\r\n\u201cHunter was a larger-than-life figure who brought his remarkable passion, experience and energy in railroading to CSX,\u201d the railway says.\r\n \r\n\u201cWith the passing of Hunter Harrison, CSX has suffered a major loss,\u201d says Mr Edward Kelly III, chairman of the CSX Board of Directors. \u201cNotwithstanding that loss, the Board is confident that Jim Foote, as acting Chief Executive Officer, and the rest of the CSX team will capitalise on the changes that Hunter has made. The Board will continue to consider in a deliberative way how best to maximise CSX\u2019s performance over the long term.\u201d\r\n\u201cHarrison was named chief executive officer of CSX in spring 2017 after successfully leading the turnaround of three major railroads over the last 25 years through his Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) model,\u201d CSX says.\r\nPrior to joining CSX Harrison had been president and CEO of Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) since 2012. He also served as president and CEO of Canadian National Railway (CN) from 2003 until 2009 and as the executive vice-president and COO from 1998 until 2002. During his long railway career Harrison also worked for former railways Illinois Central Railroad (IC) and Burlington Northern.\r\nCSX was the latest North American Class 1 freight railway to succumb to the crusade by Harrison and his financial activist backers to spread PSR across the continent, to reduce operating ratios and return better value to shareholders. Harrison perfected scheduled freight train operation at IC, before moving on to CN, and then coming out of retirement to do the same at CP.\r\nHarrison\u2019s model certainly worked as he has managed to improve the financial performance of every railway he ran. CP, for example, achieved a 58.6% operating ratio in 2016, which was a vast improvement over the 81.3% operating ratio recorded in the year preceding Harrison\u2019s appointment as CEO. But PSR comes at a price with aggressive cost cutting and asset stripping.\r\nSpeaking shortly before Harrison\u2019s death, Foote described him as \u201can icon in the industry.\u201d\r\n\u201cI have been following the CSX story very closely since January, but did not realise just how much progress Hunter and CSX\u2019s able team have made replicating the transformation we effected at Canadian National some years ago,\u201d Foote said.\r\n\u201cI believe that the battleship has turned, the PSR framework has been put into place, and the company has amassed the critical talent - through education of the internal team and supplementation with a complement of strong PSR operating veterans and a strongly supportive Board - sufficient to follow through and execute on the PSR operating plan. Because the team has implemented a foundation consistent with Hunter\u2019s vision, I do not see any reason to diminish our expectations concerning the pace and magnitude of our future progress.\u201d\r\nCSX reported third-quarter net earnings of $US 459m on October 17, a 1% increase on the $US 455m recorded for the third quarter of 2016. However, CSX\u2019s share price plunged 10% in opening trading on the New York Stock Exchange when CSX announced that Harrison was on medical leave on December 14.