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Union Pacific taps former CN operations chief Vena as COO

Jim Vena
Photo – RailTrends files


Union Pacific Railroad has named Jim Vena chief operating officer, effective Jan. 14.

Vena, 60, previously was executive vice president and COO at CN before retiring in June 2016. He served CN for 40 years, holding positions of increasing responsibility in operations, marketing and sales, including senior VP of each of the Class I's three operating regions, and SVP of marketing and sales.

Vena now will lead all aspects of UP's operations, including the implementation of Unified Plan 2020, which was launched in October 2018. The new operating plan combines precision scheduled railroading (PSR) principles with "UP Way" tools and best practices.

Vena will report to UP Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Lance Fritz, while EVP of Operations Tom Lischer and EVP and Chief Strategy Officer Lynden Tennison will report to Vena.

During his tenure as CN's COO, Vena helped generate the North American rail industry's best operating ratio and achieve the best safety incident ratio in the Class I's history, UP officials said in a press release.

"We have been making excellent strides rolling out Unified Plan 2020, and Jim's vast knowledge of the [PSR] model brings significant experience and expertise that will enhance the work already underway,” said Fritz.

Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. analyst Benjamin Hartford agrees that Vena's experience will help UP solidify its evolution to PSR principles under Unified Plan 2020.
"UP has been transitioning to a new operating plan … with [PSR] concepts underpinning the plan. The three-phase plan is progressing, with the third phase scheduled to begin in January/February and be completed by mid-2019," Hartford said in an emailed report.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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