CSX and the long and winding "next"

On March 6, CSX Corp. named Hunter Harrison chief executive officer, effective immediately. He succeeded Michael Ward, who last month announced his decision to retire as chairman and CEO. Ward will serve CSX as a consultant until he retires on May 31. The naming of Harrison as CSX CEO came less than a month after Canadian Pacific announced Harrison would retire as that railroad's CEO at January's end so he could "pursue opportunities" at other railroads.

I'd expected the process to be longer and a bit more winding, as I noted in my March column. I expect it'll be at least a little while before we see what comes next at CSX — whether there'll be more changes at the management level, for example — and longer still for what might come next in Class I country. There were rumblings about end games and the like in 2015 and early 2016 before Harrison-led CP called off its attempt to merge with Norfolk Southern. We'll hear 'em again in the months ahead, I imagine, as the changes Harrison makes at CSX begin to take shape — and as other railroads consider or plan their own next competitive steps. Those steps and that road will be long and winding, I'm sure. Or at least as sure as I am of anything in these interesting, interesting times. We'll keep our eyes on the road.

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