NEW YORK – Union Pacific Corp. surged the most since 2009 after hiring a protegé of railroading legend Hunter Harrison to guide the company’s shift to a new efficiency strategy.
Jim Vena, 60, will become chief operating officer on Jan. 14 and oversee the implementation of precision-scheduled railroading, a system pioneered by Harrison and adopted by Union Pacific late last year. Vena retired in June 2016 after a 40-year career at Canadian National Railway Co., Union Pacific said.
Vena has more than two decades of experience with precision scheduled railroading and more than 10 years working with Harrison, said Allison Landry, an analyst with Credit Suisse Group AG. The strategy, known as PSR, has helped improve profits at four major railroads, including Canadian National, Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. and most recently CSX Corp., where Harrison took the reins in 2017 before passing away in December of that year.
“This marks yet another milestone in the PSR chronicles at UNP, and puts the company one step closer to full network implementation by mid-2019 – which is now clearly visible,” Landry said in a note Monday. “We think execution risk is diminished.”