Farmer, who takes up the role on January 1 2021, will also assume leadership of BNSF’s board of directors. Ice will retire at the end of 2020 and remain on the company’s board.

Farmer, who has held her current role since September 2018, has spent her entire 28 year rail career with BNSF, joining predecessor Burlington Northern as a 22-year-old management trainee in 1992. She has held leadership positions in every major function of the company including operations, marketing and finance. Prior to EVP - operations, Farmer was vice-president (VP) - service design and transportation support, group VP - consumer products, VP - domestic intermodal and VP - industrial products.

Farmer graduated from Texas Christian University’s (TCU) M J Neeley School of Business with a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), and earned an MBA in Finance from TCU.

“I am humbled and honoured to be asked to lead this incredible company and its dedicated employees - men and women that I have worked alongside for almost 30 years,” Farmer says. “We are well-positioned in our approach to safety and meeting our customers’ expectations while having the necessary capacity to grow with our customers. BNSF has long been a cost leader, and we will ensure that continues into the future. I look forward to continuing BNSF’s success.”

Ice has been with BNSF for 42 years. In 1995, he led a team that orchestrated the merger and subsequent integration of Burlington Northern Railroad and Santa Fe Railway. “Since then, he has helped lead the company and culture into what has become the largest Class 1 railroad in North America,” BNSF noted “Ice has been integral to the development of the company’s operating and marketing plans.”

“One of the most important roles of a CEO is to ensure a strong succession plan is in place,” Ice says. “Katie and I have been working toward this plan for a long time. She has held many different roles at BNSF with an ever-increasing impact with each new role as she has built trust and confidence throughout BNSF. I am pleased for Katie and the organisation, knowing BNSF’s future is in good hands. Katie is a shining example of BNSF’s leadership model and BNSF will continue to build upon its legacy.”

“BNSF is an iconic company and this is a historic day,” says Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO, Mr Warren Buffett. “Carl has been critical to BNSF’s success for a very long time. I thank him for his leadership and his accomplishments. We look forward to Katie’s leadership and more success. She possesses all of the qualities that make us excited about the future.”

With her appointment, Farmer will become one of the highest ranking women at Berkshire Hathaway, which in addition to the Class 1 railway includes companies in insurance, utilities, industrial manufacturing, retail and automotive.

Vice president transportation, Mr Matt Igoe, a 22-year BNSF veteran, will succeed Farmer as EVP operations, effective January 1 2021.

The Editor-in-Chief of IRJ’s sister publication, Railway Age,  William C Vantuono, hosted Carl Ice, Katie Farmer and executive vice president and chief marketing officer Steve Bobb on a recent Rail Group On Air Podcast.