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March 22, 2017

Carload Traffic Shows Improvement

For the month of December, according to AAR’s Rail Time Indicators, total carloads were 261,010 per week, a 6.7% improvement over the same month in 2016. Coal continues to be a prime driver of total carload trends, with almost all of the growth attributed to that one commodity – up 19.2% February 2016 to February 2017. All other commodities remain up slightly (1.1%) over the same period. The annual total is also up, with 2017’s total of 2,040,613 carloads up 4.8% compared to 2016. Coal is the main reason for the growth for the year, accounting for a 15.5 percent jump over the first two months of 2016. Intermodal shipments have leveled off, with a February to February growth of 1.8%. Outside of coal’s significant growth, crushed stone saw the biggest jump of all commodity groups, with a 13.1% rise between February 2016 and February 2017. Grain, waste and iron/steel scrap are among the commodities that have seen slight growth this year. On the other end of the spectrum, petroleum saw a carload drop of 12% in February 2017 compared with February 2016.

Register Today for 2017 CONNECTIONS!

In a recent Member Survey, Education and Training were identified as valuable offerings provided by the Association and a top priority for our members. The 2017 CONNECTIONS Convention will feature nine targeted education tracks and more than 35 outstanding breakout sessions. Education Super Sessions will provide two hours of in-depth, interactive, and essential industry education. From Internal Rail Flaw Testing and Rail Wear to Railcar Health and Inspection, from Maintenance, Monitoring and Movement of Locomotives to How to Write Relevant and Legally Compliant Job Descriptions, you won’t want to miss out - Register today!

Plenty of Options for Suppliers at 2017 CONNECTIONS!

ASLRRA members looking to make an impression at our CONNECTIONS convention have plenty of options. They include purchasing one of our few remaining booths, sponsoring an event or function, or providing general sponsorship support. Sponsorships still available include registration desk, Monday coffee break, speaker gifts, exhibit hall aisle signs and golf tees. Contact ASLRRA's Kathy Keeney at 202-585-3439 for more information. 

Legislative Update

BRACE Act Gains Momentum in Senate and House

So far, we have secured 26 Co-sponsors for the BRACE Act in the Senate (S. 407), and 150 Co-sponsors in the House (H.R. 721). Railroad Day was instrumental in this swell of co-sponsorships, and this is one of the fastest ever upticks for 45G legislation, once again confirming the bi-partisan support for this issue. If you met with a Member at Railroad Day and they have not yet co-sponsored, now is the time to follow-up with their staff as there are only three weeks remaining before Congress leaves for its Easter recess. For handouts, maps or other materials, please contact our Washington team member Fred Oelsner. Reach out to your representatives today!

ASCE Study Says Freight Rail Earns a “B” 

Freight Rail transportation has earned a B on the ASCE 2017 Infrastructure Report Card. "The private freight-rail industry owns the vast majority of the nation's rail infrastructure, and continues to make significant capital investment — $27.1 billion in 2015 — to ensure the network's good condition," the report stated. "U.S. rail still faces clear challenges, most notably in passenger rail, which faces the dual problems of aging infrastructure and insufficient funding." Read the Rail Section of the report card!

Trump Budget Proposes to Eliminate TIGER Grants

The President’s proposed budget calls for eliminating the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) discretionary grant program; terminating federal support for Amtrak's long-distance service; and limiting funding for the Federal Transit Administration's Capital Investment Program (New Starts) to projects with existing full funding grant agreements only. ALSRRA will follow the budget process through Congress and communicate on behalf of short lines the importance of railroad infrastructure investment. 

National Small Business Association Seeks Leaders from Small Businesses for Leadership Council

The National Small Business Association (NSBA) is seeking leaders from the small business community to become part of NSBA's Leadership Council. Persons with experience in leadership and in dealing with the media are invited to consider joining the Council to represent the small-business community before lawmakers and members of the media. NSBA has developed a survey containing more information.  Please click here to take the survey, so that NSBA can review and respond to you soon.

Regulatory Update

NTSB Chairman Hart Steps Down as Dinh-Zarr Begins Tenure as Acting Chair

Christopher Hart's term as chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has concluded as scheduled. Vice Chairman Bella Dinh-Zarr was tapped to serve as acting chairman. Hart will remain as a board member. Hart's tenure as the NTSB's 13th chairman began in March 2015, after President Barack Obama nominated him in January of that year. Dinh-Zarr began her tenure as vice chairman in March 2015. The NTSB is composed of five members, each nominated by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve five-year terms. By law, a board member is designated by the president as chairman and another as vice chairman for two-year terms.

VanderClute to Chair Operation Lifesaver

Bonnie Murphy, president and CEO of Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI), has announced that OLI’s board of directors has elected Robert C. VanderClute as chair, following the recent resignation of previous OLI board chair William “Bill” Barringer. Please read the press release. OLI board Vice Chair, ASLRRA’s Jo Strang, and OLI Secretary Treasurer, BNSF’s Steven Neubauer, will continue their terms.

Progress Report Indicates Aggressive Effort Needed to Meet PTC Deadline

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has released a status update on railroads’ progress implementing positive train control (PTC) systems in the fourth quarter of 2016, demonstrating that freight railroads continue to make consistent progress. Freight railroads’ percentage of locomotives fully equipped with PTC technology rose to 42 percent, up from 38 percent. A thorough, interactive summary of railroad-by-railroad implementation data can be viewed by clicking here

(RESPONSE) Subcommittee Seeks Members from the Rail Industry

The RESPONSE Act of 2016 (Public Law 114-321) requires that a Railroad Emergency Services Preparedness, Operational Needs, and Safety Evaluation RESPONSE Subcommittee, established by FEMA, be composed of federal officials as well as others with technical knowledge and expertise from the rail industry. The Application Deadline is Monday, April 3, 2017. If you have any questions please contact FEMA’s Lisa Lofton.

Kansas City Southern Discusses Mexican Commission’s Conclusion on Competition

Kansas City Southern (KCS) has issued a statement opposing the Mexican Economic Competition Commission's conclusion that competition is lacking in certain areas of the freight-rail market in Mexico. KCS was reacting to the commission's preliminary report on effective competition in the market for interconnection services, trackage and switching rights used to provide freight-rail services in Mexico.

Comparison of Railroad Retirement and Social Security Benefits

The U.S. Railroad Retirement Board comparison of benefits indicates that while employers and employees covered by the Railroad Retirement Act pay higher retirement taxes than those covered by the Social Security Act, the resulting railroad retirement benefits remain higher than social security benefits, especially for “career” employees who have 30 or more years of service. Read more at rrb.gov.

Member News

Batory Retires; Tierney Takes the Reins at Conrail

ASLRRA member Consolidated Rail Corporation’s (Conrail’s) board of directors has named Timothy Tierney president and chief operating officer, effective April 1. Tierney succeeds Ronald Batory, who is retiring after nearly 46 years in the railroad industry. Batory joined Conrail in 1998 as vice president - operations, and was appointed president and chief operating officer in 2004. Prior to Conrail, Batory served as president of ASLRRA member The Belt Railway Company of Chicago. 

Safety Milestone Celebrated by Northern Plains Railroad

ASLRRA member Northern Plains Railroad (NPR) proudly celebrated a remarkable safety milestone on March 5th,  with the company’s transportation department achieving 3000 days without a Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)-classed personal injury. “To be FRA injury free for well over eight years is a significant accomplishment that takes discipline, a personal appreciation for the value of safety, and compliance with our formal safety programs” remarked Jesse J. Chalich, President of NPR. NPR safely operates a 350 route mile regional railroad in western Minnesota and North Dakota, providing high-quality, responsive rail services to its customers - and is celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year. 

Jacksonville Port Terminal Railroad (JXPT) Set to Begin Operations

The Jacksonville Port Terminal Railroad (JXPT), a subsidiary of Watco Transportation Services LLC, has reached a definitive agreement with the Jacksonville Port Authority (JAXPORT) to lease and operate 10 miles of rail line in Jacksonville, FL.  Watco announced that JXPT is its 37th short line and its first railroad in Florida. The railroad interchanges with Norfolk Southern Railway and CSX. Currently, four customers are being served by rail at the port. 

StratoMAX F-Knuckle (F51AE) Meets AAR M-216 Fatigue Life Specification

ASLRRA Associate Business Member Strato, Inc. is pleased to announce that its F-Style knuckle has passed the Association of American Railroads (AAR) M-216 fatigue life cycle test.  This specification requires an average fatigue life of at least 600,000 cycles.  “The addition of our M-216 F-knuckle to the StratoMAX product line supports our commitment to provide a superior coupler system that the longer, faster trains in service need today,” says Mike Foxx, President and CEO.  

BROWZ to offer Webinars and Training

ASLRRA Associate Business Member BROWZ, a provider of contractor management services and compliance solutions, announced the launch of a new SaaS based solution to assist short line railroads and their contractors to become compliant and maintain their compliance with new FRA Part 219 requirements, which will be enforced starting June 12, 2017. The BROWZ ShortLine Connection simplifies the process of managing Regulated Service contractors. For more information, please click here.  

Railworks Track Services Completes Fertilizer Plant Project

RailWorks has announced the completion of a 15 month track construction project at a new Iowa Fertilizer plant on about 320 acres in southeastern Iowa. ASLRRA Associate Business Member RailWorks Track Services was responsible for jobsite preparation and grading, and all track construction. RailWorks crews from three different cities joined forces to construct 42,000 linear feet of jointed rail, including arrival, departure and storage tracks. They installed more than 21,000 steel ties, and their work also featured 26 turnouts and a wye track connecting to the BNSF’s mainline. 

NRE Awarded Contract to Overhaul Transit Locomotives

ASLRRA Associate Business Member NRE has announced that the State of Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) has awarded the company a contract to overhaul 6 GP40-2H locomotives. The locomotives, part of the transit system for the State of Connecticut, were originally built in the 1970's and will be "renewed" by NRE for another life cycle of successful passenger service. “We are very proud to have been awarded this contract,” said Steven L. Beal, President and CEO of NRE. One of the key factors in CTDOT’s decision to award the 5 year contract to NRE is that NRE will produce over 90% of the locomotive content in house. For more information about NRE locomotives or the CTDOT contract, please contact Brandon Bullard at 618-559-4867.

Norfolk Southern and OAR Announce “Safety Train” HazMat Safety Training Locations and Dates

Norfolk Southern Railway's safety train will stop in 23 cites this year as part of the Class I's Operation Awareness and Response (OAR) program to provide first responders with free training on how to respond to a railroad accident. These trainings are open to railroad customers and suppliers, as well as local emergency response personnel. Stops will be made in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia and South Carolina. A complete schedule of the 2017 visits is available at the OAR program website, JoinNSOAR.com.

ASLRRA Welcomes Eight New Members

AMS Services, LLC, based in Hernando, MS, provides quality construction, derailment, hauling,  transportation, and emergency services, 24/7. President Mark Duke is our primary contact and can be  reached on (662) 449-2672. Please look for them at next month’s  ASLRRA CONNECTIONS convention in Grapevine, TX.

Associated Rail Products, LLC, based in Maryville, TN, was developed as a vehicle to supply various  steel products associated with maintenance and track construction. All of its products are forged,  rolled and manufactured in the USA. Tony Chambers, the company’s owner, is our primary contact  and can be reached on (844) 205-1219. Many thanks to  Danella’s Steve Bolte for the help with this new membership. Please look for them in booth #241 at  next month’s ASLRRA CONNECTIONS convention in Grapevine, TX.

B&P Enterprises, Inc., based in Southaven, MS, provides railroad construction/derailment cleanup  and environmental remediation services. Our primary contact is COO Josh Prewett, who can be  reached on (662) 781-2780. Please look for them in booth #236 at next month’s  ASLRRA CONNECTIONS convention in Grapevine, TX.

Envirosave Enterprises LLC, based in Cape Coral, FL, is the exclusive manufacturer of Gamma88  and E3Ultra, fuel and oil conditioners that improve fuel efficiency, decrease maintenance and virtually  eliminate engine carbon buildup that can cause right-of-way fires. Our main contact is Vice President  Dan Justice who can be reached at (239) 458-0310. Many thanks  to our friends at Watco for suggesting they join ASLRRA. Please look for Envirosave in booth #240 at  next month’s ASLRRA CONNECTIONS convention in Grapevine, TX.

iNEMSOFT, Inc., headquartered in Frisco, TX, designs customer-driven software for radio dispatch  and mission-critical communications and its technology supports one of the world’s largest converged  voice, data and radio networks. Our primary contact is President & CEO Allen Nemer, who can be  reached on (214) 423-2820. Many thanks to our friends at BNSF  Railway for recommending they join our association. Please look for them in booth #807 at next  month’s ASLRRA CONNECTIONS convention in Grapevine, TX.

LRL Construction Co., based in Tillamook, OR, specializes in Shotcrete, tunnel reconstruction, soil  stabilization, rock fall mitigation and rock bolting. Please look for them in booth #233 at next month’s  ASLRRA CONNECTIONS convention in Grapevine, TX. Mary Schmitz is our primary contact and can  be reached at (503) 842-5520.

Rail Simulations Inc., based in Barrie, ON, is a turnkey solutions provider of railroad training services,  with emphasis on locomotive training simulations, computer-based training, and classroom training.  Our primary contact is Jason Dilworth, vice president-operations, who can be reached on  (902) 802-7600. Please look for them in booth #1006 at next  month’s ASLRRA CONNECTIONS convention in Grapevine, TX.

Seaview Transportation Co., Inc., based in North Kingstown, RI, provides railroad switching services. Our primary contact is President Eric Moffett . He can be reached at (401) 295-1233. Many thanks to the Providence & Worcester Railroad for the assist with this new membership.

ASLRRA's Upcoming Webinars

How to Build a Successful Safety Committee
Join us Thursday, March 23 at 2:00pm - 3:00pm EST as JR Sampson, Short Line Safety Institute Lead Safety Culture Assessor, reviews how to structure a safety committee, conduct meetings and communicate the committee’s findings and initiatives to your company. Creating a safety committee is a crucial first step to getting your railroad on the track to safety. Sponsored by the Short Line Safety Institute.

HR Series, Part I: Eligibility for Leave Determinations

On Friday, March 24 at 11:00am - 12:00pm EST join ASLRRA Human Resources Committee members Erica Barnard, PHR, and Lise Ann Ebert, MSL SPHR, for Part 1 of a four-part series covering important HR topics. You won't want to miss this in-depth discussion of the eligibility requirements for various leave determinations, including an analysis of the role your policies play in conjunction with applicable state and federal laws. Presenters will also discuss the benefits and liabilities of outsourcing leave management.  
 

Contractor Screening - Considerations for Every Employer

While most short lines do an excellent job of screening potential employees, frequently contractors and subcontractors are overlooked in the hiring process. Failure to properly screen these people represents a huge potential liability for your company. On Tuesday, March 28 from 1:00pm - 2:00pm EST spend an hour with ASLRRA associate business member eVerifile discussing risks and liabilities, Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), co-employment and drug testing. 

ASLRRA 2017 CONNECTIONS is April 22-25, 2017 

 

Views & News is published by the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association. Please contact Elizabeth Sands, Editor,  with any questions or comments.