E. Hunter Harrison

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E. Hunter Harrison
Ewing Hunter Harrison

(1944-11-07)November 7, 1944
DiedDecember 16, 2017(2017-12-16) (aged 73)
OccupationRailway executive

Ewing Hunter Harrison (November 7, 1944 – December 16, 2017) was a railway executive who served as the CEO of Illinois Central Railroad (IC), Canadian National Railway (CN), Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), and CSX Corporation. He died on December 16, 2017, two days after taking medical leave from CSX.


Born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1944,[3] Harrison began his railroad career in 1964 when he worked as a carman-oiler for the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway ("Frisco"), while attending Memphis State University.[4] Harrison was later promoted to railroad operator with Frisco and, later, with Burlington Northern Railroad (BN) following that company's acquisition of Frisco in 1980. Harrison was consistently promoted at BN, eventually being appointed Vice-President - Transportation as well as Vice-President - Service Design.[5]

Harrison left the BN in 1989 and secured a job with the executive team at the Illinois Central Railroad (IC), first as Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, culminating with his appointment as President and Chief Executive Officer from 1993 to 1998. Following the acquisition of IC by CN in 1998, Harrison was appointed Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer by CN. Upon the retirement of Paul Tellier, he was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of CN on January 1, 2003, serving in that position until his retirement on December 31, 2009.[citation needed]

During his time at CN, Harrison was named Railroader of the Year for 2002 by industry trade journal Railway Age as well as CEO of the Year for 2007 by The Globe and Mail's "Report on Business".[6] On April 29, 2009, CN announced the company's plan for succession in Harrison's position by appointing Claude Mongeau as his successor effective January 1, 2010. Following his service at CN, Harrison retired to his estate in Connecticut where he raised and trained horses for show jumping. Bound by a non-competition clause with CN, Harrison maintained a low profile serving as a director for the Belt Railway of Chicago as well as Dynegy Holdings LLC.[citation needed]

In fall 2011, Harrison was approached by the hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management led by activist investor Bill Ackman, who was undertaking a proxy battle with the board of directors of CPR. Ackman had offered at that time to appoint Harrison as President and Chief Executive Officer of CPR should his proxy battle in spring 2012 be successful, which would necessarily result in the termination of Fred Green as President and CEO. Ackman was ultimately successful in the proxy battle at the CPR's annual shareholder meeting on May 17, 2012.[7] On June 29, 2012, Harrison was appointed President and CEO of CPR.[8]

CN halted nearly $40-million in benefits to be paid to Harrison after launching a lawsuit alleging he may have breached, or intended to breach, several confidentiality agreements with the railway dating back to his retirement in 2009. In the suit, CN's board of directors said it had grounds to believe Harrison may have violated his commitments to CN as part of push by activist shareholder William Ackman and his New York-based hedge fund, Pershing Capital Management LLC, to see Harrison replace Fred Green as CEO of rival CPR Ltd.[9]

On January 18, 2017, Harrison abruptly resigned as CEO of CPR Ltd. Instead, he joined Paul Hilal in involving himself in the management of CSX Corp., a US competitor.[10][11] On March 7, 2017, Harrison was named CEO of CSX.[12]

Harrison died on December 16, 2017 due to severe complications from a recent illness,[13] two days after taking medical leave from CSX.[14] He was 73 and survived by his wife, Jeannie, and two daughters, Elizabeth (Libby) Julo and Cayce Judge.[15]


  1. ^ "CSX Announces Death of CEO E. Hunter Harrison". CSX. Retrieved 16 December 2017.
  2. ^ a b Tomesco, Frederic (17 December 2017). "Hunter Harrison, Famed Railroad Turnaround CEO, Dies at 73". Bloomberg News.
  3. ^ "CP's Hunter Harrison: 'There is a new sheriff in town'". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  4. ^ "Investor 500". Canadian National Railway Co. Archived from the original on May 22, 2011. Retrieved November 14, 2006.
  5. ^ "E. Hunter Harrison". CBR.ca. Archived from the original on October 24, 2006. Retrieved November 14, 2006.
  6. ^ "CN Board of Directors approves one-year contract extension for company's president and chief executive officer" (Press release). Canadian National Railway. November 30, 2006. Retrieved December 11, 2006.
  7. ^ ‘High probability’ ex-CNR head would take CP helm", Financial Post; accessed April 27, 2014.
  8. ^ "As Harrison takes CP’s top job, Ackman's coup is complete", The Globe and Mail; accessed April 27, 2014.
  9. ^ "CN suspends Hunter Harrison's pension payments". The Globe and Mail. 2012-01-23. Retrieved 2015-02-15.
  10. ^ Benoit, David; Ziobro, Paul; McNish, Jacquie (January 19, 2017), CSX Investors Cheered by Former Rail Rival’s Sudden Switch, New York: The Wall Street Journal, retrieved January 22, 2017
  11. ^ Allaire, Yvan; Dauphin, Francois (January 24, 2017), Someone just hired Hunter Harrison for $100 million — and there’s an excellent reason why, Toronto: Financial Post, retrieved January 24, 2017
  12. ^ Stephens, Bill (March 7, 2017). "Hunter Harrison named CEO at CSX Transportation". Trains.com. Waukesha, Wisconsin, USA. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  13. ^ "Hunter Harrison: CSX railway boss dies". BBC News. 16 December 2017. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  14. ^ "CSX CEO Hunter Harrison Has Died". The Wall Street Journal. 16 December 2017. Retrieved 16 December 2017.
  15. ^ Glavan, Ann (16 December 2017). "Top Show Jumping Owner And Sponsor Hunter Harrison Passes Away". Chronicle of the Horse. Retrieved 19 December 2017.

Further reading[edit]

  • Green, Howard (2018). Railroader: The Unfiltered Genius and Controversy of Four-Time CEO Hunter Harrison (1st ed.). Page Two. ISBN 978-1989025048.
Preceded by
Edward Moyers
President of Illinois Central Railroad
1993 – 1998
purchase by Canadian National Railway
Preceded by
Mike Haverty (ATSF, KCS)
Railroader of the Year
Succeeded by
Richard K. Davidson (UP)
Preceded by
Paul Tellier
President of Canadian National Railway
2003 – 2009
Succeeded by
Claude Mongeau
Preceded by
Frederic J. "Fred" Green
President & CEO of Canadian Pacific
2012 – 2017
Succeeded by
Keith Creel
Preceded by
Michael J. Ward
CEO of CSX Corporation
Succeeded by
James M. Foote (acting)