Views & News - May 29, 2024

Views & News


Issue Highlights:

  • Headlines – ASLRRA supplier member to host joint committee meeting in August, registration is open
  • Regulatory – SBA office requests comment period extension for OSHA proposed rule
  • Legislative – House Agriculture Committee passes farm bill
  • Industry News and Events – LRW accepting scholarship applications



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.

Record Number of Railroads Receive ASLRRA Jake Safety Award

ASLRRA has awarded a record number of Jake Safety Awards to members for their safety performance in calendar year 2023 – a sign of the short line railroad industry’s ongoing commitment to safe practices.

The Association congratulates each of the 385 Jake Safety Award winners that performed better than the industry-average reportable injury frequency rate for railroads, based on data submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Of those winners, 340, or 88 percent, received a Jake Safety Award with Distinction, meaning they had zero reportable injuries in 2023.

ASLRRA also announced this year’s President’s Award Winners, which are Jake Award honorees who post the lowest reportable injury frequency rate per FRA regulations as measured according to different person-hour categories. There are winners for each person-hour category in the Association’s four regions: Central, Eastern, Southern and Pacific.

“‘Safety First’ is the oft-repeated refrain on our nation’s railroads, and it rings true for short lines. Nothing is as important as bringing home every employee safely every day,” said ASLRRA President Chuck Baker. “Our Jake Safety Award program is one way we honor and recognize short line railroads that achieve exemplary safety records. These [record] numbers are impressive measurements of the industry’s safety improvement, reflecting short lines that live the ‘Safety First’ value each day and the industry’s commitment to investing in infrastructure to improve safety.”

Click here to view a list of all Jake Award winners, or click here for a list of Jake Award with Distinction winners. See a list of all President’s Award winners below.


Central Region Winners

  • Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad Company, More than 500,000 person-hours
  • Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Company, 250,000 – 500,000 person-hours
  • PSC Group, 150,000 – 250,000 person-hours
  • Kiamichi Railroad Company, 50,000 – 150,000 person-hours
  • Western Rail Road Company, Less than 50,000 person-hours

Eastern Region Winners

  • Consolidated Rail Corporation, More than 500,000 person-hours
  • Union Railroad Company, 250,000 – 500,000 person-hours
  • New York, Susquehanna & Western Railway, 150,000 – 250,000 person-hours
  • Allegheny Valley Railroad Company, 50,000 – 150,000 person-hours
  • Livonia, Avon & Lakeville Railroad Corp., Less than 50,000 person-hours

Pacific Region Winners

  • Pacific Harbor Line, Inc., 250,000 – 500,000 person-hours
  • Terminal Switching Services, 150,000 – 250,000 person-hours 
  • Clarkdale Arizona Central Railroad, 50,000 – 150,000 person-hours
  • Texas & New Mexico Railway, Less than 50,000 person-hours

Southern Region Winners

  • Conrad Yelvington Distributors, More than 500,000 person-hours
  • Paducah & Louisville Railway, 250,000 – 500,000 person-hours
  • R.J. Corman Railroad Co./Memphis Line, 150,000 – 250,000 person-hours 
  • Railserve Inc. – Switching, 50,000 – 150,000 person-hours
  • Georgia Southwestern Railroad, Less than 50,000 person-hours


ASLRRA Associate Business Member Spark TS to Host 2024 Joint Committee Meeting

Registration is now open for the 2024 Joint Committee Meeting hosted by Associate Business Member Spark TS. This event for ASLRRA’s committees takes place Aug. 13 to 14 in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The meeting is open to ASLRRA-member employees only, though they are not required to be committee members to attend. Committee members who have questions about their committee’s participation should contact their respective chairpersons. General meeting questions can be directed to SparkTS’s Katie Inouye or ASLRRA’s JR Gelnar. Click here for more information or to register for the meeting.

All committees will meet on Aug. 13 at the Union Depot, and individual committee meetings will take place the next day at Hyatt Place St. Paul/Downtown. Attendees are also invited to participate in a Tuesday-evening reception with optional private tour of the James J. Hill House. James J. Hill was a railroad tycoon and businessman in the late 1800s who built railroads across Minnesota and eventually completed a transcontinental railroad from St. Paul to Seattle, Washington.



SBA Office of Advocacy Requests Comment Extension for OSHA Proposed Rule

The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Advocacy sent a letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requesting further extension of the comment period for OSHA’s proposed rule to replace the existing Fire Brigade Standard with a new safety and health standard titled Emergency Response.

The letter requests an additional 90-day extension of the comment period to allow small entities to review the rule, gather information and provide meaningful comments. OSHA has already extended the comment period by 45 days, with comments currently due on June 21.

The Office of Advocacy says that the rule’s complexity and technical nature makes it difficult for stakeholders to adequately respond, particularly because “much of the regulated community appears to be unaware of this proposed rule and unprepared to effectively comment on it” in OSHA’s given timeframe. The office further points out that the rule would have a significant economic impact on many small entities, making their input all the more important.

In addition to a 90-day comment period extension, the office recommends that OSHA also conduct a post-comment public hearing on the proposed rule.


ASLRRA 2024 leadership development seminar



Agriculture Committee Passes Farm Bill With No Truck Size and Weight Provisions

Last week the House Agriculture Committee passed a long-term reauthorization of major farm and agriculture programs, the Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024, also known as the farm bill.

While the farm bill contains provisions for agriculture producers, conservation programs and trade, it was also considered a possible vehicle for language allowing longer and heavier commercial motor vehicles. The bill passed by the Agriculture Committee did not include any such size and weight provisions, which is good news for the general public and the railroad industry.

ASLRRA has worked with the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks (CABT) and other stakeholders to convey to federal elected officials their concerns about legislation that would permit longer, heavier commercial motor vehicles on federal highways. The Association and its partners will continue to work to ensure the farm bill remains free of these measures.

The Agriculture Committee’s bill will go to the full House for its consideration in the next few weeks, with the Senate also planning to consider its own farm bill in the same time frame. Current funding for agricultural and related programs, which itself is a year-long extension of the previous farm bill that expired in 2023, is set to run out at the end of September 2024.




Grants and Funding

ASLRRA Grant Resources



Registration Open for Fall Leadership Development – Regulatory Module Training Seminar

Registration is now open for the regulatory module of ASLRRA’s Leadership Development Program, which takes place Sept. 30 to Oct. 1 in Jacksonville, Florida.

The two-day training program provides an overview of the federal agencies that regulate railroads and, in addition to Federal Regulations 101 and Leadership Qualities for Managers, covers Part 217, Part 218, Part 219, Part 225, Part 228, and Part 243. ASLRRA’s Vice President of Safety and Compliance JR Gelnar and Rio Grande Pacific Corporation’s Vice President of Safety and Compliance Mitch Harris will provide participants with an in-depth understanding of regulations that govern railroad operations.

Seats fill quickly for this seminar. Click here to register today.

Limited space is still available in ASLRRA’s July and August training seminars. Follow the links below for more information or to register.


Join ASLRRA’s Member Discount Program as a Preferred Provider

ASLRRA’s Member Discount Program is open exclusively to Associate Members who are committed to providing exceptional service and volume discounts to short line railroads. Preferred Providers are vetted by the Association and trusted by railroads to deliver quality products and services at negotiated discount rates. 

Discount Program offerings currently include personal protective equipment plus safety eyewear and shoe programs from Würth; tie inspection services from Loram Technologies; grant writing services from Colliers; electronic recordkeeping software and services from MaxAccel, background screening services from ISB Global Services, and employee health insurance from HUB International. 

ASLRRA is actively seeking to expand program offerings and onboard new Preferred Providers for new and existing categories, including grant writing services, electronic recordkeeping software, railroad software and equipment, drug and alcohol programs and services, digital onboard data system platforms, background screening services, and payroll processing services.

Preferred Providers must be an ASLRRA Associate Member in good standing. They benefit from a broad range of marketing and promotional activities, including visibility on ASLRRA’s website and in print and electronic communications.  Interested companies can learn more at ASLRRA’s website or by contacting the Association’s Sabrina Waiss.


Railroad Drug and Alcohol Education Materials Available for Download

ASLRRA members have exclusive access to downloadable Drug and Alcohol Educational Materials, including posters, a Part 219 educational brochure, affidavit templates and employer review documents, designed in consultation with subject matter experts on the Association’s Safety & Training Committee.

The members-only educational-materials webpage also features links to webinar recordings addressing Part 219 control of alcohol and drug use, and covering regulatory requirements, testing programs and issues, and educational materials for railroads. All recordings can also be found in ASLRRA’s On-Demand Webinar library.


ASLRRA Drug and Alcohol Education Materials



On-Demand Webinars

Recorded Webinar Series Gives Overview of Railroad Retirement Eligibility and Benefits

Information from the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) is important to ASLRRA members and webinars on the subject are popular. ASLRRA joined with the RRB to present a three-part series on railroad retirement eligibility and benefits and the recordings are available online. The following titles can be found in ASLRRA’s On-Demand Webinar Library:

  • RRB General Eligibility and Employee Benefits
  • RRB Spouse Benefits and Working After Retirement
  • RRB Survivor Benefits and General Information

Most of the recordings also have a copy of the accompanying PDF presentation available for download. 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

League of Railway Women Accepting Scholarship Applications With New Scholarship Added

The League of Railway Women (LRW) will award three scholarships in 2024 and is now accepting applications for each of them. Applications are due June 28.

This is the first year the LRW will award a Sue Black Memorial Scholarship. The Sue Black Memorial Scholarship joins the Connie Sumara Memorial Scholarship and the Future of Railroading Scholarship as the three the organization will bestow on students pursuing degrees to further or pursue a rail-industry career or who are hoping to help advance the rail industry. Follow the links below to learn more about each scholarship and access the application form.


USDOT’s May 30 Webinar Focuses on Adapting to Climate Change

The May installment of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Climate Change Center’s 2024 Webinar Series will focus on improving infrastructure resilience in response to climate change.

Taking place tomorrow, May 30, the webinar will focus on programs meant to aid efforts to enable infrastructure to withstand natural disasters made worse by climate change. Presenters will discuss federal funding opportunities that support infrastructure resilience. They will also talk about research efforts and development of tools and resources.

Follow the link above for more information or click here to register for the webinar.


SLSI’s Hazmat Tip Gives Overview of Tank Cars

The Short Line Safety Institute (SLSI) has published a new hazardous materials (hazmat) safety tip focused on tank cars. It is the first in a two-part series.

This Hazmat Safety Tip identifies the reporting marks and information that can be found on the outside of a tank car, which can allow individuals to quickly identify information about a car and its contents to minimize and even mitigate risks associated with a hazardous materials incident.

Railroads can incorporate the tip into their safety briefings. Find a downloadable copy of the Safety Tip here, or watch a short Hazmat Minute Video on the subject here.

See more of SLSI's Safety Tips and Hazmat Safety Tips here. Interested in learning more about SLSI?  Follow the organization on LinkedIn.


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.