Stuart T. Saunders

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This article is about the railroad executive. For the cricket player, see Stuart Saunders.

Stuart Thomas Saunders, Sr. (1909–1987) was an American railroad executive.

Conferring outside Hearing Room of Interstate Commerce Commission in Washington, D.C., Alfred E. Perlman (right), President of New York Central Railroad, confers with Stuart W. Saunders, Chairman of Pennsylvania Railroad, about employee protection agreement.

Saunders served as president of the Norfolk and Western Railway, one of the nation's most profitable ones, from 1958 to 1963. During his tenure, the company merged with the Virginian Railway and began negotiations to merge with the Nickel Plate Road, the Wabash Railroad and portions of the Pennsylvania Railroad (the mergers were completed in 1964 after Saunders left the company). Saunders also oversaw construction of a high-speed coal pier in Norfolk, Virginia that expanded the N&W's core activity (transporting coal from West Virginia to Hampton Roads for follow-on worldwide shipment) and he initiated conversion from steam locomotives to diesels ending the company's distinction as the nation's last steam railroad.

From 1963 to 1968, as Chief Executive Officer of the Pennsylvania Railroad, Saunders orchestrated the company's merger (the largest merger in history up to that time) with the New York Central. He then served as chairman and chief executive officer of the resulting Penn Central, the world's largest transportation company. Financial difficulties forced the company into bankruptcy in 1970. Saunders was ousted during restructuring and retired.

Saunders was born in West Virginia, and reared near Bedford, Virginia. He graduated from Roanoke College in 1930 and from Harvard Law School in 1934. He served as chairman of Roanoke's board of trustees, was a trustee of Hollins University, and was a charter trustee of the Virginia Foundation of Independent Colleges, a fundraising entity representing Virginia's private colleges and universities. Saunders, a lawyer, also served as president of the Virginia State Bar from 1951 to 1952.

Under his term, the old, Roman-inspired Pennsylvania Station in New York City was razed to make way for an underground Penn Station, topped with two office buildings and Madison Square Garden. The outcry over the destruction of the ornate structure instigated the landmarks preservation movement.

Saunders, the Railroader of the Year in 1965 and 1966, appeared on the January 26, 1968 cover of Time, and was the Saturday Review Businessman of the Year in 1968.

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Preceded by
Robert Hall Smith
President of Norfolk and Western Railway
1958 – 1963
Succeeded by
Herman H. Pevler
Preceded by
James M. Symes
Chief Executive Officer of Pennsylvania Railroad
1963 – 1968
Penn Central merger
Preceded by
D. William Brosnan (SOU)
Modern Railways magazine
Man of the Year

1965 – 1966
Succeeded by
Louis W. Menk (NP)
New title Chief Executive Officer of Penn Central
1968 – 1970
Succeeded by
Paul A. Gorman