Views & News - January 17, 2024

Views & News


Issue Highlights:

Regulatory – FRA makes emissions calculation tool available with additional resources

Legislative – ASLRRA to monitor upcoming House hearings

New Members – ASLRRA welcomes Dalko Resources, Fascan International and Heuristic Actions

Announcements – Goose Lake Railway's Quinton Swank featured in scholarship profile

ASLRRA Annual Conference – STB Chair Oberman is newest General Session featured speaker

Out and About – Jo Strang and EPA representatives visit ASLRRA member

Industry News – LRW to host symposium in March



Short Line Notable News

In this new section, we will showcase short line industry stories published in local media. Click a link to view the stories online.

Good Neighbor Program Reaches Millions of Community Members Across OmniTRAX Rail Network

Railroad members! If you want to be featured in this section, please email us the link. You can also tag us (@ASLRRA) in your social media posts. Interested in seeing your railroad showcased in your local newspaper? Contact Amy Krouse for assistance.

ASLRRA Welcomes New Eastern Region Board Member

ASLRRA congratulates Lake State Railway Company (LSRC) Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Michael Stickel on his election to ASLRRA’s Eastern Region Board.

Stickel takes the place of Livonia, Avon and Lakeville Railroad President and CEO Robert Babcock, whose election as ASLRRA Eastern Region board vice president resulted in a vacant position.

Stickel has worked at LSRC for ten years. As executive vice president and COO he is responsible for the railroad’s marketing, mechanical and transportation departments. Prior to joining LRSC, Stickel worked at Watco and The Indiana Rail Road Company.

“The short line railroad sector is a critical cog in our nation’s economic engine, capable of safely helping solve energy, environmental, and capacity issues in our supply chain. It is more important now than ever before to have a strong, unified narrative that educates stakeholders on the benefits that our companies provide for the public and what negative impacts and unintended consequences of regulations will do to supply chain security,” said Stickel in a written statement. “As a 20-year railroader with experience at independent short lines and a major holding company, I relate to our membership’s issues and concerns and am excited to go to work advocating for our industry.”





Tool From FRA Helps Railroads Calculate Emission Reductions for Engine Projects

To help railroads use its locomotive emissions comparison tool (LECT), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has published a user guide and an emissions data documentation file.

The LECT is meant to provide a standardized approach to help users estimate emission reductions gained through the implementation of FRA-funded projects. According to the FRA, this includes estimations for locomotive replacement projects being considered for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program and other discretionary grant funding.

ASLRRA’s Richard Sherman notes this tool is particularly useful for railroads looking to win CRISI grant funding for locomotive projects. The tool is designed to simplify the benefit-cost analysis (BCA) portion of the grant application process, so that railroads do not have to create a custom spreadsheet to calculate differences in fuel consumption and emissions.

The FRA is expected to release the notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) for the CRISI grant program soon. ASLRRA members looking to compete for the anticipated $2.4 billion to be made available in the upcoming round of CRISI funding should begin preparing applications materials if they have not done so already. ASLRRA’s CRISI Grant Application Information webpage includes helpful information for members looking to prepare for the NOFO release.



ASLRRA Government Team to Monitor Two House Hearings This Week

The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure will hold a hearing on the state of transportation today and a hearing on railroad grade crossing elimination and safety on Thursday.

Today’s hearing is expected to cover a broad range of transportation topics, with witnesses from such sectors as ports, third-party logistics and the construction industry. While Association staff will be monitoring this hearing for any news relevant to railroads in general and short lines in particular, ASLRRA will be watching tomorrow’s hearing more closely.

The Association will submit a statement for the record on grade crossing safety, although ASLRRA will not participate directly in the hearing. The witness list for the grade crossing hearing includes Federal Railroad Administrator Amit Bose, National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy, Association of American Railroads President and CEO Ian Jefferies and Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Michael Smith.


Congress Looks to Pass Third Continuing Resolution Before Friday Deadline

Despite coming to agreement on a deal dictating overall limits for defense and non-defense spending, Congress still needs to pass a third continuing resolution (CR) to avoid a lapse in funding for the first group of agencies for which appropriations bills are due Jan. 19.

The Senate Appropriations Committee released text of a new CR on Jan. 14, with work on a vote expected this week. The CR follows the same tiered plan as the one currently in effect. Appropriations bills for four agencies, including transportation, housing and urban development, are due March 1, while the eight remaining appropriations bills are due March 8.


ASLRRA scholarships ad


New Members


Know a company that would benefit from joining and participating in ASLRRA? Please contact ASLRRA’s Senior Vice President of Membership and Business Development Kathy Keeney via email or on (202) 585-3439.


ASLRRA Welcomes Three New Associate Members

Dalko Resources Inc., based in Sharpsville, Pennsylvania, is a worldwide logistics services provider with over 75 years’ experience in the transportation industry with special emphasis in rail. Dalko can assist with freight transportation, supply chain, warehousing and distribution, customer service, or customs brokerage. It operates its own cross-border and logistics center in Laredo, Texas, which allows it to provide safe, reliable, economical and customized international services for clients and partners. SVP-Revenue Jared Grandy is our primary contact and can be reached on (866) 707-4286. Learn more about Dalko by visiting Booth #322 in the Expo Hall at our March annual conference in Kansas City.


Fascan International (Fassi), based in Baltimore, Maryland, is a family owned crane provider with an emphasis on sales, parts and customer service. The 30-year-old company is the exclusive U.S. distributor for the Fassi Articulated Crane, Jekko Mini-Crane, and the Alma Crawler. National Railroad Specialist Tim Harkins is our primary contact and can be reached on (678) 314-4310.








Heuristic Actions, Inc., based in Mt. Charleston, Nevada, has engineered and developed an advanced rail bridge assessment and monitoring solution. Its patented wireless electronic structural monitoring system called Bellwether is a robust, cost-effective platform for inventory management, data collection, and analytics. Continuous monitoring with Bellwether delivers near real-time alerts for impacts, trains, seismic events, fires and sudden changes due to scour, collisions, or earthquakes. Our primary contact is President & CEO Jim Lochry, who can be reached on (702) 524-7592. Learn more about them by visiting Booth #302 in the Expo Hall at our March Annual Conference And Exhibition in Kansas City.



Multiple Benefits of ASLRRA Scholarship Speak to Multiple Responsibilities of Short Line Railroaders

Goose Lake Railway General Manager Quinton Swank is very familiar with the many aspects of running a railroad; as an employee of a small Class III he has a hand in nearly all the day-to-day tasks required to ensure smooth, safe operations. Learning more about those daily operations means pursuing quality training opportunities, and an ASLRRA Golden Scholarship enabled Swank to do exactly that.

With a $1,200 Golden Scholarship to help offset registration, lodging and travel costs, Swank could attend ASLRRA’s Leadership Development Training – Regulatory Module, something he feels “would have been very hard” for his company to manage otherwise. Beyond the clear financial benefits of receiving a scholarship, Swank was able to deepen his understanding of federal railroad regulations and leadership skills, bringing his newfound knowledge back to his fellow employees at Goose Lake Railway.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the training and learned a lot,” wrote Swank in an email interview. “Upon returning home I was able to brief my team and share all I had learned. This provided us the opportunity to learn and grow as a team while strengthening our safety culture.”

Swank added that the financial and educational benefits were not the only positive outcomes of attending the training – he also was able to strengthen his network of industry professionals, which will only further help him “elevate and excel.”

For someone like Swank, who performs mechanic duties, orders supplies, does human resources work, manages operations, rules and regulation compliance and more, the Golden Scholarship provides training support for the multiple hats Swank and other short line railroaders must wear.


Complete FRA Forms to Ensure Eligibility for ASLRRA’s Jake Safety Awards

Each year ASLRRA honors short line railroad and switching members with exemplary safety records by bestowing Jake, Jake with Distinction and President’s Awards. However, to be eligible for these awards, railroad and switching members must first complete the required FRA accident/incident reports for every month of the previous year.

All members must be current on their 2023 report filings by Feb. 29. For more information, please visit ASLRRA’s safety awards page and see the “Performance-based Safety Awards” section. Included there is a link to the required Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Form F 6180.55, the Railroad Injury and Illness Summary. Those with further questions can contact ASLRRA’s Fred Oelsner.


ASLRRA Drug and Alcohol Training Seminar Scheduled for April, Scholarships Available for Eligible Employees

The first ASLRRA Training Seminar scheduled for 2024 will be the popular Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Part 219 Drug and Alcohol Training, which will be held April 23 to 25 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The seminar provides an in-depth review of Part 219 covering all sections of the rule and requirements for railroads and contractors, including discussion of inclusion of certain mechanical employees to federal testing. Another integral part of the seminar is the interactive discussion of rule requirements and practices, with subject-matter experts on hand to address all attendee questions. 

FRA Drug and Alcohol Program Specialist Sam Noe has announced plans to retire in 2024 and this will likely be his final in-person training seminar. The Association expects seats to fill quickly and attendees are encouraged to register as soon as possible.

Employees of small railroads earning less than $10 million in annual revenue are eligible for an ASLRRA Scholarship to offset training registration costs and travel and lodging expenses. The scholarship application process requires completion of a simple online form. Click here to apply for a $1,200 Golden Scholarship or click here to apply for a $425 Jake Jacobson Scholarship. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and can be applied retroactively to a previously attended training session.


Reduce Risk, Control Costs and Streamline Your Supply Chain With Würth

Würth is ASLRRA’s Preferred Provider of personal protective equipment (PPE) and related services and their customer-first approach to service and support has a long history. Since opening their doors, Würth has helped thousands of companies protect their employees and work with optimum efficiency for maximum output. Their team of railroad specialists currently supports nearly 200 short line railroads, rail industry contractors and Class I railroad companies.

ASLRRA members can depend on Würth for quality safety and industrial products and exceptional customer service, plus discounted pricing on a huge assortment of products and equipment needed to implement an effective and efficient safety program. Offerings include foot and leg protection, signs, ergonomic products, hearing and eye protection, clothing protection, lighting and electrical products, storage containment and environmental spill cleanup, traffic control and much more.

Visit the Association’s Member Discount Program page to view Würth’s complete product offering and suite of services and start saving today.


ASLRRA Industry Awards Nominations Ad


ASLRRA Annual Conference

STB Chair Joins List of General Session Featured Speakers

Surface Transportation Board (STB) Chairman Martin Oberman is the newest featured speaker to join the General Session lineup at ASLRRA’s 2024 Annual Conference and Exhibition, which takes place March 24 to 26 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Oberman will join STB Member Patrick Fuchs for an STB fireside chat. The other featured speaker is CPKC President and CEO Keith Creel, who will share thoughts on the rail industry.

The 2024 conference will provide nearly 50 hours of education sessions in 12 different tracks, with session titles and descriptions now available for viewing online. Attendees will be able to choose from a wide variety of rail-industry topics including grants management, emissions reduction, renewable fuels, oral fluid testing, cybersecurity and more. Click here to register for the conference.

Award Nominations, Hotel Rooms, Sponsorships and Expo Hall Booths

Nominations are due Feb. 9 for all of ASLRRA’s annual awards: the Veterans Engagement Award,  Business Development Award, Environmental Award, Safety Person of the Year Award and Safety Professional of the Year Award. Follow each of the links to learn about the awards and access online nomination forms.

Rooms are still available at the Loews Kansas City hotel, but reservations are filling quickly and could sell out before the official cutoff date on March 8. Please be careful to avoid hotel poachers when securing a room for the conference. Be sure to use the hotel phone number and link to hotel website on the ASLRRA Hotel Information page when making hotel reservations.

ASLRRA members can still purchase a sponsorship or reserve a booth in the conference Expo Hall. Click here to learn about the different types of sponsorship opportunities available, or click here to learn about exhibit booths. For more information about either, contact ASLRRA’s Kathy Keeney via email or by phone at (202) 585-3439.


ASLRRA 2024 Conference

Register Now Agenda Book Your Room


Out and About

Staff Shorts – Who’s Where in the Rail Industry World

Jo Strang (far right) visited member Adrian and Blissfield Rail Road Company in Michigan with representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help them learn about short line operations, especially relating to locomotives and emissions.

Joining the group were Sean Strong of Watco, Joe Bentrup of the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis and Roger Fuehring of Lake State Railway Company. Strong is chair of ASLRRA’s Environmental Committee, Bentrup is chair of the Mechanical Committee and Fuehring is a member of both. Adrian and Blissfield President and CEO Chris Bagwell was the event host.



On-Demand Webinars

View ASLRRA's Series on FRA Part 243

Railroad safety and operations professionals will want to check out ASLRRA’s three-part webinar series on FRA Part 243 training rules, presented by Mitch Harris of Rio Grande Pacific Corporation, Katie Inouye of Spark TS and ASLRRA’s JR Gelnar. Look for the following titles:

  • FRA Part 243: Part 1 – Initial Training Requirements 
  • FRA Part 243: Part 2 – Requirements for Compliance 
  • FRA Part 243: Part 3 – Discussion and Q&A 

Visit ASLRRA’s webinar homepage to view these on-demand offerings and many more in the Association’s webinar library.


Click here to learn more about our education offerings.


Industry News and Events

March 26: LRW to Hold Regional Symposium in Kansas City

The League of Railway Women (LRW) will host its LRW Symposium on March 26 at the Kansas City Convention Center. The event will include educational sessions, networking opportunities and lunch with other organization members. More information, including registration details, will be available soon.


Click here for a calendar of industry events.

Views & News is published by American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association.
Please contact Mariel Takamura, associate editor, with questions or comments.