CN to replace top executive

Canadian National Railway is looking for a new chief executive officer.

The company’s board of directors announced March 5 that Luc Jobin, the company’s CEO since 2016, is leaving CN immediately.

In a March 5 news release, CN said Jean-Jacques Ruest will serve as CN’s interim president and chief executive officer until a permanent replacement for Jobin is named.

Ruest has been with the company for 22 years, the last eight as executive vice-president and chief marketing officer.

“The board believes the company needs a leader who will energize the team, realize CN’s corporate vision and take the company forward with the speed and determination CN is known for,” said board chair Robert Pace.

Jobin’s departure comes as CN faces growing criticism from shippers, particularly grain companies, who say the railway’s record for allocating cars has failed to meet expectations throughout much of the 2017-18 crop year.

According to the Ag Transport Coalition, a coalition of grain shippers that claims to represent nearly 90 percent of the western Canadian grain moved by rail, CN supplied on time just 17 percent of hopper cars ordered in the week ending Feb. 24.

Western Canadian farm groups are comparing the 2017-18 shipping year with the 2013-14, when a system-wide backlog slowed country grain movements and export grain shipments to a crawl.

Bill C-49, proposed federal legislation that is expected to improve rail service for the grain industry, is currently working its way through Parliament.

CN officials have conceded that the company’s performance has been hampered by unexpectedly strong demand in several sectors of the economy and harsh winter weather that has slowed train movements in some of the company’s key shipping corridors.

In response, the company has boosted capital spending and is bringing on new staff and locomotives.

In its March 5 news release, CN conceded that it must respond with speed and innovation to address the “immediate operational and customer service challenges the company has been facing since fall 2017.”

An international search for a new CEO is underway, CN said.


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