NS COO resigns, Indiana Rail Road appoints new officer

Two announcements made Monday deal with leadership changes in the rail freight industry:

Norfolk Southern COO resigns; Successor starts on January 1st

Paul Duncan will succeed Cindy Sanborn. (Photo: NS)

Cindy Sanborn, a 35-year railroad industry veteran, will step down as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Norfolk Southern at the end of the year.

Paul Duncan, currently Senior Vice President of Transportation and Network Operations at NS, will succeed Sanborn effective January 1.

Sanborn joined NS (NYSE: NSC) during the COVID-19 pandemic, having previously held positions at Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP) and NS competitor CSX (NASDAQ: CSX).

Sanborn “helped us navigate a global supply chain disruption. She has strengthened our culture, served as an effective ambassador to our external stakeholders and has been part of a team effort that has resulted in significant improvements in service,” said Alan Shaw, NS President and CEO, in a press release.

Shaw also praised Sanborn’s contributions not only to NS but to the industry as a whole: “Cindy’s influence extends far beyond Norfolk Southern. As the first female Chief Operating Officer of a Class 1 railroad in the United States, she was a trailblazer and an inspiration to many in the industry.”

In a statement, Sanborn said: “I’m proud of the progress we’ve made over the last two and a half years in terms of service, safety and culture. As Norfolk Southern prepares to take the next step in our growth strategy, it is the right time for our next generation of talented operations managers to take the reins.”

Duncan has been with NS since March, starting as Vice President of Network Planning and Operations. He was promoted to his current role in September. During his tenure at NS, he led the implementation of the TOP|SPG operations plan, the latest iteration of NS’s operations plan that leverages precisely planned railroads, a method adopted by Class I railroads to streamline operations.

NS said Duncan has played a pivotal role in leading the railroad’s recovery efforts and “deserves credit for his ability to bring people together and work effectively across teams to achieve results.”

“Paul is widely respected in the industry as one of the most talented leaders in the next generation of railway operations managers. Combining a deep understanding of precisely scheduled rail service with a strong customer-centric mindset, he appreciates the need to balance service, productivity and growth,” said Shaw. “Paul is also the right leader to continue our progress by involving our craft railroaders and field supervisors.”

Prior to NS, Duncan was Vice President of Service Design and Performance at BNSF (NYSE:BRK.B). He also served as associate vice president of capacity planning, where he oversaw capital planning for BNSF’s physical infrastructure and led the network strategy team, NS said.

Indiana Rail Road Appoints New Superintendent

Indiana Rail Road Co. (INRD) has appointed Derrick Wright as Vice President of Operations and Mechanical. Wright will lead the short-haul railroad’s transportation, mechanical, railroad service and safety departments.

Derrick Wright will take on a new role at Indiana Rail Road. (Photo: INDR)

“Derrick’s experience and ability to develop continuity across departments will be a great asset… He is a great fit for our team as we continue to evolve as a leading transportation service provider,” said President and CEO Dewayne Swindall in a press release.

Wright holds a Masters of Science degree in transportation management from the University of Denver and a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Eastern Kentucky University. He has over 20 years of Class I and short-haul railroad leadership experience, most recently serving as Chief Operating Officer for the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District. He also served as vice president of the former Midwest region at Genesee & Wyoming and held several roles at CSX.

INDR is a 500-mile railroad that serves southwest Indiana and eastern Illinois, with access to the national rail network through gateways in Chicago, Indianapolis, and Newton, Illinois.

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