Views & News - March 13, 2024

Views & News


Issue Highlights:

Regulatory – FRA report discusses external detection technology

Legislative – President Biden signs FY24 spending bills, releases FY25 budget proposal

New Members – ASLRRA welcomes eight new members

Annual Conference Two technical trailers to be featured in sold-out exhibit hall

Grants & Funding – MARAD publishes port infrastructure grant NOFO

Industry News – NDASA dates listed for training events, annual conference


ASLRRA 2024 Conference

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Short Line Notable News

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



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.

Baker Discusses Short Line Federal Grant Impact at House Hearing

ASLRRA President Chuck Baker had the opportunity to discuss the impact of federal infrastructure grants on short line railroads during last Thursday’s hearing, as the full House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee met to discuss U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) discretionary grants.

A number of members asked questions of the four witnesses present: Baker, Amy O’Leary, executive director of the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments; Jared Perdue, Florida Department of Transportation secretary; and Alan Winders, presiding commissioner of Audrain County, Missouri.

As the sole non-government witness at the hearing, Baker afforded the committee members insight into how small businesses like short line railroads navigate the USDOT grant process. Baker praised the level of funding that has been made available for railroads, primarily through the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant program, and recommended this program be focused on freight rail. He also complimented the team at the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for their work supporting potential applicants and aiding them with the grant process.

Still, Baker offered suggestions for improving the grant process, including making it more streamlined and user-friendly. Baker also said that having guaranteed funds for programs like CRISI is crucial for helping short lines anticipate funding opportunities and plan projects over the long term.

Regarding appropriations, Baker urged Congress to provide the full authorized amount for CRISI in any spending bill, a timely discussion as lawmakers will begin considering spending legislation for fiscal year 2025 in the coming weeks and a long-term surface transportation bill in the next Congress.

A recording of the full hearing is available on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee website, where a copy of Baker’s written witness testimony is also available. ASLRRA also prepared a press release concerning the event, which is available here.


Reminder: Golf Registration Closes March 15

Registration will close this Friday, March 15 for the golf tournament at ASLRRA’s Annual Conference.

Over 190 people are signed up to play at the Paradise Pointe Golf Complex on March 26. The shotgun start is 1:30 p.m., after the day’s education sessions are complete, and the tournament ends in time for participants to get dinner before the Association’s Tuesday night closing party.

Those who have already registered can still add golf and golf club rentals to their ticket, while those needing to register can do so in one transaction.



FRA Report Shares Result of Efforts to Develop an Object Perception System for Train Operators

A technical report from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) discusses work by Aurora Flight Sciences to develop the External Perception for Locomotives (ExP-L) system that would help identify objects of interest in and around the track and convey that information to the operator.

Researchers conducted three demonstrations showing the system’s ability to identify objects of interest, such as vehicles, crossings and mile markers; note the state of these objects, such as whether vehicles were on the tracks; and use a heads-up display to communicate urgent, actionable information.

The report recommends additional research with this type of system on an operational train in outdoor environments. Still, according to the report, the results of this project are “an important first step toward perceptual enhancements in the cab to improve safety on our nations’ railways.”


Irwin Car Paid Sponsorship

Thanks to Irwin Car and Equipment for sponsoring this week's edition of Views & News



Congress Passes Spending Bills and Biden Administration Releases Fiscal Year 2025 Budget Proposal

President Joe Biden signed a six-bill spending package on March 9 that would fund the U.S. Department of Transportation and several other agencies through the rest of Fiscal Year 2024. The Senate passed the bills the day before, narrowly avoiding a partial government shutdown that would have begun at midnight.

In addition to funding Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, the package included spending bills for Agriculture; Commerce, Justice and Science; Energy and Water; Interior and Environment; and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. Congress has a deadline of March 22 to fund the rest of the federal government.

Then on March 11, Biden unveiled his fiscal year 2025 (FY25) budget proposal. While this budget proposal serves essentially as a list of non-binding recommendations to Congress, it is a window into the administration’s priorities. Biden’s request includes $109.3 billion for the Department of Transportation (USDOT), which Secretary Pete Buttigieg discussed in a statement highlighting, among other things, $3.2 billion for the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

An overview of the FY25 USDOT budget proposal discusses FRA funding in more depth. The FRA section, which starts on page 48, notes a $250 million request for Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grants in addition to the $1 billion guaranteed for the program through the infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). Also included in the proposed budget is increased funding for safety and operations, particularly the Automated Track Inspection Program (ATIP) and Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS), and funding for FRA research and development that includes a pilot program to establish a zero-emission rail yard.


ASLRRA Team Continues Advocacy Efforts in Washington, D.C.

ASLRRA’s legislative team has been keeping a busy schedule on Capitol Hill, meeting with members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to garner support for short line priorities including passage of the Short Line Relief Act and robust appropriations for the CRISI grant program in fiscal year 2025. Educating new staff on short line railroad legislative priorities has been a focus of these meetings as well.

The Association encourages those who have a relationship with their member of Congress to reach out and reacquaint themselves with staff, as there has been quite a bit of turnover in offices over the last year.

In addition, anyone interested in taking a more active role in advocating on behalf of short line railroad interests is encouraged to register for Railroad Day on Capitol Hill, which takes place on May 8. Representatives from across the freight rail industry will gather in Washington, D.C. to meet with House and Senate leaders and Hill offices and talk with them about rail priorities.


Stinson paid 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 Eight New Members


AnoDynamix, based in Carthage, Missouri, is the North American distributor for a comprehensive emission control system. It’s a solid state, stand-alone system for all diesel engine platforms - reducing particulate matter (soot) emissions up to 60 percent while lowering fuel consumption 10 percent or more. President/CEO Kevin McKelvy is our primary contact and can be reached on (417) 758-8240. Many thanks to Horizon Management for recommending they join ASLRRA.

Learn more about them by visiting Booth #206 in the exhibit hall at our annual conference and exhibition in Kansas City later this month. 


Rail Industries CanadaRail Industries Canada Inc., based in Quebec, is a partner for railway rolling stock maintenance, refurbishing and modernizing. For over 25 years, RIC has supplied millions of high-performance spare parts and tooling to the rail industry. Customer Service Manager Cindy Morrison is our primary contact and can be reached on (514) 336-8998.

Learn more about them by visiting Booth #1122 in the exhibit hall at our annual conference and exhibition in Kansas City later this month.




RailCube, based in the Netherlands and market leader in Europe, is a cutting-edge logistics and supply chain management solution designed to streamline rail transportation operations. The platform offers real-time tracking, efficient scheduling, and comprehensive analytics to optimize the movement of goods via rail. RailCube is also active outside Europe and is proudly serving Pacific National, with over 3,000 skilled train drivers Australia's largest private rail freight operator, to ensure seamless and efficient logistics. With RailCube, businesses can enhance their operational efficiency, reduce costs, and ensure timely delivery of goods by harnessing the power of advanced technology in the rail logistics industry. CEO Dennis Hendriksen is our primary contact and can be reached on +31 6 4470 0498.

Look for the RailCube team at this month’s ASLRRA annual conference & exhibition in Kansas City.


Railway Labor Consulting

Railway Labor Consulting, LLC, based in Mayfield, Kentucky, provides labor relations services for organized (unionized) railroads, as well as handling discipline and decertification issues for both organized and non-organized railroads. Thomas Clifton is our primary contact and can be reached on (270) 243-4264.

Learn more about them by visiting Booth #1102 in the exhibit hall at our annual conference and exhibition in Kansas City later this month.


SennebogenSennebogen LLC, based in Stanley, North Carolina, has been a leading name in the global material handling industry for over 70 years. Sennebogen offers a complete range of purpose-built machines to suit virtually any material handling application. Established in the U.S. in 2000, it has quickly become a leading provider of specialized equipment solutions for barge and port operations, tree care, recycling and scrap metal yards, log-handling, demolition, transfer stations and waste facilities from coast to coast. President Constantino Lannes is our primary contact and can be reached on (704) 347-4910.

Learn more about them by visiting Booth #741 in the exhibit hall at our annual conference and exhibition in Kansas City later this month.


HF SinclairHF Sinclair Corporation, based in Dallas, Texas, is a diversified energy company with an enduring family of brands. From refining to midstream to marketing, it provides traditional and renewable fuels and lubricants for planes, trains, automobiles, and other essential products. The Red Giant Oil and Petro-Canada lubricants brands offer a variety of products to meet railway needs, including locomotive engine oil, journal bearing oil, industrial/compressor oil, and rail curve grease. Director Sales, Red Giant Oil,  Rachel Hays, is our primary contact at (712) 561-0745.


Superior Sales & ServiceSuperior Sales & Service, based in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, offers a complete range of maintenance of way equipment, including custom-manufactured solutions such as its popular Polaris on Hy-rail, push carts, and compact rail excavators, all built to last. It is also a trusted distributor and national repair facility for gas, hydraulic, and battery maintenance tools. VP-Sales & Operations Scott Anderson is our primary contact and can be reached on (402) 296-1010.

Learn more about them by visiting Booth #1025 in the exhibit hall at our annual conference and exhibition in Kansas City later this month.




TCR Rail Systems


TCR Rail Systems, LLC, based in Simpsonville, Kentucky, provides turnkey systems for highway grade crossings and signal systems throughout the U.S. It specializes in highway crossings and warning systems. President Chris Ramey is our primary contact and can be reached at (502) 405-3004.

Learn more about them by visiting Booth #841 in the exhibit hall at our annual conference and exhibition in Kansas City later this month.




ASLRRA Annual Conference

Two Trailers Provide Technology Display in the Exhibit Hall

The exhibit hall at this year’s ASLRRA Annual Conference is completely sold out, and while there will be plenty to see with over 260 booths, two big draws will be the trailers on display. ASLRRA business partners Iowa Northern Railway and Loram will have a mobile training center and RGT rail grinder, respectively, parked in the exhibit hall for attendees to see.

The Mobile Technical Training Center will be featured near the center of the hall.  It can travel anywhere in the continental U.S. and houses two FRA Type II locomotive simulators and classroom space to accommodate up to six students. 

The mobile center is an important component of the Short Line Training Center, a collaborative project created by ASLRRA and Iowa Northern, with funding support from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).  The Short Line Training Center combines an online Learning Management System (LMS) and locomotive simulators to deliver essential courses and materials to railroad employees.

Loram will have on display its RGT Rail Grinder in the back right area of the hall next to its booth. The RGT Quick-Deploy Rail Grinder is a hi-rail equipped U.S. Department of Transportation-certified fifth wheel rail grinder able to travel on virtually any North American roadway. The RGT can deploy or be recovered in as few as five minutes at a rail access point near a service destination.

Loram is a leading supplier of track maintenance, inspection services and infrastructure optimization services and equipment and a preferred provider in ASLRRA’s Member Discount Program, offering discount pricing on comprehensive tie inspection services using Aurora Track Inspection Technology.

It is still possible to register for the annual conference and take advantage of all the event has to offer. Secure your spot today!

ASLRRA's Mobile Technical Training Center

ASLRRA's Mobile Technical Training Center


Loram's RGT Rail Grinder

Loram's RGT Rail Grinder


Grants and Funding

ASLRRA Grant Resources


Port Infrastructure Grant Program Now Open, Applications Due May 10

The Maritime Administration (MARAD) has announced a notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) for the Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP), which makes $500 million in grants available for eligible projects, including rail.

Projects funded by PIDP grants include “those that improve the safety, efficiency, or reliability of…movement of goods into, out of, around, or within a port.” Rail infrastructure and intermodal facilities fall within that category. Also highlighted in the NOFO is funding for projects that pursue environmental and emissions mitigation measures. On that list of eligible environmental projects are equipment replacements and retrofits and provision of idling reduction infrastructure.

Railroads can partner with eligible entities to apply for a grant. Eligible entities include states, public agencies or publicly chartered authorities established by states and special purpose districts with a transportation function.

A copy of the NOFO is available here. The PIDP webpage offers additional information to potential applicants and MARAD is also scheduling webinars to help with the application process. The first takes place tomorrow, March 14, and is titled “How to Apply for a FY24 PIDP Grant.” Click here to register for the webinar. Other scheduled webinars are listed below. Currently, registration is only open for the March 14 and March 18 events.


If Your Organization Does Only One Thing Before the CRISI NOFO is Released, Do This: Get in the Federal System

ASLRRA expects the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant program notice of funding opportunity to be released by the end of the month, leaving short line railroads little time to complete important pre-application steps. Registering in the federal system can take several weeks.

All grant applicants must be must be properly registered in two federal systems: The System for Award Management (SAM) and Grant applicants must first be set up in SAM to register in and all recipients of federal funds must be registered in SAM. All application materials are submitted through

Registering with provides entities a Unique Entity Identifier, which is required of all applicants. Not only can SAM registration take weeks, completing that process can bring to light other administrative or data needs that require resolution prior to submission.

First-time users of are encouraged to experiment with creating a workspace and familiarizing themselves with the interface as early as possible. Even entities that already have accounts with and should ensure their information is current, and the logins work in both systems.



Members Receive Preferred Pricing on Drug and Alcohol Testing Services with Spark TS

Spark TS is the exclusive Preferred Provider of drug and alcohol testing services in the ASLRRA’s Member Discount Program.  Spark TS is passionate about helping railroads and contractors meet Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) drug and alcohol testing requirements, delivering key differentiators for drug and alcohol testing services including railroad industry-specific DAT expertise, online tools and key national partnerships. 

The company’s expert team has built a program to offer drug and alcohol testing services and programs to help railroads and contractors find the most effective strategies to manage their company, Part 219, and other DOT-regulated programs. Spark TS’s drug and alcohol program services include clinic and mobile or onsite testing services, laboratory and medical review officer (MRO) services, electronic chain of custody forms and more.

Visit and click on the Spark TS logo to learn more.


ASLRRA Offers DSLE and Part 217 Training in Nashville

ASLRRA’s JR Gelnar and Iowa Northern Railway’s Mark Vaughn will come together to present the Association’s Advanced DSLE and Railroad Operating Rules (Part 217) training seminar June 4 to 5 in Nashville, Tennessee.

This popular seminar provides information on Designated Supervisor of Locomotive Engineer (DSLE) responsibilities, including application and administration of 49 CFR Part 240 and Part 242 similarities and differences and Part 217 railroad operating rules.

Online registration is also open for ASLRRA’s other training seminars offered every month from April through August. Individuals are encouraged to register early, as space is limited. Follow each link below for more information and to register.

ASLRRA also offers scholarships to employees of small railroads to help offset training costs. Click here for more information about scholarships.


Out and About

Baker Advocates for Members in FRA Hearing, Travels to Chicago for Railway Age Event

Yesterday Chuck Baker participated in a virtual hearing held by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). He testified in support of ASLRRA member parent company Genesee & Wyoming Inc. and its request for a waiver of compliance from the FRA to continue to test autonomous battery-operated railcars, provided by Parallel Systems, on the Georgia Central Railway and Heart of Georgia Railroad.

The project has the potential to open up a brand-new market for smaller railroads to complement their existing conventional rail services, while reducing congestion and emissions near busy port areas. Baker also noted that approving this pilot would help contribute to a responsible use of taxpayer funds, as public money has already been spent on the project. The U.S. Department of Energy awarded Parallel Systems $4.4 million in Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) funds in early 2022 to test these autonomous battery-electric powered railcars.

Baker also traveled to Chicago, Illinois to attend the 2024 Railway Age Railroader of the Year reception hosted by the Western Railway Club. The dinner honored CN President and CEO Tracy Robinson.



On-Demand Webinars

Webinars by FRA’s Experts Available in ASLRRA’s On-Demand Library

ASLRRA has worked with the Federal Railroad Administration’s subject-matter experts to provide important regulatory and compliance information via webinar to Association members. Look for the following titles in ASLRRA’s On-Demand Webinar Library:

  • FRA Updated Part 240/242 Audit Process
  • Part 243 Railroad Obligations with Contractors
  • Roadway Worker Protection (RWP) Hot Topics

Visit ASLRRA’s webinar homepage and log in to view all the on-demand offerings in the Association’s webinar library.


Click here to learn more about our education offerings.


Industry News and Events

April 10-11: NDASA to Hold Regional Training in Minnesota

The National Drug and Alcohol Screening Association (NDASA) will hold a regional training event April 10 to 11 in Roseville, Minnesota.

The event will feature a train-the-trainer course on oral fluid testing and a designated employer representative (DER) training course, updates on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) clearinghouse and more. Participants will also have the opportunity to tour the LabCorp Laboratory. Click here for more information and to register.


May 15-17: NDASA Annual Conference Takes Place in Pennsylvania

A month after its April training event, NDASA will hold its Annual Conference and Trade Show in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

NDASA’s conference is meant for those in the drug and alcohol testing industry and includes training opportunities, education sessions and more. The event’s keynote speaker is comedian, actor, producer and author Tom Arnold. Click here for more information and to register.


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.