Union Pacific said Friday that chief executive Jim Young will take a medical leave of absence to be treated for pancreatic cancer. He will remain chairman of the railroad's board while on leave.
Young, 59, was elected CEO and president of the nation's largest railroad in 2006 and became chairman the following year.
John Koraleski, Union Pacific's executive vice president for marketing and sales, will serve as acting president and CEO until Young returns.
Koraleski joined the company in 1972 and has held a number of executive positions including executive vice president for finance and chief financial officer of Union Pacific Railroad.
Union Pacific board member Steven Rogel said he is sure that Koraleski and the rest of the railroad's executive team will be able to lead the Omaha-based company well during Young's absence.
"We are confident that our company will continue to provide great service to our customers while meeting the financial and safety objectives we have set for ourselves and our shareholders expect," said Rogel, who is the lead independent director on Union Pacific's board.
Koraleski said the railroad's 45,000 employees are supporting Young during his treatment, and they remain committed to delivering strong results.
Last year Union Pacific reported net income of $3.29 billion, or $6.72 per share. That was up from $2.78 billion, or $5.53 per share, in 2010. Annual revenue grew 15 percent in 2011 to $19.56 billion from the previous year's $16.97 billion.
Union Pacific officials have predicted that the railroad's revenue will continue to grow in 2012 along with the economy. UP predicts strong growth in the amount of petroleum products, vehicles and lumber it carries this year, as auto sales, housing construction and the nation's gross domestic product continue to improve.
Union Pacific is the nation's largest railroad with more than 32,400 miles of track in 23 states between the West, the Midwest and the Gulf Coast.
Union Pacific shares rose 1 cent to $111.54 in morning trading.
Union Pacific Corp.: www.up.com