Baltimore native Michael J. Ward has been named president of CSX Transportation Inc., which operates the largest railroad in the Eastern United States - and the primary line serving the port of Baltimore.
Ward, 50, has been with the CSX Corp. subsidiary for his entire career, serving most recently as executive vice president of operations. Ward assumed that post in April after a management shake-up that coincided with the departure of Ronald J. Conway, who formerly headed CSX's railroad subsidiary.
In announcing the appointment yesterday, CSX Chairman John W. Snow credited Ward with leading the railroad's recovery after its rocky performance in the wake of the June 1999 acquisition of former Conrail assets. CSX and Norfolk Southern Corp. each took a portion of Conrail's assets in a deal worth $10.3 billion.
Integrating Conrail's lines proved more difficult than expected for the two railroads, resulting in misrouted freight, computer foul-ups and dispatching problems that prompted many shippers to bypass the railroads in favor of trucks. But CSX says those problems have been resolved.
Beginning in the spring, Ward formed a series of "performance improvement teams" to address the operational problems, leading to faster delivery times and reduced costs, Snow said.
"From an operational perspective, the railroad is running as well or maybe even a little better than prior to the Conrail merger," Ward said.
However, the railroad's earnings continue to suffer as a result of higher fuel costs and the lingering effects of the merger. CSX Corp. reported third-quarter operating income of $190 million from its rail and intermodal business, compared with $213 million posted for the third quarter of 1999.
Ward said the company is still looking to trim costs in its rail operations, including the possibility of eliminating 250 locomotives next year as a result of operating efficiencies.
Ward earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland in 1972 and received a master's degree in business administration from Harvard Business School in 1976. He began his CSX career in 1977 with the Chessie System in Baltimore. He now lives in Jacksonville, Fla.
Though CSX is the primary railroad serving the port of Baltimore, Norfolk Southern began competing for business here after its acquisition of Conrail lines in Maryland. CSX operates a 23,000-mile network in 23 states and two Canadian provinces.