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Metra taps Derwinski as executive director, CEO

James Derwinski
Photo – Metra

Metra's board has chosen James Derwinski as the Chicago commuter railroad's next executive director and chief executive officer.

He will succeed Don Orseno, who earlier this year announced plans to retire the end of 2017, Metra announced yesterday in a press release.

Derwinski, 49, currently serves as chief mechanical officer of Metra, where he oversees 650 employees performing repairs, inspections, cleaning and maintenance of nearly 1,200 rail cars and locomotives.

He's also in charge of Metra's in-house rail-car locomotive rehabilitation programs, as well as its contract for locomotive remanufacturing and installation of positive train control on cab cars and engines.

Metra Vice Chairman Romayne Brown, who led the board's search for a new leader, described Derwinski as an innovator willing to try new things that have saved money for the railroad.

"With our funding challenges, we need someone with his proven energy and resourcefulness to keep us on track as we face some difficult years ahead. Jim is that person," said Brown.

Derwinski began his rail career in 1993 after having served the U.S. Navy for six years as an electrician on nuclear submarines. For his first railroading job, he worked as a locomotive electrician with the Chicago & North Western Railroad.

In 1997, he joined Metra as an electrician and rose through the ranks. Other roles he's held at the railroad include foreman, general foreman, shop superintendent, director of systems maintenance, locomotive superintendent and senior director of mechanical operations.

Derwinski was named chief mechanical officer in September 2013.

"With Jim's background, railroad knowledge and collaborative working relationship with BNSF [Railway Co.], Union Pacific [Railroad] and the regulatory agencies, I am confident he will hit the ground running when he takes the helm at Metra in 2018," Orseno said. "I will be pleased to leave the agency under Jim's leadership."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/17/2017