Views & News - April 10, 2024

Views & News

Issue Highlights:

  • Regulatory – Two-person crew rule published in Federal Register
  • Legislative – Senate committee considers nominations of Homendy, Fuchs
  • ASLRRA Events – Winners announced in ASLRRA Annual Conference golf tournament
  • Grants & Funding – FRA staff identify top nine causes of delayed grant obligations
  • Industry News & Events – Senator Jerry Moran recognizes Watco’s Rick Webb on Senate floor



Short Line Notable News

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


Palmetto Railways advances Camp Hall Rail Project

Savage Tooele Railroad Line in Utah wins Surface Transportation Board approval

Longest turbine blades hauled via rail leave Colorado


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.

More Seats Added to Some ASLRRA Training Seminars But Space is Still Limited – Register Today!

ASLRRA has added seats to two of its previously sold-out seminars, though there are already less than 10 seats available in each seminar.

The Drug and Alcohol (Part 219) Training Seminar and Short Line DER Roundtable scheduled for April 23 to 25 in New Orleans, Louisiana now has a few additional open spots. The same is true for the DSLE and Railroad Operating Rules (Part 217) seminar to be held June 4 to 5 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Registration for the June 25 to 27 Locomotive and Car Compliance (Part 215, 229, 231) seminar in Waterloo, Iowa is nearly full, as well.

Individuals are encouraged to register for the above training seminars as soon as possible, as well as the Association’s other training opportunities:

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


ASLRRA On Demand Webinars



FRA’s Two-Person Crew Size Rule Published in Federal Register

The Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) final rule mandating a minimum two-person crew was published in the Federal Register yesterday.

ASLRRA continues to review the final rule and its impact on ASLRRA members and consider next steps. Further guidance and analysis for member short line railroads will be forthcoming.


U.S. Chamber of Commerce Calls for Rejection of CARB Exemption Application

A letter sent by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on behalf of itself and over 130 other associations and local chambers of commerce calls on Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan to deny the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) application to exempt its in-use locomotive regulation from the Clean Air Act.

In the letter the Chamber of Commerce describes the “destructive impacts” CARB’s rule would have on the national supply chain and economy, forcing some California short line railroads out of business, hurting railroad customers and forcing freight from rail to local roads.

The Chamber of Commerce also points out the existing environmental benefits of moving freight by rail, which accounts for only 0.6 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and emphasizes the fact that the CARB rule requires railroads to acquire, in short order, technology and equipment that is not yet readily available in the public marketplace.


PHMSA Releases Updated Emergency Response Guidebook

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) announced the release of the 2024 Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG). The agency has also updated its ERG mobile application.

The ERG provides guidance to emergency responders, helping them during the initial phase of an incident involving hazardous materials or dangerous goods. In addition to providing a list of hazardous materials, their ID numbers and associated hazards, the ERG contains a table of markings, labels and placards, a rail car and road trailer identification chart, descriptions of protective actions to take and more. 

PHMSA will be distributing over 1.8 million free copies of the ERG to first responders nationwide. This resource is also available as a PDF download in English, French and Spanish, or a print version can be purchased online at the U.S. Government Bookstore or through commercial suppliers.

The ERG mobile app is available for both Apple and Android phones and is ERG for iOS in the Apple App Store or ERG for Android in the Google Play Store.


STB Upholds Ability of ASLRRA Member TGS Cedar Port to Operate as a Common Carrier Railroad

A recent Surface Transportation Board (STB) decision concerning ASLRRA member TGS Cedar Port Railroad could provide an opportunity for entities operating a non-common-carrier private switching service that want to create a new common carrier Class III railroad.

This case involved TGS Cedar Port Railroad LLC (TGS), which filed a verified notice of exemption to operate over private track located in an industrial park as a common carrier. The exemption took effect on Aug. 6, 2022, but Union Pacific Railroad (UP) and the American Chemistry Council filed requests for the STB to revoke the exemption, challenging TGS’s statement that shippers in the park would continue to have competitive access to two Class I carriers after the change from private to common-carrier operations in the industrial park.

The access to two Class I carriers prior to the change was based on conditions imposed in a 1996 STB decision authorizing the control and merger of UP and Southern Pacific (SP) and subsequent STB decision in the merger docket, including a settlement agreement between UP and BNSF. Those conditions included protections for those shippers that had access to two Class Is prior to the merger to ensure they had the same access after the merger. The industrial park involved in this case is within an enumerated 2-to-1 point.

UP asserted that the conditions imposed in the merger decisions limited rights respecting new short lines and that would foreclose BNSF from access to 2-to-1 points when terminal switching service is provided by a new Class III that replaces a private switching railroad. The STB, however, found that the merger decisions mean that UP is required to provide BNSF with access to both existing and future facilities within the named 2-to-1 point.

The STB also found that the preservation of competition at points that would otherwise become captive to UP was a foundational premise of the merger conditions. Further, the Board said that the list of short lines in the settlement agreement was there simply to memorialize the short lines with which UP and BNSF could interline prior to the approval of the UP and SP merger and did not preclude BNSF from interlining with newly created short lines.


ASLRRA 2024 Training Seminars


Sample Car Inspection Checklists Available in FRA eLibrary

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has published a set of guidance checklist forms to help railroads, rail car owners and rail equipment manufacturers comply with the Association of American Railroads’ (AAR) Standard 2044 (S-2044) and 49 CFR Part 231, Railroad Safety Appliance Standards.

As part of the regular review process, the FRA had to seek approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on the proposed collection of information and paperwork package. The FRA had developed Forms FRA F 6180.161(a)–(k) in 2013 and was requesting an extension without change of a currently approved collection. The OMB approved this request on March 29.

The FRA published each of the checklist forms individually. They can be found in the agency’s eLibrary in the Forms and Templates section found in the Other category under Document Type.


CISA Publishes Proposed Rule on Cyber Incident Reporting

On April 4, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Cyber Incident Reporting as required by the Cyber Incident Reporting for Critical Infrastructure Act of 2022.

The rulemaking proposes to require all short line railroads, along with many other critical infrastructure entities, to report cyber and ransomware incidents to CISA. ASLRRA has joined with the Cybersecurity Coalition through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to ask for an extension of the comment period and plans to work with other industry stakeholders to comment on the proposed rule. Currently, comments are due by June 3.


Updated Crossing and Trespasser Outreach Districts and Contacts Document Available

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) revised its document identifying highway-rail grade crossing and trespasser outreach districts and their associated FRA contacts. The document is available online.

On the document is a map showing which states fall into each of the eight districts. There are also names, phone numbers and email addresses for the district contacts and the contact at FRA headquarters. These regional specialists are responsible for a number of duties under the FRA Office of Railroad Safety’s grade crossing and trespassing division. This includes serving as the first line supervisor for grade crossing inspectors and the team leader for crossing and trespassing regional managers.


OSHA Committee Meetings, Open to Public, Will Discuss Heat Injury Rulemaking

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) and National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH) will be meeting in April and May, respectively. The meeting agendas include a discussion of OSHA’s Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work rulemaking.

Both meetings are open to the public, with opportunity for public comment. The ACCSH meeting will take place April 24, with the registration link available on the ACCSH website in the Highlights box. The NACOSH meeting takes place May 7, with the registration link available on the NACOSH website in the Highlights box.



Senate Committee Considers Homendy, Fuchs Renominations

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation held a hearing this morning to consider the renomination of Jennifer Homendy and Patrick Fuchs to two federal transportation oversight agencies.

Homendy has been renominated to be chair of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), while Fuchs has been renominated to be a member of the Surface Transportation Board (STB). ASLRRA supports both nominees.

During the hearing, both Homendy and Fuchs discussed their experience at their respective agencies and outlined agency activities expected in the coming months. Senate committee members asked both individuals about their policy priorities and some asked rail-related questions on topics like supply chain efficiency and safety. ASLRRA staff believes the committee is likely to advance the nominations for consideration by the full Senate, though the timing of such an action is unknown.

In related news, the NTSB issued a press release welcoming its two newest members. Alvin Brown and J.Todd Inman were recently confirmed by the Senate and sworn in at the NTSB, bringing the board to its full complement of five members.


Railroad Day on Capitol Hill Less Than a Month Away

With Railroad Day on Capitol Hill less than a month away, individuals should register now to attend the event, which will take place May 8. ASLRRA is also welcoming Railroad Day sponsors. Click here to learn more about becoming a sponsor, or contact ASLRRA Vice President, Meetings Amy Westerman.


Annual Events

Annual Conference Golf Tournament Winners Announced

Tom Austin, ASLRRA’s Annual Conference golf chairman, has announced the winners of this year’s competition, which Austin dubbed the ASLRRA Arctic Open.

“We had 70-plus players actually show up, brave the cold, and play golf in Kansas City,” wrote Austin in an email. “With a feels-like temperature that never got much over 30 degrees, you are all truly polar bears!  Thanks for coming out, we certainly appreciate your support and hope you had a great time in spite of the conditions.”

Tournament winners will receive Amazon gift cards. Winners should contact Austin at to provide a mailing address to receive their prize.

The Posse Course

  • First place team – Aaron Clark, Byron Clinton, George Siedler
  • Second place team – John Hornor, Joe Kenny, Rick Wall, Mark Nowicki
  • Third place team – Dave Burleson, John Favors, Jerrett Mankin, Stephen Wiley
  • Closest to the Pin #8 – Clifford Anderson
  • Closest to the Pin #12 – Jason Schaben
  • Longest Putt #18 – Sean Harper

The Outlaw Course

  • First place team - Matt Sturgeon, Jeff Yarbrough, Dustin Shaver, Bryan Walsh
  • Second place team – Patrick DesMarais, Christoper Borden, Cannon Moss, William O’Brien
  • Third place team – Chad Lambi, Jay Roach, Jerry Darnaby, Ian Roach
  • Closest to the Pin #3 – Dustin Shaver
  • Closest to the Pin #16 – Resse Dahse
  • Longest Putt #18 – Matt Sturgeon


Provide Vital Feedback by Completing a Conference Feedback Survey

On April 7, those who were registered to attend the 2024 Annual Conference in Kansas City should have received an invitation via email to take a survey about their experience. ASLRRA thanks those who have already completed the survey.

The Association asks those who have not taken the survey to take a few moments to provide feedback. These answers will help inform the design and execution of future ASLRRA events. Anyone who attended but cannot find a copy of the email with the unique survey link should reach out to ASLRRA’s Cameron Downs.


Save the Date for ASLRRA’s Fall Regional Meetings

ASLRRA’s Regional Meetings will take place this fall. The Eastern and Southern Region Meeting will be held Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 in Jacksonville, Florida. ASLRRA will also offer its Leadership Development, Regulatory Module training seminar Oct. 1 to 2 at the same location.

The Central and Pacific Region Meeting, along with the General Counsel Symposium and Finance and Administration Seminar, will take place Oct. 28 to 30 in Dallas, Texas.

More information about the regional meetings, including hotel and registration details, will be shared soon. Until then, please mark your calendars for these events.


ASLRRA Loram Preferred Provider


Grants and Funding

ASLRRA Grant Resources


FRA Warns Grant Applicants of “Notorious Nine” Reasons Grant Obligations are Delayed

Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant applications are due in only 49 days, on May 28! The team at the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) wants to remind applicants of the “notorious nine,” the main reasons why awardees experience delays in getting to grant agreement execution.

The nine most common reasons are:

  • The project scope, schedule and budget are not well-defined.
  • The project is not at conceptual design level, or greater.
  • The project requires additional environmental review.
  • Matching funds are not in hand.
  • Project partners are not on board with the project.
  • The applicant does not own the right of way or other property required to carry out the project.
  • The applicant requested changes to the project.
  • An agreement satisfying the requirements of 49 USC Section 22905(c)(1) is not already in hand or finalized.
  • The grantee needs a waiver of FRA’s Buy America requirements.

The FRA and ASLRRA offer resources meant to help applicants develop strong applications that address these issues before grants are awarded, or at least to get applicants to plan out and communicate how they will mitigate risks like those listed above.

Yesterday the FRA held a CRISI fiscal year 2023 and 2024 notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) webinar, which will be posted with other resources on the FRA’s CRISI website. And in March the FRA published a general grant application guide. A list of ASLRRA’s resources and links can be found in the sidebar in this newsletter section.


FRA Provides Insight on Buy America Waivers Under the IIJA For De Minimis Costs

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has provided ASLRRA staff with a description of how the DOT has been deploying new de minimis content blanket waivers for IIJA-funded (Bipartisan Infrastructure Law) projects.

In practice the process has been relatively informal. When grantees identify a Buy America challenge with their project that can fit into the waiver, they have a dialogue with their agency grant project manager describing the situation and their intent to apply the waiver. The grantee’s obligation is then to maintain records of the procurement of the materials or items in question under the waiver to document their compliance. Records are kept on file should they be subject to a desk audit during or after construction.

Click here to learn more about the applicability and scope of the de minimis waivers. FRA expects to make some improvements to their resources on the Buy America website in the coming weeks, with more detailed agency policy guidance on this topic to come in a few months’ time.


ASLRRA Railroad Day 2024



Preferred Provider Loram Offers ASLRRA Members Cutting Edge Track Inspection Technology

ASLRRA member railroads can turn tie inspections into savings and safety with Loram’s Aurora Track Inspection Technology.  As an exclusive ASLRRA Preferred Provider, Loram offers discount pricing on its Aurora Track Inspection Technology featuring state-of-the-art imaging technology that scans track to reveal the specific condition of every tie along the way, pinpointing potential problems and marking their exact location. 

A comprehensive tie inspection using Loram’s Aurora technology provides a detailed report that enables a railroad to streamline capital maintenance programs and helps ensure they are in line with industry regulations with compliance reports, while also helping them to plan repairs in the most efficient way possible.

All ASLRRA Member Discount Program Preferred Providers are carefully vetted companies committed to providing discounted pricing, special offers and guaranteed exceptional services on a range of industry-specific products and services. Visit the Association’s Member Discount Program page to view all Preferred Providers and learn how Loram’s Aurora Track Inspection Technology can make railroad operations safer and more efficient.


Out and About

Staff Shorts: Who’s Where in the Railroad World

Chuck Baker and Crystal Gitchell attended the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors, Freight Stakeholders meeting on April 8 in Washington, D.C. The group met with Allison Dane Camden, deputy assistant secretary for multimodal freight infrastructure and policy. She is in charge of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) new Office of Multimodal Transportation.

Camden gave an update on the multimodal and multi-agency response to the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore. She also discussed state freight plans and the DOT’s Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW) program, which plans to have a multimodal freight map available to the public next year.


ASLRRA Staff Share Thoughts in Recent Industry Publications

Chuck Baker was featured twice in the April issue of Railway Age magazine. He participated in the CEO Perspectives segment, answering the question “What are [your] organizations’ most significant achievements in safety?”. Baker talks about ASLRRA’s Jake Safety Awards, the importance of federal grant funding, the Short Line Safety Institute (SLSI) and the Association’s work with Iowa Northern Railway to develop training programs.

Baker also contributed the magazine’s closing column, noting how this year’s Railroad Day on Capitol Hill event in Washington, D.C. takes place on the 155th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad. Baker highlights some of the issues that will be the focus of this year’s Railroad Day event, such as legislation to allow longer, heavier trucks on roads, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) rulemaking and ASLRRA’s efforts to update the 45G tax credit.

Meanwhile Sarah Yurasko wrote about inclusion in an eBook published by Progressive Railroading magazine. The ebook, titled Inspiring Inclusion: Women in Rail and the Equity Embrace, features reflections on inclusion from 16 women in the rail industry. Yurasko, who spoke from her position as president of the League of Railway Women (LRW), spoke about the importance of having strong women role models and mentors, which is something the LRW tries to provide.

Eleven other individuals from ASLRRA-member companies also offered their thoughts in the ebook. These include:

  • Diane Benck of RCE Equipment Solutions
  • Susan Bobb of Loram
  • Erika Bruhnke of RailPros
  • Amanda Fiorante of RailWorks Corporation
  • Kari Gonzales and Maureen Werner of MxV Rail
  • Barbara Jansen of Progress Rail
  • Louisa Stanlake of L.B. Foster
  • Lorie Tekorius of The Greenbrier Companies
  • Kristin Ward of NARSTCO
  • Tiffany Wenrich of Holland



On-Demand Webinars

Learn About Using Technology in Railroad Inspection and Maintenance With Recorded Webinars

ASLRRA’s On Demand Webinars resource library offers over 200 webinar recordings on a variety of topics, from industry-specific finance, human resources and legal issues to business development, strategic communications and more. Check out the following popular sessions discussing innovative technology used in railroad inspection and maintenance:

  • Building a Successful Drone Program
  • Assessment of Railroad Bridges using Wireless Smart Sensors
  • Using 3D Lasers & AI Innovations in Track Inspection

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

Kansas Senator Moran Recognizes Watco’s Rick Webb on Senate Floor

On April 8 U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) spoke on the Senate floor to recognize Rick Webb, executive chair of ASLRRA-member parent company Watco.

Moran noted, in part, Webb’s recent induction into the Short Line Railroad Industry Hall of Fame at ASLRRA’s Annual Conference in March. Moran also spoke about Webb’s leadership, character and integrity and highlighted Webb’s career accomplishments.


SLSI Offers Railroads Assistance in Creating Transportation Emergency Response Plans

The Short Line Safety Institute (SLSI) provides a variety of no-cost programs to assist short line and regional railroads in elevating safety culture. One of the offerings that has been popular is the Transportation Emergency Response Plan (TERP).

Custom made for a specific railroad, a completed TERP is a training and response tool that includes:

  • High resolution maps identifying key physical features and key incident response assets
  • Identification of emergency access routes and roadways that can accommodate large emergency vehicles
  • Contact information for key personnel and government agencies
  • Listing of sensitive receptors and contact information within a one-mile radius of the railyard

This resource is an excellent tool to share with local first responders so that they can be best prepared to assist railroads in responding to an incident.

Contact the SLSI today for more information or to discuss creating a TERP for a railroad.


Advocacy Organization GoRail Celebrates 20 Years

Railroad advocacy organization GoRail is celebrating its 20th anniversary with an special website that offers not only a timeline of GoRail milestones but also a look at the accomplishments of the freight rail industry in the past two decades. In addition, GoRail looks at the past and present with a discussion of ongoing initiatives, its media submissions over the years and more.

ASLRRA works with GoRail on various industry initiatives, including Railroad Day on Capitol Hill. The organization is a supporter of this year’s Railroad Day event.


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.