Regulatory – ASLRRA evaluating impact of new EPA rule on locomotive emissions
Legislative – Congress looks to avert shutdown with passage of second continuing resolution
Announcements – Submit nominations for ASLRRA’s Veterans Engagement Award
Industry News and Events – FRA to host Rail Share forum Nov. 28 and 29
Registration is now open for the short line railroad industry’s premier event – ASLRRA’s Annual Conference and Exhibition. The Association will hold its yearly event March 24 to 26 at the Kansas City Convention Center in Kansas City, Missouri.
The conference will feature a robust agenda with industry-expert keynote speakers, over 40 hours of education sessions, an exhibit hall featuring more than 200 suppliers and multiple opportunities for networking with short line colleagues.
Additional activities include a golf tournament at the Paradise Pointe Golf Complex, an opening night reception and closing night party. Register early to be eligible for early-bird rates for the conference, golf tournament and continuing legal education (CLE) credits.
Book a Room in One of Three Nearby Hotels
Registered attendees will be able to reserve a room in one of three Kansas City hotels where ASLRRA has a room block: Loews Kansas City, Hilton President Kansas City and the Courtyard by Marriott Downtown Kansas City. Every hotel is within walking distance of the convention center.
When making a reservation, attendees should use the links on ASLRRA’s hotel information page or provide the group code if making arrangements by phone. Please note, the hotels on ASLRRA’s website are the only authorized hotels providing guest room accommodations for the 2024 Annual Conference. Please inform ASLRRA’s Vice President, Meetings Amy Westerman if contacted by individuals identifying themselves as official ASLRRA housing representatives or partners. These people are not authorized to sell guest rooms for the event.
ASLRRA cannot help attendees who have issues with hotel rooms booked outside the hotel room block. If unsure about the legitimacy of any situation related to lodging, contact Westerman before providing personal, company or credit card information.
Booths, Sponsorships Available for KC 2024 Annual Conference
More than 160 booths have been reserved for the expo during the annual conference in Kansas City next March but there are still good spaces available.
The expo hall will be the hub of the meeting, featuring two receptions, one lunch and breakfast, numerous breaks as well as an expanded Green Zone area promoting environmentally friendly products and services, the Short Line Training Center mobile classroom run by Iowa Northern Railway and ASLRRA, new exhibitors, and specialty coffee and other bars.
Not interested in a booth but still want to promote your brand and support ASLRRA at the same time? Sponsorship may fit the bill. ASLRRA sponsorship options include a wide range of opportunities to fit nearly every budget. Your sponsorship investment is a prime way to promote your company, reinforce your brand versus your competition, build your presence and raise your industry profile at the national conference dedicated to the vibrant short line and regional railroad industry. A sponsorship commitment guarantees valuable exposure before more than 1,600 expected attendees and is an investment that will pay dividends before, during and after the high-profile event concludes.
In a final rule published on Nov. 8, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) implemented a policy change to no longer categorically preempt certain state regulations of non-new locomotives and engines.
The EPA asserts the new rule aligns with the “plain text of the Clean Air Act,” allowing federal regulation of new locomotives and locomotive engines while enabling individual states to “adopt and enforce certain state standards regulating non-new locomotives and engines.”
The industry has long relied on the categorical preemption of certain State regulations of non-new locomotives and engines. ASLRRA staff is currently evaluating the potential effect of the EPA’s final rule on its members, and has scheduled a number of site visits so that EPA can more thoroughly understand the impact of this rulemaking and future decisions.
In a notice published Nov. 1, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) announced it will establish a federal advisory committee on passenger rail service. The Passenger Rail Advisory Committee (PRAC) will provide advice and recommendations to the STB on a continuing basis.
The PRAC will comprise approximately 18 voting members representing passenger rail transportation, freight rail transportation, commuter rail operations and transportation public policy. There will be at least one representative from a Class II or III freight railroad and one rail shipper representative.
With the addition of the PRAC the STB has four stakeholder committees. The others are the Railroad-Shipper Transportation Advisory Council (RSTAC), the Rail Energy Transportation Advisory Committee (RETAC) and the National Grain Car Council (NGCC). Their members include officials of ASLRRA-member railroad and supplier companies.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published presentation materials from its Oct. 31 webinar on the new Clean Ports Program, which looks to fund zero-emission port equipment and technology and help ports develop climate action plans to reduce pollutants at ports.
The materials cover anticipated eligible activities and equipment, evaluation criteria, program structure and more. Currently only an English version of the webinar slides are available online, but the EPA is planning to upload English and Spanish versions of the recorded webinar and a copy of the slides in Spanish.
The EPA expects a notice of funding opportunity for the program to be released in February 2024. Railroads will be able to partner with eligible entities, like port authorities, for projects and certain planning activities at all marine and inland water ports and large dry ports.
The House of Representatives has passed a two-part continuing resolution (CR) to fund the federal government, meaning the federal government will likely avoid a shutdown that would have been triggered by the expiration of the current stop-gap funding legislation that was passed on Sept. 30 and ends this Friday.
The House voted 336 to 95 to approve the CR. The bill’s “laddered” approach continues current levels of funding for certain agencies and programs, such as the U.S. Department of Transportation, until Jan. 19, and funding for several other major agencies, like the Department of Defense, through Feb. 2. The CR also authorizes the Farm Bill until the end of the next fiscal year, Sept. 30, 2024.
Funding for transportation, housing and urban development is included in the first deadline, meaning Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) programs should continue unimpeded through Jan. 19. This timeframe is expected to include release of the next Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) notice of funding opportunity at the end of December or in early January as originally planned.
The bill now moves to the Senate, where there is support for the measure from both parties. The CR did not include any notable policy changes or spending cuts. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he will try to get the CR passed quickly, before this Friday’s deadline and next week’s Thanksgiving holiday.
Pennsylvania’s Keystone State Railroad Association (KSRRA) and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) are the latest organizations to share their support for the Short Line Railroad Relief Act, H.R. 3782.
KSRRA sent a letter to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Ranking Member Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) calling for the bill to be passed. In the letter, KSRRA Executive Director Tommy Sankey describes the need for such a program and how it would provide crucial support to small railroads in the aftermath of a natural disaster or other emergency event. KSRRA and AASHTO join 13 other organizations, including ASLRRA, in support of H.R. 3782.
The bill currently has bipartisan support, with 22 cosponsors. ASLRRA’s government affairs team continues to advocate for the bill and encourage members of Congress to work to advance the measure. Learn more about ASLRRA’s disaster relief efforts here.
Although Veterans Day has passed, November is still National Veterans and Military Families Month, and ASLRRA wants to keep its members’ efforts to recognize members of the Armed Forces at the forefront of conversation.
Throughout October and beginning of November, the Association has featured the stories of finalists for this past year’s Veterans Engagement Award, who have worked to support U.S. service members through recruitment, hiring and mentorship efforts, community outreach, donations and volunteer work. Those stories are now included on the Association’s ASLRRA Members Supporting Veterans webpage, along with some pictures submitted with award nomination packages.
ASLRRA continues to welcome nominations for the Association’s Veterans Engagement Award. Some members have already submitted their nomination packages using the online form. The winning company will be recognized and celebrated during the opening General Session at ASLRRA’s Annual Conference and Exhibition in Kansas City, Missouri in March. Award finalists and the award winner will also be recognized in ASLRRA’s industry communications and social media posts.
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.
This week, Fred Oelsner traveled to Annapolis, Maryland to participate in meetings of the Association of American Railroads (AAR) Rail Security Working Group and Rail Information Security Committees, and the Annual Rail Industry Tabletop Exercise they jointly host. Oelsner will also be participating in the quarterly meeting of the Surface Transportation Security Advisory Committee, which is being held virtually on Nov. 16.
Sarah Yurasko attended the Association of Transportation Law Professionals’ Fall Transportation Forum on Nov. 13 at Surface Transportation Board (STB) headquarters in Washington, D.C. The forum allows transportation professionals to interact with regulators and experts and hear from them on legal and commercial issues involving freight transportation.
Today, Richard Sherman was at a meeting held by the Rail Electrification Council of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA). He attended the meeting’s morning session, which included stakeholder remarks from Doc Claussen of ASLRRA member Gulf & Ohio Railways.
Jo Strang was at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign yesterday and today for the Railroad Environmental Conference. The conference features presentations on all aspects of railroad environmental topics, such as permitting and planning, incident management and sustainability. Chris Barkan, who spoke at ASLRRA’s Eastern and Southern Region Meeting in Lexington, was the event host, and several Association member representatives attended.
Danialle Lovik was at BNSF’s Information Technology Center in Fort Worth, Texas for Esri’s North American GIS Rail Summit. Participants learned about all the ways geographic information system (GIS) technology is revolutionizing rail data and celebrated GIS Day, which is today.
Tomorrow, Chuck Baker will join Association of American Railroads President and CEO Ian Jefferies and Railway Association of Canada President and CEO Marc Brazeau in a state of the industry fireside chat at the RailTrends conference in New York City.
Join us for this popular presentation by the Alaska Railroad, originally presented during ASLRRA's joint committee meeting in Anchorage earlier in 2023. Attendees will learn how to build a successful drone program for their organization, based on insight, tips and lessons learned from Alaska Railroad's Director of Signal & Telecom, Joe Carlton. Registered attendees will have an opportunity to participate in Q&A at the end of the presentation.
ASLRRA members can learn about federal regulations concerning drug and alcohol testing, requirements for CDL drivers and more by accessing the Association’s recorded webinars. The following titles can be found in ASLRRA’s On-Demand Webinar Library:
Visit ASLRRA’s webinar homepage to view these on-demand offerings and many more in the Association’s webinar library.
Click here to learn more about our education offerings.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) will hold its second annual Rail Share event Nov. 28 to 29 in Kansas City, Missouri. The two-day forum is free for participants.
This year’s Rail Share will feature presentations, panel discussions, question and answer sessions and keynote addresses, all meant to enhance understanding of industry initiatives and enable sharing of safety best practices. A tentative agenda includes representatives from the FRA, NASA, CN and Amtrak. Follow this link to register for the event.
Click here for a calendar of industry events.
Views & News is published by American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association.
Please contact Amy Krouse, editor, with questions or comments.