Norfolk Southern names new chief commercial officer

A photograph of a Norfolk Southern train hauling intermodal containers.

Norfolk Southern (NYSE: NSC) has announced that Cindy Sanborn will become the company’s chief operating officer (COO), effective September 1.

Sanborn will be replacing current COO Mike Wheeler, who is retiring from Norfolk Southern (NS) on October 1 after serving there for 35 years.

Sanborn most recently has been with Union Pacfic (NYSE: UNP) as the vice president for network planning for activities in Union Pacific’s (UP) northern region. 

Prior to UP, Sanborn was COO at NS competitor CSX (NASDAQ: CSX). In addition to being COO, Sanborn held other roles during her 30-year tenure there, including serving as executive vice president of operations, vice president and chief transportation officer and vice president for CSX’s northern region.

“Norfolk Southern is combining precision scheduled railroading [PSR] with a superior service product to create long-term value for shareholders,” said Sanborn. “I look forward to working with the NS management team to build on the momentum that’s already well under way.”

Like its eastern competitor and other Class I railroads, NS has been seeking to increase its market share and freight volumes, especially as the rail industry overall is looking to increase rail traffic and hedge against the systemic decline in U.S. coal production and coal volumes.

In their earnings calls, the railroads have said that they’re hoping service improvements as a result of PSR will help entice more shippers to choose rail over trucking. 

“When we began the search for our next chief operating officer, we looked for an experienced executive who could lead our operations and build on our successful implementation of precision scheduled railroading,” said NS President and CEO Jim Squires. “We are proud to welcome Cindy Sanborn, one of the freight rail industry’s leading operations experts, to the Norfolk Southern team as we work together to lower our operating ratio and deliver shareholder value.”

In today’s announcement, Wheeler thanked NS for his tenure at the company.

“It has been a privilege to be a part of Norfolk Southern and I am proud of all that we have accomplished, especially over the last few years,” Wheeler said. “I am confident in the future success of Norfolk Southern and look forward to working closely with Cindy to ensure a seamless handoff of leadership responsibilities.” 

NS will announce its second-quarter financial results on Wednesday, July 29. The company formally rolled out its version of PSR in July 2019, and it made a number of structural changes to its leadership this spring.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Joanna Marsh.

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