Views & News - April 17, 2024

Views & News

Issue Highlights:



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.

Senators’ Letter to EPA Calls for Careful Consideration of CARB Waiver Request

Yesterday twelve U.S. senators sent a bipartisan letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan urging the EPA to fully consider the impact of approving the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) request for a waiver for its In-Use Locomotive Regulation.

The letter notes the significant financial burden the regulation would place on California railroads while requiring them to adopt technology that is not commercially available today. The letter also explains how having such a stringent, state-specific rule would “jeopardize the interoperability of the national network” and “threaten the overall health of the supply chain.”

Other arguments describe how CARB’s rule violates restrictions put forth in the Clean Air Act and would disrupt the uniform regulatory landscape, harm the national economy and more.

The senators who signed the letter are:

  • Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.)
  • Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.)
  • John Boozman (R-Ark.)
  • Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.)
  • Mike Braun (R-Ind.)
  • Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.)
  • Joni Ernst (R-Iowa)
  • Deb Fischer (R-Neb.)
  • John Hoeven (R-N.D.)
  • Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.)
  • Roger Marshall (R-Kan.)
  • Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)

ASLRRA’s Baker Quoted in Letter Press Release

ASLRRA supports the Senate letter to EPA Administrator Regan, and Association President Chuck Baker was quoted in a press release discussing it. Senator Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), who spearheaded the letter, also issued the press release.

“We commend Sen. Ricketts and his colleagues for their important leadership on this issue,” said Baker. “Their letter conveys a fundamental message to EPA:  the federal government must stop California’s misguided measure in its tracks.

This state-level mandate requires small railroads to pay draconian compliance costs, discard useful and practical locomotives decades before the end of their useful lives, and acquire new locomotives that are not yet commercially available in order to meet completely arbitrary deadlines. CARB’s rule will be the death knell for small railroads in California if it’s allowed to proceed, and if other states follow this clearly illegal rulemaking, small railroads nationwide will shutter, crippling the country’s supply chain and increasing congestion and air pollution on the nation’s highways – ironically, exactly what CARB claims it wants to curtail.”

The press release also features a quote from Association of American Railroads President and CEO Ian Jefferies highlighting problems with CARB’s regulation.


ASLRRA On Demand Webinars



FAMES Committee Issues Alert After Recent Maintenance-of-Way Fatality

The Fatality Analysis of Maintenance-of-Way Employees and Signalmen (FAMES) Committee issued a new alert after an April 11 fatality involving a maintenance-of-way (MOW) manager who was struck by a roadway maintenance machine.

While the committee has yet to analyze the fatality, it sent out the alert to remind all roadway workers to take appropriate safety precautions when working with roadway maintenance machines (RMM). The alert emphasizes the importance of thorough on-track safety briefings, having clear communication between RMM operators and workers on the ground.

ASLRRA archives important industry safety notices on its website. Click here to view the latest FAMES alert and other recent safety communications.


FRA Research Results Discuss the Expertise Management Framework

Research results recently published by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) discuss the Expertise Management (EM) Framework meant to help the railroad industry in “identifying, capturing, and transferring critical areas of expertise for safety leadership positions.”

TrueSafety Evaluation and Perigean Technologies developed the framework, which includes processes and methods to manage expertise and relies on Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA) to help achieve these goals. The report says that the EM Framework can strengthen both technical and non-technical areas of expertise and makes recommendations for organizations and individuals looking to implement the framework.

The FRA’s Office of Research, Development, and Technology’s Human Factors Division sponsored this work in an effort to mitigate a significant knowledge loss due to shifting railroad industry demographics and an aging employee population. The FRA notes that the expected high volume of workforce turnover is not expected to be resolved through succession-planning or workforce-promotion programs alone.

On Oct. 4, 2023 ASLRRA hosted a webinar on the EM Framework led by representatives from TrueSafety Evaluation and Perigean Technologies. A recording of the webinar can be viewed in ASLRRA’s On-Demand Webinar library. Find it in the Finance and Administration section or use the search term “Expertise Management.” Also available are the webinar presentation materials.


FRA Corrects Information in Revised Safety Bulletin

The Federal Railroad Administration has issued a revised version of Safety Bulletin 2024-01. This revised version, which replaces the original bulletin issued on Feb. 13, makes corrections to factual errors in the first paragraph. The rest of the bulletin remains unchanged.


ASLRRA GCOR Training May 2024



ASLRRA Submits a Statement for the Record for House Subcommittee’s Commuter Rail Hearing

Today the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials held a hearing focused on the commuter rail industry. ASLRRA submitted a statement for the record discussing the Association’s concerns regarding expanding eligibility for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program.

Parts of the hearing involved requests from commuter rail representatives that commuter rail projects be made eligible for CRISI grants. The Association, though appreciative of the work of those in the commuter rail industry and sympathetic to their economic challenges, is eager to fend off efforts to siphon funding away from short lines and the freight rail network.

In its comments, ASLRRA argued expanding eligibility could “snuff out small railroad projects,” despite the demonstrated success of CRISI in enabling small railroads to improve safety and bolster network efficiency and economic growth. The Association also pointed out that commuter railroads already have “substantial, well-established, and dedicated funding programs” and said if Congress desires additional funding for this industry, it should explore options to create new resources and programs.


House Appropriations Transportation Subcommittee Has a New Chairman

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) has announced that Representative Steve Womack (R-Ark.) is the new chair of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee. In addition to Womack, there are two other appropriations subcommittees with new chairs: the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee and the Legislative Branch Subcommittee.


Registration for Railroad Day on Capitol Hill Closes April 29 as Push for Engagement Ramps Up

Several rail industry organizations are joining ASLRRA for this year’s Railroad Day on Capitol Hill event. In addition to being event sponsors and registering for the day’s meetings, these associations are helping boost participation and engagement by encouraging their members and social media followers to join the advocacy effort.

ASLRRA is grateful for all this support. The Association of American Railroads (AAR) encouraged registration in its email newsletter The Signal, while the Railway Tie Association (RTA) spread the news on its LinkedIn and Facebook pages.

The National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) has also been active in talking about Railroad Day. Not only has the NRC created a webpage dedicated to the event and posted about it on its LinkedIn page, NRC Chairman Joe Daloisio’s recent Progressive Railroading magazine column calls on those in the industry to participate in Railroad Day and similar engagement efforts.

As Daloisio writes, “For the first time since 2020, the whole industry will be together, in person, advocating for the freight-rail industry and building valuable connections in Washington.”

With so many outlets spreading the news about Railroad Day, ASLRRA hopes to have a large contingency of railroad industry representatives and stakeholders on Capitol Hill to petition lawmakers in a unified voice. However, time is running out to join that group and support its efforts. Railroad Day on Capitol Hill is on May 8 but registration closes sooner, on April 29, to enable ASLRRA staff to finalize participants’ meeting schedules.

Individuals can register now to attend Railroad Day. ASLRRA also continues to welcome Railroad Day sponsors. Click here to learn more about becoming a sponsor, or contact ASLRRA Vice President, Meetings Amy Westerman.


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 RailPlan International as an Associate Business Member

RailPlan International logoRailPlan International, Inc., based in Annapolis, Maryland, owned and operated by Mansour US Rail, offers a range of services designed to keep vehicles in top working order. It specializes in maintenance, repair, and inspection, ensuring that your passenger cars and locomotives are in compliance with safety regulations and running smoothly. It can also upgrade/modify passenger cars with state-of-the-art systems like Wi-Fi, PTC, and passenger information. VP-Mansour U.S. Rail Pete Di Mola is our primary contact and can be reached on (540) 628-2095. Many thanks to our friends at Amtrak for suggesting that they join.





Annual Events

Mark Your Calendars for ASLRRA’s Fall Regional Meetings

Information about ASLRRA’s Regional Meetings is forthcoming. Until then, individuals are encouraged to save the date for the upcoming events.




Grants and Funding

ASLRRA Grant Resources


FRA Publishes Additional Resources for Executing, Applying for Federally Funded Projects

Two new resources are available to help grant applicants navigate the life cycle of a federally funded project.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) published a presentation titled “Overview: FRA Guidance on Development and Implementation of Railroad Capital Projects.” The agency has also published the presentation from its recent webinar focused on the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant notice of funding opportunity (NOFO).

The overview of railroad capital projects is meant for project sponsors and partners and those who assist in the planning, development and implementation of such projects. The FRA strongly encourages use of this guidance when developing a project, as it covers the activities undertaken at each stage of the project lifecycle and reviews four key project management tools.

FRA asks that applicants for funding organize their projects in accordance with the lifecycle stages as they define them and use that same terminology throughout their applications, including across the project narrative and attachments, such as the statement of work, schedule, and budget.

The CRISI NOFO webinar presentation reviews the grant program, explains how to apply and describes best practices for key parts of the grant application. FRA representatives also discussed criteria the agency uses to evaluate and select grant recipients.

Additional resources recently posted by the FRA in its eLibrary include forms a grant recipient would receive as part of the terms and conditions of a grant agreement. Reviewing these forms can help give applicants an idea as to the kinds of reports and information they would be required to submit under a grant agreement.

Of particular note for CRISI applicants, the NOFO instructs them to use the “Attachment 2: Project Specific Terms and Conditions” sections 4-7 of the grant agreement template as a framework to provide the required statement of work, budget, and schedule information for the proposed project.

The FRA published the four documents separately. Find Project-Specific Terms and Conditions - Attachment 2: Articles 4-7 in the Reference Materials category in the Reference section under the Document Type dropdown list.


ASLRRA Railroad Day 2024



Less Than Ten Spots Remain in ASLRRA’s May GCOR Training Seminar

Limited spaces are available in ASLRRA’s May 7 to 9 training seminar focused on General Code of Operating Rules (GCOR). The seminar takes place in Waterloo, Iowa.

ASLRRA Vice President, Safety and Compliance JR Gelnar and Iowa Northern Railway Company Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Mark Vaughn will lead the seminar, which will provide comprehensive training on the GCOR and can be used to fulfill operating rules training requirements under 49 CFR Part 240, 242 and 214 Subpart C.

Do not wait to register for ASLRRA’s other training seminars:

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


Preferred Provider Würth Provides Quality Products and Exceptional Service to ASLRRA Members

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.


Tentative Dates Set for Joint Committee Meeting

The Joint Committee meeting is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 13 to 14 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Safety and Training Committee would be the hosting committee, and ASLRRA associate business member and Member Discount Program Preferred Provider Spark TS would be the hosting organization.


Out and About

Staff Shorts: Who’s Where in the Railroad World

JR Gelnar was on the road again, traveling to Salt Lake City, Utah to participate in the Association of American Railroads’ Tank Car Committee meeting. Representatives from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) provided updates to committee members and the members also discussed service trials and shop certification issues.


Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) (right) and Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) speak at a bipartisan transportation stakeholders meeting.

Chuck Baker attended a bipartisan transportation stakeholders meeting in Washington, D.C. hosted by Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.). The event included an update on the T&I Committee’s priorities and goals for the rest of the 118th Congress and discussion of the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization, Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) package and the surface transportation reauthorization due in 2026.



Upcoming Webinars

May 1, 2024 – Energizing Railroads: Ko-Solar's Revenue-Generating Solar Energy Railroad Systems

Ko-Solar is a leading provider of comprehensive solar energy systems for transportation. Ko-Solar brings innovative, smart, clean, and sustainable transportation-based solar technology solutions. By integrating solar technology into railroads, Ko-Solar not only harnesses clean energy but also mitigates noise pollution and reduces carbon emissions, and generates additional revenue for railroad partners while they focus on their core businesses.

Presented by: Kora Kotan, Partner, Ko-Solar

Ko-Solar logo

Thanks to Ko-Solar’s generous sponsorship, this webinar is free for members and non-members.


May 13, 2024 – FRA Accident/Incident Reporting: Special Study Block

As of last December, carriers are to discontinue collecting data on crude oil and continuous welded rail and begin collecting Train Length (SSB 1) and Number of Crew in the Cab (SSB2). FRA has corrected an erroneous instruction that still referred to crude oil and has been communicating through their Safety Management Teams and through their contractor to coach railroads on the changes. They are seeing improvement in the reporting but are asking carriers to go back through earlier reports to make any corrections. Carriers have had some questions about the fields such as what types of movements are to be reported and how RCL are handled. These questions will be addressed in this webinar.

Presented by: Andy Martin, Program Analyst, FRA; Rob Siegfried, Program Analyst, FRA; Stuart Gluck, Ph.D. Director, Office of Industry Data and Economic Analysis, FRA


On-Demand Webinars

ASLRRA’s Experts Present Regulatory Webinars – Available Online at Any Time

ASLRRA’s online resource library offers more than 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 featured regulatory sessions below, presented by ASLRRA subject matter experts Jo Strang, JR Gelnar and Sarah Yurasko. All presentation materials are also available for download.

  • Emergency Docket Waivers
  • FRA Penalties and Violations
  • FRA Regulatory & Program Requirements for Short Lines, Part 1
  • FRA Regulatory & Program Requirements for Short Lines, Part 2

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

Canton Railroad Company Hosts Members, Staff of Surface Transportation Board

On April 6, ASLRRA member Canton Railroad Company hosted Surface Transportation Board (STB) members, Patrick Fuchs and Michelle Schultz, and STB Director of Economics Kristen Monaco.  The meeting was coordinated with CSX Resident Vice President of Maryland and Delaware State Government Affairs Brian Hammock.

The group visited the railroad, which is owned by the Maryland Transportation Authority and provides switching services in the Canton area of Baltimore, to become familiar with the economic and operations impacts from the recent collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge. The visit included a tour and a discussion of the work done by Canton Railroad and its Perryville, Maryland subsidiary Freestate Logistics.

Canton Railroad Company President and CEO Paul Barnes (second from left) speaks with STB Member Patrick Fuchs as fellow Member Michelle Schultz (far left) and Director of Economics Kristen Monaco (far right) listen. (Photo: Brian Hammock/CSX)


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.