Views & News - April 24, 2024

Views & News

Issue Highlights:

  • Regulatory – New safety bulletin discusses working with roadway maintenance machines
  • Legislative – Rep. Burlison introduces measure to nullify crew size rule
  • Grants & Funding – Video series aids with federal grant project development
  • Industry News & Events – LRW offers events ahead of Railroad Day on Capitol Hill



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 Joins Wide Ranging Opposition to CARB In-Use Locomotive Regulation Waiver Request

A diverse coalition of interests, including ASLRRA, are united in urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reject the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) waiver request for its In-Use Locomotive Regulation. ASLRRA and the California Short Line Railroad Association (CSLRA) filed joint comments on the pending request yesterday.

ASLRRA and CSLRA make several key points in their comments. According to the Associations, CARB’s request conflicts with the requirements of the Clean Air Act, particularly section 209. Moreover, CARB’s locomotive regulation is arbitrary and capricious and unnecessary. The comments describe how, despite receiving information and feedback from ASLRRA, CSLRA and others during the rulemaking process, CARB has based its regulation requirements on assumptions not grounded in reality.

ASLRRA and CSLRA also note the regulation’s potential national implications, not only because of the tendency of other states to adopt and enforce laws similar to those enacted by California, but because of the interconnected nature of the U.S. rail network. The Associations express alarm at CARB’s cavalier attitude toward the regulation’s potential to drive small railroads out of business, the repercussions of which would reverberate across the national supply chain.

The Surface Transportation Board (STB) weighed in on the pending decision with comments focused on the STB’s jurisdiction and preemption of state laws under the Interstate Commerce Act.

Also submitting comments opposed to CARB’s request include:

These comments join those submitted by California agricultural and industry groups, labor unions, academics, economists and analysts, government officials from multiple states, including those as far away as Virginia, Kentucky and New York, and many others expressing similar sentiments.

In addition to comments, groups and individuals have sent letters to EPA expressing opposition to CARB’s waiver request. All but one of the Republican members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee signed a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan opposing CARB’s request. They discussed the letter in a press release available here.

Representative Jon Tester (D-Mont.) also sent a letter to Regan asking the EPA to reject the waiver request, in part because the CARB regulation is unreasonable and stands to disrupt the transportation network for many outside California. And the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy wrote to EPA attorney David Dickinson with concerns about the disproportionate harm small businesses – both short line railroads and their small-business customers – will experience if the EPA allows CARB’s regulation to go into effect.

These letters are in addition to the bipartisan letter opposing the CARB rule that was sent to Regan last week by twelve U.S. senators. ASLRRA reported on the letter in its April 17 issue of Views & News.


ASLRRA 2024 Training Seminars



Safety Bulletin Describes Proper Safety Precautions When Working with RMMs

A safety bulletin issued today by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) reminds railroaders to take proper precautions when working with roadway maintenance machines (RMM). The FRA issued the bulletin in response to a recent fatal accident involving an RMM.

The accident took place when a roadway worker was pinned between the bucket and body of a track hoe excavator while directing on-track operations to fill areas along an embankment with ballast. The FRA is actively investigating the accident, but published the bulletin to provide important recommendations, including that:

  • Railroads should provide employees with adequate training and appropriate periodic oversight of rule compliance
  • Employees should understand the importance of conducting proper job briefings addressing all known safety risks
  • Employees should understand the importance of good communication and compliance with railroad rules


FRA Report Examines Ways to Prevent Accidents During Restricted Speed Operations

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) published a technical report exploring ways to understand accidents that take place during restricted-speed operations and how best to prevent them. The FRA sponsored the study after noting a research gap in this subject area as well as recording a series of severe accidents occurring due to violations of restricted speed rules.

A team of researchers from Rutgers University and HNTB Corporation conducted the research, which took place from February 2017 to May 2020. Research data showed a lack of significant decline in restricted-speed train accidents since 2000 despite a decline in the overall train accident rate. Study results concluded that taking steps to mitigate human error and implementing advanced train control, such as positive train control (PTC) systems, in restricted-speed train operations could help lower accident risk in these situations.



Missouri Representative Burlison Introduces Bill to Nullify Two-Person Crew Size Rule

On April 19, Representative Eric Burlison (R-Mo.) introduced a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution of disapproval to nullify the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) final rule mandating two-person train crews.

In a press release, Burlison says the FRA’s rule is not grounded in data and “disproportionately harms small businesses.” Representative Scott Perry (R-Pa.) and Representative Randy Weber (R-Texas) are co-sponsors of Burlison’s legislation.

ASLRRA supports Burlison’s effort, and Association President Chuck Baker is quoted in the congressman’s press release, as is Association of American Railroads President and CEO Ian Jefferies.


ASLRRA 2024 Central Pacific Region Meeting Save the Date


Grants and Funding

ASLRRA Grant Resources


FRA Video Series Aids With Project Delivery

In addition to posting presentations meant to help those completing applications for federal grant programs, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has a Rail Program Delivery Video Series that helps grantees and loan recipients understand key components of project delivery.

Three of the most recent additions to the video series are in the Grants & Loans section. They discuss the FRA’s locomotive emissions comparison tool, FRA guidance on developing and implementing railroad projects and provide an introduction to discretionary grant terms and conditions.

Other videos in the series cover topics such as developing a benefit-cost analysis, conducting an environmental review and complying with Buy America requirements.

With CRISI grant applications due in 35 days, on May 28, ASLRRA encourages members applying for CRISI grants to take advantage of the resources offered by the Association and the FRA.


ASLRRA 2024 Eastern Southern Region Meeting Save the Date



ASLRRA’s Newest Preferred Provider MaxAccel Offers Suite of Electronic Recordkeeping Products

MaxAccel, ASLRRA’s newest Member Discount Program Preferred Provider, 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. MaxAccel also provides interactive infographic analytics capabilities for easy assessment of reporting and risk management. 

MaxAccel’s product offerings available as part of the Member Discount Program include all eight solutions on the AssetPro and SafeTrack Platforms: AssetPro Locomotive, AssetPro Signal, AssetPro Signal Trouble Ticket, AssetPro Track, SafeTrack, SafeTrack HOS, SafeTrack Compliance Reporting and SafeTrack Crew. 

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


ASLRRA Training Seminars Help Railroaders Improve Safety Knowledge

Railroad professionals looking to bolster their understanding of industry safety requirements have the opportunity to learn from subject-matter experts at several of ASLRRA’s focused training seminars.

These seminars include:

Limited spaces remain in these seminars, so interested individuals are encouraged to register soon.

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

In March, Cameron Downs spoke at his son's daycare about the role trains play in everyone's lives. He explained how trains not only carry people but they also transport many of the children's favorite things like toys and snacks. Downs also talked to the children about how to stay safe around railroad tracks, read stories about trains and led playtime where everyone pretended to be engineers of their own trains.   

Several ASLRRA staff members were traveling this week for ASLRRA events. JR Gelnar and Sabrina Waiss were in New Orleans, Louisiana hosting the Association’s Drug and Alcohol (Part 219) Training Seminar and Short Line DER Roundtable. Gelnar and Federal Railroad Administration Drug and Alcohol Program Specialists Sam Noe and Melissa Van Dermeir were the seminar presenters, providing an in-depth review of 49 CFR Part 219 and discussing short line railroad designated employee representatives (DERs).

Jo Strang joined Gelnar and Waiss in Louisiana for the seminar, as it marks one of Noe’s last events before his retirement from government service. ASLRRA staff planned to recognize Noe for his career and his support of the short line industry at the seminar.

Kathy Keeney and Amy Westerman traveled to Denver, Colorado for a site visit ahead of next year’s Annual Conference and Exhibition. They are meeting with hotel and convention center contacts as well as ASLRRA’s show contractor, Heritage, to plan for 2025. As part of the site visit, Keeney and Westerman are visiting a variety of venues and talking with partners about potential off-site activities.

Chuck Baker will be speaking at the North East Association of Rail Shippers (NEARS) Spring 2024 Conference in Saratoga Springs, New York. This year’s theme is “The Race for Growth,” and Baker’s session is titled “Shippers and Short Lines Growing Together.” Iron Horse Logistics Group President Dennis Wilmot will moderate Baker’s session.



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

Environmental Webinars With EPA’s SmartWay Available Online

ASLRRA has partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay program to host a series of webinars that discuss the environmental advantages of freight rail. The below webinar recordings - and many more - are available on-demand at the click of a mouse by visiting

  • ASLRRA and SmartWay: Introduction and Opportunities
  • Benefits of Freight Rail – Capacity, Safety & Clean Air!
  • Benefits of Using Rail from a Shipper & Logistics Perspective
  • Freight Emissions, Carbon Accounting and Sustainability

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

May 7: LRW Hosts Railroad Day Events Prior to Capitol Hill Meetings

The League of Railway Women will host a Railroad Day on Capitol Hill event on May 7 to facilitate member networking with rail industry peers and other government and industry representatives ahead of ASLRRA’s Railroad Day on Capitol Hill meetings the next day.

The full day of activities includes a luncheon with Surface Transportation Board (STB) Member Karen Hedlund, a rail-related site visit and an early-evening reception. Click here for more information or to register.


July 30 – 31: FRA To Hold Rail Program Delivery Workshop

For the first time since 2017, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) will hold its Rail Program Delivery Workshop in Washington, D.C.

On July 30 and 31, the FRA will bring together agency staff and over 200 external FRA partners to provide “updates on funding programs, notable practices, insights, and technical assistance, as well as lessons learned for the efficient delivery of FRA rail projects.” More information and a registration link will be available soon. Click here to view the event website.


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.