Views & News - June 19, 2024

Views & News


Happy Juneteenth


Issue Highlights:

  • Regulatory – ASLRRA Backs Mendocino Railway in STB Proceeding
  • Legislative – ASLRRA Supports RRB Appropriations Request; Testifies at U.S. House Hearing
  • Announcements – Short Line Survey Open, Responses Due July 26



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 Announces Two New Members of the Board of Directors, Representing the Eastern Region

Two new railroad members have been selected to serve on the ASLRRA Board of Directors, representing the Eastern Region. Rodney Gordon, General Manager of Operations, Conrail, will fill Dewayne Swindall’s unexpired term (2023-2026), and Michael Tetler, EVP and Chief Information Officer, Carload Express will fill Eric Levin’s unexpired term (2022-2025).

In his nomination form, Rodney Gordon notes, “I have been a part of the ASLRRA since 2009 after joining Watco Companies and have seen the value that the ASLRRA provides to short line railroads across the country. I believe that I can make contributions to this Board with 25 years of service in the rail industry and the desire to give back to an industry that has given so much to me.”

Michael Tetler’s nomination form shared his goal of leveraging innovative technology and strategic partnerships to enhance safety, efficiency, and sustainability in the railroad industry, and as a board member, fostering collaboration among industry stakeholders to drive modernization and growth.”


ASLRRA Short Line Training Center



ASLRRA Submits Comments in STB Proceeding in Support of Mendocino Railway

ASLRRA provided comments supporting member Medocino Railway (MSY) in their proceeding before the Surface Transportation Board. ASLRRA opposes the application for adverse abandonment brought by the Great Redwood Trail Agency, stating that the agency did not meet the burden of proof required. MRY has presented evidence and argument showing the present and future public need for service on the Mendocino Line. Moreover, it has shown there is a reasonable expectation that will extend into the future. The evidence submitted by MRY also shows that shippers have committed to moving their freight from truck to rail. This is bolstered by the fact that MRY has obtained a RRIF grant to restore a section of the Mendocino Line, which when restored will permit the full restoration of freight and passenger service on the line.


OIRA to Hold Sessions on How to Participate in a Rulemaking Process

On June 17, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) of the Office of Management and Budget announced in the Federal Register that it would be holding two public training sessions on how to participate in the federal rulemaking process. The trainings will be held on Tuesday, July 9, 3:00-3:45 p.m. Eastern and Tuesday, July 16, 1:00-1:45 p.m. Eastern.

The training will focus on how members of the public can meet with OIRA during OIRA’s review of draft proposed and final rules. These meetings, known as Executive Order (E.O.) 12866 meetings, offer an opportunity for members of the public to present their views on regulatory actions under review. Also, OIRA invites representatives from the agency or agencies taking regulatory action to participate in these meetings to hear from the public as well.

At the training sessions, OIRA will describe (1) what an E.O. 12866 meeting is; (2) how members of the public may request and schedule a meeting; (3) the format of E.O 12866 meetings; (4) what type of information or input is most helpful to receive during an E.O. 12866 meeting; and (5) what makes for an effective presentation during an E.O. 12866 meeting.

Information to access the virtual training sessions will be provided upon registration. Members of the public may register by sending an email to, noting the session they would like to attend.

Additionally, to facilitate E.O. 12866 meeting requests, OIRA has modified its website to simplify the request form and provide several avenues through which the public can request meetings. In addition, OIRA has provided detailed written step-by-step instructions in English and Spanish and a video (also translated into Spanish) on its website on how to schedule a meeting.


ASLRRA Member Discount Program



ASLRRA Urges Congress to Support Railroad Retirement Board’s Request for Funding

There is increasing concern about the Railroad Retirement Board’s funding, which could affect the agency’s ability to serve stakeholders. Enacted appropriations language simply authorizes the RRB to access their own available funds in the railroad retirement trust fund system for the agency's administrative budget, rather than drawing from the general pot of taxpayer funds. ASLRRA, AAR and labor have reached out to key congressional offices urging an increase in funding so that those who rely on the RRB are not shortchanged. ASLRRA recommends that railroad members reach out to congressional representatives urging them to fund RRB at $172.3 million in fiscal year 2025. A copy of the letter signed by AAR, ASLRRA and labor is available here.


ASLRRA’s Chuck Baker Testified on CARB Rule’s Harm to Short Line Railroads and U.S. Freight Rail System on June 13

Thursday, June 13 Chuck Baker testified before the  U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology’s Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight in a hearing, titled “ENVIRONMENTALISM OFF THE RAILS: HOW CARB WILL CRIPPLE THE NATIONAL RAIL NETWORK”.

Baker’s comments relayed the serious harm – including the shuttering of short line railroads  —  to railroads in California as a result of this rule, and ASLRRA’s position that this rule is preempted by federal law, and capricious and arbitrary, with grave consequences for the interconnected rail network, California businesses, and the public.

“The title of the hearing says it all — the CARB In-Use Locomotive Rule will have dire consequences for short lines, and will cripple the U.S. rail network,” said Chuck Baker. “In the rulemaking text, CARB directly acknowledges its understanding of the impact, ‘If these businesses are unable to pass on the costs of the Proposed Regulation to customers, it is possible some of these businesses would be eliminated.’ What they have failed to recognize is the broad reaching, national negative impact of that reality to shippers, the economy — particularly in small town and rural America — and to the American public due to tens if not hundreds of thousands of additional heavy trucks on the nation’s highways as the freight we carry is displaced.”

A copy of Baker’s written comments is available here.  A recording of the hearing can be reviewed here.


ASLRRA 2024 Eastern & Southern Region Meeting


ASLRRA Short Line Survey Open, Responses Requested by July 26

On Tuesday, an e-mail message was sent to the primary contacts at all Class II and Class III ASLRRA member railroads requesting they complete the survey. The survey has been structured in such a way that holding companies can respond for multiple railroads on a single response.

Robust participation helps ensure a more complete picture of the short line industry and helps ASLRRA make compelling arguments on its members’ behalf. This includes responses to federal and state legislative and regulatory efforts like the recent actions of the California Air Resources Board to regulate locomotive emissions, the FRA’s crew size rule, and Congress’s proposed Rail Safety Act. It also includes efforts such as advocating for a fully funded CRISI grant program and a modernized 45G short line tax credit. Robust data makes for more effective arguments than anecdotes, and that enables us to protect and advocate for the industry.

Those with questions about the process, the survey itself or anything else related to this data collection effort can contact ASLRRA’s Cameron Downs or Fred Oelsner.


Become an ASLRRA 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. ASLRRA’s Member Discount Program is highly rated as a valuable member benefit providing access to programs tailored specifically for the short line railroad industry and including exclusive offers, special pricing, and guaranteed exceptional service. Preferred Providers benefit from a broad range of marketing/promotional activities, including visibility on ASLRRA’s website and in print and electronic communications.

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 Engineering & Design; 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. Interested companies may visit our website or contact Sabrina Waiss to learn more.


Industry News and Events

LRW Scholarship Application Due Date is June 28, 2024

The League of Railway Women (LRW) is proudly investing in the railway community by supporting the pursuit of higher education through its annual scholarships. Awardees will be announced in August.

The Sue Black Memorial Scholarship, sponsored by The Greenbrier Companies, will award $5,000 USD to a person pursuing a graduate or undergraduate degree in the rail industry and is in financial need.

The Connie Sumara Memorial Scholarship, valued at $5,000 USD, will be awarded to a woman pursuing a graduate or undergraduate degree and seeking to further her career in the rail industry. This scholarship honors the memory of former LRW President Connie Sumara, an LRW founder and longest-serving president.

The Future of Railroading Scholarship, valued at $3,000 USD, will be awarded to a student pursuing a graduate or undergraduate degree with an interest in supporting the rail industry.


Michigan Rail Conference Features Patrick Fuchs, STB as Keynote Speaker

The Michigan Rail Conference will be held August 14-16 in Livonia, Michigan. The conference will also host the inaugural meeting of the National University Rail Center of Excellence. Click here for more information and to register.

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.