CN Rail CEO leaving abruptly, amid backlog

Canadian National Railway has announced the sudden departure of its chief executive officer, as the railway struggles with an escalating backlog of grain and other commodities.

Luc Jobin is “leaving CN effective immediately,” said a statement from the railway’s board of directors on Monday. His exit comes less than two years after he replaced Claude Mongeau.

The board has appointed Jean-Jacques Ruest as interim president and CEO, while launching a search for a new CEO. Ruest has been with CN for twenty-two years, serving as executive vice-president and chief marketing officer for the last eight.

“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 chairman Robert Pace. “Mr. Ruest is well known to customers and investors, and is well positioned to focus the company and its very experienced and proven team of railroaders to rapidly address operational challenges during the transition.”

Situation critical: new rail legislation needed now, say farm groups

While no specific reason was given for Jobin’s departure, the board’s statement refers to “immediate operational and customer service challenges the company has been facing since Fall 2017.”

“The board is confident this remains the right course to restore and retain industry-leading metrics and best in class customer service,” said Pace.

According to weekly data released on Friday by the Ag Transport Coalition — a coalition of grain shippers and farm groups that says it represents 90 percent of prairie grain movement, CN fulfilled only 17 percent of hopper car orders for grain in Western Canada for the second consecutive week.

A chart from the Ag Transport Coalition‘s week 30 report, which the railways dispute, comparing CN’s hopper car performance this year to last year.

 

Kelvin Heppner

Kelvin Heppner is a field editor and radio host for RealAgriculture and RealAg Radio. He's been reporting on agriculture on the prairies and across Canada since 2008(ish). He farms with his family near Altona, Manitoba, and is on Twitter at @realag_kelvin. @realag_kelvin

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