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2024 Shortline Conference: Shawn Smith

Shawn Smith, Chief Transportation Officer, Boundary Trail Railway

With over 40 years of experience in the North American industry, Mr. Shawn I. Smith is a rail business leader and network development consultant.  Specifically, Mr. Smith holds “shared” executive roles with both the Boundary Trail Railway (headquartered in Manitou, Manitoba), and the Northern Plains Railroad (operating in the upper US Midwest with operational interests in Alberta and Saskatchewan).  He also provides general rail business consulting services to a select group of clients including industrial rail operators and economic developers.

In late 2022, Mr. Smith retired from a shared position of President and Chief Operating Officer of the Alberta Midland Railway Terminal and Executive Vice President & Chief Transportation Officer for the Northern Plains Rail Companies, having held these positions since 2013.

From 2006 to 2013, Mr. Smith was a senior leader at Canadian Pacific, serving as General Manager – Strategic Network Development and Interline, where he had responsibility for inter-railway relationships between CP and its short line carriers.  In his roles at CP he was also engaged with and led network capacity and strategic planning efforts, industrial development activities, and strategic development at ports.

Before joining CP, Mr. Smith spent 18 years in the regional / short line industry in both Canada and the United States, first as an operating employee, with later promotions.  In particular, he served as Vice President & General Manager of the Central Western Railway, Canada’s first modern-day short line, and later as President of several lines including those that comprised CN’s feeder network in Northern Alberta. 

Mr. Smith proudly began his career at CN where he has personal historical ties.  He has maintained a lifetime interest in railroading and remains a qualified conductor and track inspector.  He is a current board member of the Boundary Trail Railway and the Alberta Prairie Railway (Stettler, Alberta), and serves on the RAC Short Line Steering Committee. Mr. Smith is a past board member of Port Alberta, the Toronto Terminals Railway Company, the Railway Association of Canada, and the Canadian Association of Railway Suppliers.

Mr. Smith, his wife Karen and their two boys Liam and Adam reside in Camrose, Alberta where they are active in several volunteer pursuits including the preservation of a unique collection of historical railway stations in the region, and a 1935 Anglican church in nearby Viking.  Their days are full as well with Ukrainian dancing, gardening, baseball, football, and hockey activities.