead with John directly or indirectly for over the last two decades. His strong operating acumen and leadership capabilities has enabled him to build a strong team currently leading our CPKC Mexico Operations. As a result, the team is ready to take the reins and continue to build on the operational momentum generated since this historic combination took place last April.”

Meanwhile, NS also announced its 2024 annual shareholders meeting will be held May 9. During the meeting, stockholders will consider potential leadership and board member changes proposed by activist hedge fund Ancora Holdings Group LLC. The hedge fund’s leaders are attempting to replace a majority of NS’ board and install their own CEO and chief operating officer candidates.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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