Views & News - June 26, 2024

Views & News


Issue Highlights:

  • Regulatory – PHMSA final rule requires real-time train consist information
  • Legislative – Lawmakers introduce resolution of disapproval to overturn NEPA Phase II Final Rule
  • Out and About – Sarah Yurasko admitted to Supreme Court Bar
  • Webinars – New webinar explains requirements of FRA minimum crew size rule
  • Industry News and Events – Federal agencies host training sessions, webinar; Virginia group seeks rail operator for freight, excursion line



Short Line Notable News

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

The best party at this Pinehurst U.S. Open? It’s on tracks and wheels

OmniTRAX hosts Colorado hazmat training

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.

NTSB Discusses Findings from East Palestine Report

Yesterday the National Transportation Safety Board held a hearing to share findings from its investigation of the Feb. 3, 2023 derailment of a Norfolk Southern (NS) train in East Palestine, Ohio.

The NTSB made 25 recommendations based on information gathered during the investigative process. These recommendations were addressed to different agencies and organizations including the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), Norfolk Southern, the Association of American Railroads (AAR), the Chlorine Institute, the state of Ohio and three professional firefighting organizations.

ASLRRA is reviewing the report and the various recommendations to understand any implications for the short line railroad industry.


ASLRRA Part 214 Training Seminar



PHMSA Final Rule Requires Real-Time Train Consist Information

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has issued a final rule concerning information about hazardous materials (hazmat) shipments. The rule requires information be provided in electronic form to a variety of first responders to enhance emergency response and investigative efforts.

The rule amends parts of the Hazardous Materials Regulations to mandate that railroads transporting hazmat generate and update in real-time information about the hazmat being shipped, providing that information to any first responders, law enforcement officials or others who could be or are involved in an accident or incident involving hazmat.

ASLRRA staff is reviewing the rule for its effect on short lines. The Association filed joint comments with the Association of American Railroads on a proposed version of the rule in December 2023, when PHMSA was soliciting information about the rule and other issues related to transportation of hazmat via rail.


FHWA Issues Funding Notice for Grants That Could Benefit Rail Culvert Projects

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has issued a notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) for its National Culvert Removal, Replacement and Restoration Grant Program.

Though administered by the FHWA, culverts under railroads are eligible for grant funding. However, railroads must submit an application with a state or local public entity. In this program’s first grant cycle Class I railroad BNSF received funding for several projects by partnering with cities and tribes in Washington state.

Applications for this round of funding are due Sept. 23. Click here for a copy of the NOFO.

The program’s focus is to aid the passage of aquatic organisms, specifically anadromous fish like salmon that spend portions of their lives in both fresh and salt water. A map of grant recipients shows where eligible projects are likely to be found and a list of previous recipients and brief project descriptions is available here.



Lawmakers Introduce CRA Resolution of Disapproval to Overturn NEPA Phase II Final Rule

A bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers led by Senators Joe Manchin (I-W.Va.) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Congressman Garret Graves (R-La.) introduced a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution of disapproval to overturn the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Phase II final rule.

In a press release discussing the resolution, Manchin, Sullivan and Graves criticize the rule as rolling back efforts to streamline the federal permitting process. The final rule was published May 1 and revises regulations concerning implementation of the NEPA.

All federally funded projects must meet requirements established by NEPA, and many short line projects are eligible for NEPA categorial exclusions (CEs) that must be secured before a grant agreement can be finalized.


Representatives Introduce Bill Targeting Supply Chain Theft

Yesterday, Congressman David Valadao (R-Calif.) and Congressman Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) introduced legislation to help curtail theft targeting freight shipments.

The Safeguarding Our Supply Chains Act is meant to improve coordination between the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security investigations and the FBI to find solutions to cargo theft. The bill would establish a Supply Chain Crime Coordination Center and a Supply Chain and Theft Task Force and address fraud and theft issues in the rail, motor carrier and intermodal systems.

View a one-page summary of the bill here, or find the full text of the bill here.


Deluzio Appointed to House Transportation Committee, Railroad Subcommittee

Congressman Chris Deluzio (D-Pa.) was appointed to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) to fill a vacancy left after the death of New Jersey Congressman Donald Payne. A week later, he was also appointed to the T&I Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials.

The subcommittee has jurisdiction over the economic and safety regulation of railroads and the federal agencies administering those regulations. These agencies include the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Surface Transportation Board (STB), Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

Back in May, T&I Committee named Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) the railroad subcommittee ranking member to succeed Payne, who previously held that role.





Complete ASLRRA’s Survey to Help Paint a Full Picture of the Short Line Industry

ASLRRA released its Short Line Survey last week, and the Association asks its Class II and III railroad members to complete the survey to help the Association assemble a more complete view of the current state of the short line railroad industry.

Data collected through the survey will help ASLRRA advance a number of initiatives, including updating the industry factbook and providing support for the Association’s advocacy efforts.

ASLRRA asks that survey responses be completed by July 26. Those with questions about the survey can contact Cameron Downs or Fred Oelsner.


MaxAccel Offers Suite of Electronic Recordkeeping Products

ASLRRA Member Discount Program Preferred Provider MaxAccel 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 electronic recordkeeping applications every day, making them some of the most widely used in the rail transportation industry.

MaxAccel’s product offerings, available as part of the Member Discount Program, include all eight solutions on the AssetPro and SafeTrack Platforms. 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. 


Roadway Worker Protection Seminar Takes Place in July

To help railroads learn about and improve workplace safety, ASLRRA is offering a seminar focused on 49 CFR Part 214, which will take place July 9 to 10 in Nashville, Tennessee. A featured subject will be on-track safety program requirements.

Seminar presenters JR Gelnar of ASLRRA and 214 HQ Specialist Tim Presser of the Federal Railroad Administration will also discuss roadway maintenance machines, hi-rail vehicles and roadway worker protection. Attendees will participate in daily interactive discussions with peers and regulatory experts.

Only a few seats remain in this seminar, so interested individuals are encouraged to register for the event soon.

ASLRRA has two other training seminars scheduled in the upcoming months. Click the links below for more information or to register.


Registration Open for Joint Committee Meeting

Associate Business Member Spark TS is hosting this year’s Joint Committee Meeting, which takes place Aug. 13 to 14 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Registration for the event is now open. The meeting is open to ASLRRA-member employees only, though they are not required to be committee members to attend.

Events will include an all-committee meeting on Aug. 13, individual committee meetings on Aug. 14 and an optional evening reception on the second night, with the opportunity to tour the James J. Hill House. 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 GelnarClick here for more information or to register for the meeting.


ASLRRA 2024 Eastern & Southern Region Meeting


Out and About

ASLRRA’s Yurasko Participates in Several Events, is Admitted to Supreme Court Bar

On June 20, Sarah Yurasko was admitted to the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States, meaning Yurasko is now allowed to practice law before the Supreme Court. Yurasko participated in an in-person admission ceremony at the court and was able to witness some case rulings.

The next day, Yurasko was in Chattanooga, Tennessee to give an ASLRRA update at the Railroad Liability Conference. ASLRRA member Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum hosted the event. Then, on June 23, Yurasko participated in a panel discussion titled “Hot Topics in Short Line Rail” at the Association of Transportation Law Professionals 95th Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado. Joining her on the panel was Bill Mullins of ASLRRA member Mullins Law Group, PLLC. Kristin Bevil of ASLRRA member parent company Pinsly Railroad Company was the panel moderator.


Sarah Yurasko (left) was sworn in as a member of the Supreme Court Bar. She took a picture at the Supreme Court with her sponsoring attorney Susan Warshaw Ebner of ASLRRA member Stinson.
Sarah Yurasko gave an ASLRRA Update at the Railroad Liability Conference in Tennessee.
(L to R) Kristin Bevil, Bill Mullins and ASLRRA's Sarah Yurasko held a panel discussion on short line hot topics at the Association of Transportation Law Professionals Annual Meeting in Colorado.


Staff Shorts: Who’s Where in the Railroad World

This week, Sabrina Waiss and JR Gelnar are in Waterloo, Iowa to conduct the Locomotive and Car Compliance (Part 215, 229, 231) training seminar.

Joining Gelnar as presenters at the seminar were Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Motive Power and Equipment Training Specialist Patrick Merritt, FRA Safety Management Team 6 Chief Inspector Stephen Strong and Iowa Northern Railway Company Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Mark Vaughn.

Richard Sherman and Fred Oelsner are in Chicago, Illinois to attend the Wi-Tronix User Conference. Sherman, Oelsner and Viking Navigation’s Adam Nordstrom gave a presentation on federal grant funding and talked about ASLRRA’s 2024 CRISI grant application.

Over 130 attendees, including many from ASLRRA-member companies, were at the conference to share best practices and latest developments in on-board locomotive technology.

Richard Sherman (right) posed for a picture at the Wi-Tronix User Conference with Bruce Carswell of ASLRRA member parent company Jaguar Transport Holdings.
Amy Krouse attends the Meltwater Summit in New York.


Amy Krouse is in New York attending the Meltwater Summit, an event focusing on public relations, marketing and communications, to learn about how to better utilize the Association’s media service and gain insight from communications professionals for leading industry brands and services.


ASLRRA 2024 Central & Pacific Region Meeting



Upcoming Webinars

July 16, 2024 – FRA New Minimum Crew Size Rule: Short Line Requirements

Short lines that operate two-person crews with one crew member outside the cab of the locomotive must comply with the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) crew size regulation and submit notification to the FRA by Sept. 6. Railroads that currently operate or intend in the future to operate with only one crew member in the cab of a locomotive should attend this webinar to understand the requirements under the new rulemaking.

This webinar is free for ASLRRA members and $25 for non-members.


  • Mitch Harris, Vice President Safety and Compliance, Rio Grande Pacific Corporation
  • Josh Banks, Manager Operating Practices, Tacoma Rail
  • Travis Herod, Senior Vice President Environmental, Health and Safety, Watco
  • Jo Strang, Senior Vice President Safety, Regulatory and Environmental Policy, ASLRRA
  • JR Gelnar, Vice President Safety & Compliance, ASLRRA
  • Sarah Yurasko, Senior Vice President Law & General Counsel, ASLRRA


On-Demand Webinars

Federal Agency Representatives Present Important Rail Information in ASLRRA’s Recorded Webinars

Subject-matter experts from federal agencies, including the FRA and Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), have helped present webinars on important railroad-industry topics, and recordings of those webinars are available at any time through ASLRRA’s On-Demand Webinar Library. Some of these webinars include:

  • FRA Accident/Incident Reporting: Special Study Block
  • FRA Justice40 Rail Explorer
  • Employers’ Responsibility Under the RUI – 12(o) Liens and 2(f) Recoveries

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

July 9 and July 16: OMB Office to Hold Public Training Sessions on Rulemaking Process Participation

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will hold two public training sessions to explain how individuals can participate in the federal rulemaking process through E.O. 12866 meetings.

The public can use E.O. 12866 meetings to discuss regulatory actions under OIRA review with OIRA officials and representatives from the agency or agencies taking the regulatory action. These July training sessions will describe E.O. 12866 meetings and their format; explain how to request and schedule a meeting; and offer tips on making effective presentations that include the most helpful information or input.

Individuals can register for either training session by sending an email to and indicating which session they would like to attend.


July 18: Latest in FHWA-FRA Joint Webinar Series to Discuss Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) newest webinar in the agencies’ joint webinar series will discuss the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).

The webinar, which takes place July 18, is free, but registration is required to participate. Click here to register for the webinar.

The FHWA offers highway-rail crossing resources on its website, which includes recordings of previous FHWA-FRA Joint Webinar Series offerings.


Virginia Group Seeks Rail Operator for Out-of-Service NS Line

A coalition of businesses and community groups in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia is looking to revive rail service on a 48.5-mile out-of-service Norfolk Southern line between Broadway and Front Royal, Virginia. The group, the Shenandoah Rail Corridor, has issued a request for proposals (RFP) in its search for a rail operator to take over common-carrier responsibility of the line. 

The project would establish a “multi-use transportation solution” that would include freight rail service to customers in the area, an excursion train and a recreational trail within the existing railroad right-of-way. The group also hopes to introduce seasonal railbike excursions, which would be the first such operation in the state.

Proposals are due on July 26. The Shenandoah Rail Corridor website includes more information about the project and the rail line, including a Rails With Trails Analysis, Track Inspection Report and Bridge Evaluation Report.


California Voucher Program to Begin Accepting Applications on Aug. 13

The Clean Off-Road Equipment Voucher Incentive Project (CORE), started by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and CALSTART, will make $126 million available to California companies to help them purchase or lease commercially available zero-emission off-road equipment.

The program will begin accepting vouchers on August 13, which are meant to help cover the cost difference between traditional equipment and their zero-emission alternatives. Eligible equipment includes cargo handling equipment, railcar movers and freight locomotives, construction and agricultural equipment, mobile power units and more. Additional funding is also available for charging infrastructure, equipment bought by small businesses and equipment used in pollution-overburdened communities.

An updated Implementation Manual that explains CORE and all terms and conditions for program participation was released on June 11, and CARB and CALSTART held a webinar today to discuss CORE.


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.