Lance Fritz (left) has been elected CEO of North American rail provider Union Pacific by the company's board of directors. He succeeds John Koralski, who has now become executive chairman.

Fritz is also president and has most recently been serving as COO in addition to that role. He was also elected to the company's board of directors.

"Lance has the right combination of leadership skills, experience and expertise required to lead one of America's largest and most successful companies," said Steven Rogel, Union Pacific's lead independent director. "The board regularly reviews and updates its robust management succession plan, and we are confident Union Pacific will continue to deliver industry-leading customer service and strong shareholder returns under Lance's guidance."

Fritz was executive vice president of operations between 2010 and 2014 and previously served as vice president of labour relations. Prior to that, he was regional vice president, southern region, after serving in the same position for the northern region. He began his career with Union Pacific in marketing and sales as vice president and general manager, energy.

"I am humbled and privileged to have the opportunity to lead Union Pacific," Fritz said. "Our experienced leadership team is unparalleled and will continue to play a key role in shaping Union Pacific's strategy. They join me in sharing all of our employees' passion for our mission to serve customers, shareholders and communities."

Koraleski was appointed president and CEO in March 2012. He joined the railroad in 1972.

"Jack's leadership helped guide Union Pacific to unprecedented financial performance with 12 consecutive quarters of record earnings results," Rogel said. "More importantly, Jack steered Union Pacific through an unexpected and challenging leadership transition period. We are incredibly grateful for his energy, efforts and dedication."