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Vanessa KnaptonSenior Vice President, Sales and Marketing Field Services Division, Cathcart Rail

Vanessa Knapton works for the largest independent railcar repair network in the US. She oversees the business development for Cathcart’s Field Services Division, where her teams function as car departments for short line railroads.  With over 50 partnerships to maintain, Knapton functions as the liaison between host railroads and the repair operating teams.

Knapton started in the railroad industry as a switchman-conductor for the Santa Fe (later BNSF) in Los Angeles, California in 1994. She had graduated from Smith College with a bachelor’s degree in government and economics. Knapton worked for four years as a union operations employee and had her first two children. In 1998, Knapton was promoted to Assistant Trainmaster at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

As Trainmaster, Knapton helped design the operations systems at BNSF for the massive influx of container business in the first international intermodal boom from 2000 to its height in 2006. During her tenure as trainmaster, Knapton completed an MBA program with an emphasis on finance at Chapman University and had her third child.

Knapton and BNSF parted ways in 2008 and Knapton worked in warehouse logistics and for a railroad shipper until she joined an early entrant in a niche market of the short line railroad railcar repair business in 2011. For the last dozen years, Knapton has worked for three of the largest running repair agent companies in the country and has established 25+ repair operations at railroads that previously did not have car inspection teams.

Vanessa Knapton