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Rail Roundup: Amtrak Gulf Coast update, CSX, Trac Intermodal, BNSF

STB denies railroads’ request for mediation in Amtrak’s Gulf Coast service proceeding

The Surface Transportation Board has denied a request by CSX (NASDAQ: CSX), Norfolk Southern (NYSE: NSC) and the Alabama Port Authority to allow a mediator to come between the railroads and Amtrak over Amtrak’s request to operate Gulf Coast service between New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama.

The railroads and the port had asked for board-sponsored mediation last on March 25, but STB denied that request for now. Any party could ask for mediation again to resolve any issues raised during evidentiary hearings before the board this Monday and at other times this week.

STB will hear from all parties further details about what passenger and freight rail service issues need to be resolved at an evidentiary hearing on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday and Friday could serve as additional days for the hearing.

“The board favors resolution of disputes through mediation rather than formal proceedings. However, the board notes that mediation has not been requested or agreed to by all parties since this proceeding began more than a year ago,” a Friday press release said. 

Amtrak had argued that the board should deny the request for mediation or refrain from deciding on the motion until after this week’s evidentiary hearing is over.

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CSX names Steve Fortune as chief digital and technology officer

CSX has appointed former BP executive Steve Fortune as executive vice president and chief digital and technology officer.

Fortune will lead CSX’s digital and technology operations and planning, CSX said. 

“We are pleased to announce the appointment of Steve Fortune and welcome him to CSX’s executive leadership team. CSX is focused on growing through innovation and being a leader in the transportation industry,” CSX President and CEO Jim Foote said. “Steve’s outstanding leadership and technical experience that he gained during his three-decade tenure at BP will be invaluable as we pursue our strategy to drive sustainable growth at CSX.”

Fortune’s most recent role prior to joining CSX was serving as chief information officer with global BP Group. He has also served as CIO and vice president for BP’s upstream oil and gas business, and he has also worked as a regional CIO. He began his tenure at BP as a chemical and process engineer before moving into operations management and then to information technology. 

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New Trac Intermodal chief commercial officer named

Trac Intermodal has a new chief commercial officer: Jake Gilene. He replaced Jim Bowe, who had served at Trac Intermodal for more than four decades before retiring on March 28.

Gilene most recently served as senior vice president of sales and customer service for CHEP, an operating division of Brambles, a supply chain and logistics company operating in more than 60 countries. In that role, Gilene led CHEP’s commercial and customer-related activity in the U.S. He has over 15 years of leadership experience at Brambles, according to Trac.

Bowe had served as Trac’s chief commercial officer since 2018; prior to that, he held senior management roles in Trac’s customer service, operations and commercial departments. Although his retirement was effective last week, he will serve Trac in an advisory role for the remainder of 2022.

“To our customers, Jim has been the face of TRAC in North America and around the world for many years and our organization has greatly benefited from his leadership and the lasting customer relationships he has built during his tenure,” said Trac Intermodal President and CEO Daniel Walsh.

“Jake’s well-rounded background in logistics, sales and customer service makes him an ideal choice as our next chief commercial officer. TRAC has a proud history of best-in-class customer relationships and we are excited to have Jake leading those efforts.”

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BNSF expands intermodal service between Los Angeles and St. Louis

Since last Tuesday, BNSF (NYSE: BRK.B) has expanded its direct-rail intermodal service between Los Angeles and St. Louis in a bid to increase its market reach, frequency and capacity in an intermodal lane connecting Southern California and key Midwest markets.

The new domestic, container-only service will be offered five days a week for eastbound and three days a week for westbound freight, BNSF said in a March 22 customer notice. The expanded service will be available for customers originating shipments at BNSF’s Hobart intermodal facility in the Los Angeles area. 

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