Schnautz joined Norfolk Southern in 1993 as a management trainee in the engineering department. He progressed through a variety of engineering positions and most recently was director advanced train control until his appointment to his present position.
Thelen began his railroad career as manager quality control materials for Conrail in 1977. He held several positions of increasing responsibility in mechanical engineering, quality assurance and engineering, before joining NS in 1998 as assistant vice president of research and tests. He became vice president of mechanical in 2004 and vice president of operations planning and support in 2006.
"Gerhard has been an invaluable intellectual asset to NS and we will miss his leadership in addressing the technical challenges of 21st century railroading," said Mark Manion, executive vice president and chief operating officer. "Fortunately, Tom, who has been leading our effort to comply with Congress' PTC mandate, has the knowledge, experience and wisdom to take up that mantle."