Views & News - March 20, 2024

Views & News


Due to the ASLRRA Annual Conference next week, we will not publish Views & News. The next issue will be April 3.

We hope everyone travels safely to and from the conference and has a restful and enjoyable Easter weekend.


Issue Highlights:

Regulatory – ASLRRA President Baker to testify during EPA hearing on CARB regulation

Legislative – Senate introduces companion bill streamlining TSA safety clearance process

New Members – ASLRRA welcomes eight new members

Grants & Funding – Michigan, New York award millions in grant funding to railroads


ASLRRA 2024 Conference

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Short Line Notable News

In this section, we showcase short line industry stories published in local media. 



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 Preferred Provider MaxAccel

ASLRRA’s Member Discount Program now includes a new Preferred Provider, MaxAccel. MaxAccel offers a suite of software products available in web and mobile-based solutions to assist small railroads in driving safety, regulatory compliance, operational efficiency and return on investment. 

Over 220 freight railroads, passenger operations and railroad contractors rely on MaxAccel’s suite of electronic recordkeeping applications every day, making them some of the most widely used in the rail transportation industry. ASLRRA members can choose one application or several to make MaxAccel their single solution for electronic recordkeeping.

“ASLRRA welcomes MaxAccel to a select group of providers as a Member Discount Program provider. Recordkeeping is a time-consuming process for short line railroads, and accuracy is absolutely critical for compliance,” said ASLRRA President Chuck Baker. “The company’s suite of software products is highly regarded in the rail industry, and customized to meet the needs of Class II and III railroads. Using MaxAccel’s electronic recordkeeping solutions and analysis capabilities will enable short lines to focus scarce resources on growing their business as part of a world-class freight rail network, delivering high quality, safe, rail service to their customers.”

ASLRRA members have access to discounted pricing for products and services that are selected as Member Discount Program participants.

MaxAccel’s product offerings available as part of the Member Discount Program include all eight solutions on the AssetPro and SafeTrack Platforms:

  • AssetPro Locomotive™  - manages locomotive and MOW equipment scheduled inspection and testing cycles, Blue Card generation, EPA compliance reporting, asset configuration management and more. 
  • AssetPro Signal™ - provides crossing, signal and ROW asset inspection and testing. 
  • AssetPro Signal Trouble Ticket™ - a grade crossing incident reporting system working in synch with AssetPro Signal, providing RSIA 2008 Credible Caller Reporting compliance. 
  • AssetPro Track™ - manages Part 213 Track Inspection compliance.
  • SafeTrack™  - a market-leading solution for Part 217 Efficiency Testing, 240/242/243 Certification and Qualification management including OJT, Check Rides, Field Briefings, Safety Audit Checklists, progressive discipline and more. 
  • SafeTrack HOS™ - provides Part 228 Hours of Service recordkeeping for all crafts along with the ability to manage electronic rulebooks, drive employee communications and payroll. 
  • SafeTrack Compliance Reporting™ provides ability to easily manage monthly Part 225 reporting in lieu of using the AIRGNET portal.
  • SafeTrack Crew™ - a new workforce and job scheduling system built specifically for Class 2 railroad operations representing the next generation in crew management software. 

The company also provides interactive infographic analytics capabilities for easy assessment of reporting and risk management. 

To join ASLRRA’s Member Discount Program, contact ASLRRA’s Senior Vice President, Education and Business Services Sabrina Waiss.


Registration Still Open for ASLRRA’s Annual Conference as Staff Begins Arriving in Kansas City

St. Patrick’s Day is behind us but you’ll see lots of green in the exhibit hall starting this weekend at ASLRRA’s Annual Conference and Exhibition.

The Green Zone is where companies that provide products/services that improve the environment and promote sustainability are featured. Recycled products, lubricants, batteries, engines and other equipment, technology and much more are on display. Please take time to learn more about their offerings before the show by visiting here and clicking on their websites, and visiting them in the Expo Hall Sunday and Monday during the conference. They'll be easy to find – just look for the green carpet.

Anticipation continues to build for ASLRRA’s Annual Conference as staff members put the finishing touches on conference events, exhibitors pack up their crates and participants finalize their itineraries.

And yet, despite being less than a week away from the conference’s opening day, ASLRRA continues to welcome registrations from all those eager to hear from keynote speakers, browse a sold-out exhibition hall, hear from dozens of industry- and subject-matter experts and take advantage of multiple formal and informal networking opportunities.

Registration will be possible on site at the conference, but individuals are encouraged to register online before arrival.

Conference attendees should check their emails for a “Know Before You Go” email that was sent March 19. The email contains details about the event, an attendee list and instructions for downloading the 2024 ASLRRA Conference app. Attendees can log into the app and have every important detail at their fingertips. In addition to viewing maps, schedules, exhibitor lists and education session descriptions, app users can plan their day, receive conference alerts and connect with other conference goers.



Chuck Baker to Testify in EPA Hearing on CARB Regulation Authorization

Today, ASLRRA President Chuck Baker will participate in an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) public hearing on the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) request for the EPA to authorize its In-Use Locomotive Regulation.

The hearing will begin at 10 a.m. Eastern time. With so many people scheduled to testify, the testimony will take place in two- and two-and-a-half hour chunks. Baker is expected to speak between 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.

ASLRRA opposes CARB’s locomotive regulation, which will impose significant burdens on small railroads in California, potentially putting some out of business completely. There are 25 Class III, small business railroads in California, which the California Short Line Railroad Association estimates operates one third of the state’s freight rail network. The loss of any of these railroads would have a significant impact on the state and national supply chain and force freight back on to trucks clogging and damaging local roads.

Moreover, railroads provide an environmentally friendly shipping alternative to trucks, responsible for only two percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in California compared to 23.5 percent from trucks.

Other ASLRRA member representatives will testify during the hearing, including individuals from the Modesto and Empire Traction Company, Mendocino Railway, Santa Maria Valley Railroad and member parent company Genesee & Wyoming Inc. Click here to view a full list of all hearing participants. A Zoom link to access the hearing is available here.

The EPA has also invited the public to submit written comments on CARB’s request. ASLRRA will send written comments, which are due April 22.


ASLRRA Submits Petition for Reconsideration to FRA Regarding EEBA Final Rule

ASLRRA has submitted two petitions, one alone and one jointly with the Association of American Railroads (AAR), petitioning the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to reconsider its final rule concerning emergency escape breathing apparatus (EEBA) standards.

The final rule requires railroads to provide an EEBA to every train crew member and certain other employees occupying a locomotive cab of a freight train transporting hazardous materials considered a toxic inhalation hazard (TIH). In comments filed in June 2023 during the EEBA proposed rule comment period, ASLRRA noted it had previously asked the FRA to provide Class II and III railroads an exception to the rule similar to that provided for positive train control (PTC) requirements. ASLRRA’s individual petition again asks the FRA to exempt small railroads from the EEBA rule.

The joint petition with AAR asks the FRA to reconsider timelines for compliance with the EEBA rule. The final rule orders Class I and II railroads to comply within 12 months of the rule’s effective date, and Class III railroads to comply within 18 months, giving them until March 26, 2025 and Sept. 26, 2025 respectively.

ASLRRA and AAR inform the FRA that it could take up to a year or more to procure EEBAs from manufacturers, time that does not include fulfilling other requirements such as training employees on EEBAs, which cannot take place without the equipment. The petition identifies other implementation difficulties that would further hinder railroad compliance on the current timeline.


Biden Nominates Homendy for New Terms on National Transportation Safety Board

President Joe Biden has nominated Jennifer Homendy for another term as member and chair of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Homendy’s nominations for NTSB member and chair are separate and require separate Senate votes. The NTSB member term would last five years, and the term of NTSB chair is three. She has been an NTSB member since 2018 and chair since 2021.

The nominations now go to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. On March 11 the Senate confirmed two pending NTSB member nominees, Alvin Brown and Todd Inman. They were sworn in on March 13. Brown is the former mayor of Jacksonville, Florida, and Inman is the former U.S. Department of Transportation chief of staff.


Irwin Car Paid Sponsorship

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



Senate Introduces Companion Bill to House Transportation Security Screening Modernization Act

The Senate has introduced its version of the Transportation Security Screening Modernization Act, which would standardize the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) security clearance process and eliminate redundant fees and background checks for certain transportation workers.

Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Angus King (I-Maine), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) introduced the bill, S.3959, on March 14. The House version, H.R.7223, was introduced on Feb. 5.

ASLRRA, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) and other national transportation organizations support the bill. Currently, certain supply chain and transportation workers need multiple security certifications for their jobs and must complete the same background check process several times, paying fees each time. This legislation would allow workers to enroll at a TSA enrollment center once and use that approval to attain multiple credentials, reducing time and costs for applicants.


Congress, White House Reach Tentative Agreement to Fund the Government

News out of Washington D.C. indicates an agreement has been reached between Congress and the White House on six spending bills that need to be passed by March 22 to avoid a partial government shutdown.

Disagreement over funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) held up the spending package, but with an agreement in place lawmakers are working to put together the final legislative text for member voting. All six bills would fund the government through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, as did the first group of six bills that were passed just before the first part of the previous continuing resolution expired on March 8. That first group included funding for the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Congress could still require another brief continuing resolution if the spending bills do not pass all procedural hurdles in time to allow voting before Friday’s deadline. In addition to DHS, the agencies and organizations covered by these bills include the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education; Legislative Branch; and State-Foreign Operations.


ASLRRA Signs Letter Opposing Heavier Trucks Allowed in MOVE Act

ASLRRA joined a letter with 16 other organizations to House and Senate leaders of the chambers’ respective appropriations, transportation and public works committees expressing concern over the recent introduction of the Modernizing Operations for Vehicles in Emergencies Act (MOVE Act), H.R. 7496.

The bill, introduced in the House of Representatives, would allow governors to increase truck weights on interstates in response to an emergency or “other unusual conditions.” The bill expands the definition of an emergency situation beyond natural disasters, and the governor of each state would be responsible for defining and declaring these emergencies. The bill does not include a maximum weight limit for trucks in these situations.

The Coalition Against Bigger Trucks (CABT) coordinated the letter, which goes on to point out that “interstate weight limits are the exclusive authority of Congress” and the MOVE Act “creates a blank check for states to preempt federal regulation” by giving governors the power to allow heavier trucks. Also described in the letter is the potential for severe damage heavier, longer trucks would inflict on American roads and bridges.

Leaders of national law enforcement organizations sent a similar letter to members of Congress concerning the MOVE Act, pointing out the danger heavier trucks pose to other drivers and the other serious safety problems of heavier trucks.


Part 214 Training Seminar


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

BG Products logo

BG Products, Inc., based in Wichita, Kansas, manufactures and distributes a broad line of specialty lubricants, greases, chemical additives and cleaners throughout the world. BG high-quality, professional-use products are marketed through a network of independent distributors used extensively in automotive, heavy equipment, trucking and fleet applications. General Manager Shawn Farney is our primary contact and can be reached on (316) 266-8108. Many thanks to our friends at Watco for suggesting that they join ASLRRA.


Duagon logo

duagon USA, Inc., based outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is part of a fast-growing technology company based in Switzerland. It is a leading supplier of communication, computing, and control technology as well as project planning and engineering services for system-critical applications for the rail market. The superior software and hardware IP create innovative, highly reliable, and safe products, enabling customers to shape and realize their technology roadmap. Managing Director/VP of Sales Melissa Stiavelli is our primary contact and can be reached on (215) 542-9575.


A.G. Hackle logo


A.G. Hackle Construction, based in Soperton, Georgia, is a full-service rail bridge contractor. It specializes in bridge timber, steel, concrete, mechanical & culvert repairs. President Adam Hackle is our primary contact and can be reached on (912) 326-7846.


Island Radar logo

Island Radar, based in Springville, Utah, develops applications for vehicle detection warning systems at railroad crossings; blocked or obstructed crossings; train detection at diamond crossover interlockers, and for systems at railroad quiet zones and high-speed rail crossings. Island Radar’s flagship product, quad gate crossing application, has caught the attention of several Class 1 railroads through testing and proving this system. It established the use of a redundant radar system at grade level crossing to improve the crossing safety at four quadrant gate locations leading to Island Radar gaining FRA approval as a product for level crossing safety. Sales Coordinator Donna Hutchins is our primary contact and can be reached on (407) 520-0730.


MEI logo

Marion Environmental, Inc. (MEI), based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, provides full-service environmental consulting, emergency response, waste management as well as hazardous and non-hazardous waste transportation. MEI has been a primary contractor for Class I and regional railroads performing emergency response services, site remediation projects and high-haz tank car transfer, clean and purge services. Operations Manager-Northeast David Fentress is our primary contact and can be reached on (832) 465-2866. Many thanks to Fred Olivari of EA Engineering, Science, and Technology, Inc. for recommending they join ASLRRA.


Trans Canada Forest Products logo

Trans Canada Forest Products has offices in Statesville, North Carolina and Henryville, Quebec, and storage locations in Canada, the Midwest and Western USA. With over 100 years combined industry experience it supplies commercial and industrial treated wood products such as railroad ties, switch ties, bridge timbers, utility poles, pilings, and posts. It offers a variety of preservative types and can supply all industrial and specialized beams in many species such as douglas fir, eastern and western hemlock, red pine, southern yellow pine and mixed hardwoods, as well as western red cedar and other naturally durable species. U.S. Sales Manager Scott Rubin is our primary contact and can be reached on (386) 216-9568.

Learn more about them by visiting Booth #238 in the exhibit hall at our annual conference and exhibition in Kansas City starting this weekend.


TRC companies logo

TRC Companies (TRC), based in Windsor, Connecticut, is an industry-leading provider of environmental engineering services to rail service providers throughout North America. It has completed thousands of projects for Class I and short line railroads. Through its interdisciplinary staff of over 7,500 scientists, engineers, and project managers, it helps clients solve environmental challenges. Vice President Leo Thorbecke is our primary contact and can be reached on (812) 322-0936.


TL Wallace Construction

T.L. Wallace Construction, Inc., based in Columbia, Mississippi, is a railroad contractor with a team to handle all of your railroad needs. It can handle large new construction projects, production tie projects, production rail relay projects, spot tie maintenance repair, rail changeouts, track inspection and normal track maintenance, road crossing rehabilitation, new turnout construction and rehabilitation of turnouts, material handling and distribution, track surfacing, equipment hauling and emergency storm work. T.L. Wallace is licensed in 11 states and is able to work in an additional 26 states with no state level contractor requirement. Regional Manager of Railroads Clayton Gant is our primary contact and can be reached on (573) 429-5803.


Grants and Funding

ASLRRA Grant Resources


Michigan, New York Award Grants for Rail Infrastructure Projects

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) announced recipients of grant funding for rail infrastructure projects in their respective states. All 10 projects receiving funding in Michigan, and 13 of 37 projects in New York, will be completed by ASLRRA members.

Michigan will invest $16 million through the Michigan Rail Enhancement Program (M-REP) with funding covering up to 70 percent of recipients’ project costs. Projects supported by this year’s grant awards include rail, tie and ballast replacement, track re-surfacing, bridge repairs, yard improvements and more.

"The M-REP funding allows for continued enhancement of our track infrastructure, as well as driving economic value for Michigan businesses who ship bulk commodities on our lines. Outside of our existing freight business, the increased capacity realized through these projects make it more enticing for potential outside entities to locate in Michigan, driving business growth in our home state,” said ASLRRA member Adrian and Blissfield Railroad Company President Chris Bagwell in the MDOT press release. “We are not only grateful for MDOT's support of A&B, but also grateful for their support of the Michigan rail network as a whole."

ASLRRA members receiving grants are:

  • Adrian and Blissfield Railroad Company
  • Coopersville and Marne Railway
  • Delray Connecting Railroad
  • Grand Elk Railroad
  • Great Lakes Central Railroad
  • Lake State Railway Company
  • Mid-Michigan Railroad Company (Michigan Shore Railroad)

In New York, the NYSDOT’s Passenger and Freight Rail Assistance Program (PFRAP) will provide $111.1 million in funding for port and rail infrastructure projects. Along with short lines, grant recipients included Class I railroads, port authorities, local industrial development agencies and more.

With their grant funding, ASLRRA members will be able to reactivate track to offer service to new customers; move forward with reduced locomotive emissions plans; improve rail crossing safety and upgrade rail lines and bridges.

ASLRRA members receiving funding are:

  • Finger Lakes Railway Corporation
  • New York, Susquehanna & Western Railway
  • Rochester & Southern Railroad
  • Livonia, Avon and Lakeville Railroad Corp
  • Depew, Lancaster & Western Railroad
  • Central New York Railroad
  • South Buffalo Railway Company



Reminder to Supplier Members: Don’t Forget to Vote

Lucas BrewerKevin Washington

Lucas Brewer (left) and Kevin Washington (right)


Online voting has begun for a seat on the ASLRRA Board of Directors representing Associate Business Members (Suppliers). Voting information and instructions were sent to the primary contact at every supplier member company last week. Please note that the online voting period will close on Monday, March 25.

The two candidates are Lucas Brewer, geographic discipline leader, rail for Colliers Engineering & Design, and Kevin Washington, vice president of external relations for Koppers.

Only one vote is allowed per company membership. Please contact Kathy Keeney if you have questions or need a resend of your company’s voting materials and instructions.


Registration Now Open for ASLRRA Part 214 Training Seminar

ASLRRA has opened registration for another summer training seminar: Railroad Workplace Safety (Part 214) held July 9 to 10 in Nashville, Tennessee.

ASLRRA Vice President, Safety and Compliance JR Gelnar and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Specialist Tim Presser will instruct attendees about roadway worker protection, on-track roadway maintenance machines and hi-rail vehicles discussed in Part 214. They will also discuss on-track safety program requirements.

Space is Running Out in the First Four Seminars

Register today for ASLRRA’s other training seminars offered this spring and summer. The first four ASLRRA Training Seminars are nearly full and only three seats are left in the April Drug and Alcohol (Part 219) Training Seminar and Short Line DER Roundtable. 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

Staff Shorts: Who’s Where in the Railroad World

On March 13, Crystal Gitchell attended a round table hosted by House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee Democrats on Rail Safety. The event focus was rail labor and legislation responding to the East Palestine derailment. Gitchell and ASLRRA staff remain closely engaged with T&I Committee staff on the Rail Safety Act and House companion bills.


Industry News and Events

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.