- CSX officially named James Foote president and CEO on Dec. 22, 2017.
- Foote was brought into CSX in October by former CEO E. Hunter Harrison for his experience implementing Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) at Canadian National.
- Upon Harrison's death, CSX named the then COO as acting CEO, pledging to maintain Harrison's legacy and projects within the railway.
Foote's rapid promotion to CEO shows CSX's board of directors remains fully committed to the transition to PSR that Harrison began this year.
CSX's future was placed into doubt when Harrison died suddenly last Saturday, shortly after taking a medical leave. The company had faced a board battle to install the railroad legend no less than 12 months prior, and now the chief architect of the railway's proposed turnaround would no longer be a part of the plan. Questions were plenty as investors fled the company, leading shares to drop 9.7% in that time span.
But the bet on PSR was always a long-term gamble. After emerging victorious from the board battle, Harrison was granted a four-year contract. Not long thereafter, CSX replaced two chief executives in favor of Foote, who had worked with Harrison in the past. Reports show the company knew Harrison was sick — albeit few know how sick — so a succession plan was likely top of mind, even upon his hiring.
Foote, a 40-year railroad veteran with experience in finance, operations, sales and marketing familiar with Harrison's model, was a natural fit.
"I worked alongside Hunter for over a decade and his pioneering approach to railroading unlocked significant efficiencies and value, and we remain focused on delivering on this vision for CSX, our customers and our shareholders," Foote said in a statement. "The execution of Precision Scheduled Railroading is well underway, with the most critical components of the implementation completed and beginning to generate measurable operating improvement."
It's a change in leadership for CSX, but hardly a change in strategy. Foote promised further updates would come at the company's investor day in March.