Investment group Ancora Holdings has proposed eight candidates for the board of US railroad Norfolk Southern as it steps up its bid to take control of the company. 

Ancora proposed a new CEO and COO for the company with its nominations as it aims to oust Alan Shaw as head of the railroad following its acquisition of a $1bn stake in the company in plans first reported in January. 

The group said it had made the proposals after “good faith” discussions with Norfolk Southern’s board where it had described Joyce as “unfit” for the role but had seen the company look for the support of regulators and customers ahead of a planned fight against Ancora’s goals. 

A statement said: “The bottom line is that it is time to actually move Norfolk Southern forward. Moving ahead starts with identifying the right destination. 

“Our slate and proposed management team believe they have the experience and strategy required to turn Norfolk Southern into a safer, more sustainable railroad that is growing profitably while also yielding more stability for customers and employees.” 

Ancora’s proposed CEO is Jim Barber, a former executive at logistics company UPS, and Jamie Boychuk, a former executive at railroad company CSX, has been put forward as a potential new COO. 

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In response to the proposals, Norfolk Southern released a lengthy statement defending its performance against Ancora’s description of the company as “the worst Class I railroad”, especially in regard to its response to the derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, and confirming that discussions had taken place on Ancora’s nominations. 

It said: “Norfolk Southern delivered record annual revenue in 2022. Indeed, we delivered our best intermodal service in over three years in fourth quarter 2023 and grew volumes in intermodal, which is our most service-sensitive business, by 5% on a year-over-year basis.” 

“The board regularly evaluates its composition and will continue its careful review of Ancora’s nominees with a focus on advancing our goal of building the safe, reliable, and resilient railroad our customers and shareholders expect.” It added. 

The railroad’s board is set to present its recommendation on Ancora’s nominees in its definitive proxy statement which will be mailed to all shareholders ahead of its, yet to be scheduled, 2024 Annual Meeting.