James Young will take over as president & CEO of Omaha, NE-based railroad giant Union Pacific Corp. starting Jan. 1, 2006, as Dick Davidson, the company’s current chairman, president & CEO transitions into the solo role of chairman.

Young, 53, joined Union Pacific in 1978 in the finance department. He has held holding numerous positions at the company, culminating in his promotion to executive vp & CFO in 1999, as well as taking the reins as president & COO of the railroad portion of UP in 2004.

The transition comes at a high point of sorts for UP in terms of revenue growth and profitability. The railroad posted profits of $251 million on 13% higher revenues of $3.5 billion in the third quarter this year compared to the same period in 2004 – along with the positive addition of a $118 million tax benefit to its bottom line.

On top of that, total commodity revenue reached best-ever levels in the third quarter, reflecting a 1% growth in total carloads to a record 2.4 million loads, along with yield improvements and fuel cost recovery under UP’s fuel surcharge programs.

Noteworthy for trucking companies, UP’s intermodal freight volumes rose substantially over the third quarter – climbing 13%, compared to chemical shipments (up just 9%) and automotive freight (4%), though agricultural shipments (up 27%) and industrial products (up 16%) are still the leading segments within UP’s cargo matrix.