Views & News - November 22, 2023

Views & News


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ASLRRA Wishes Everyone a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

As a reminder, our offices are closed Nov. 23 and 24.


Issue Highlights:

Regulatory – ASLRRA comments respond to EPA proposed emissions reporting rule; New FRA safety advisory focuses on reducing weather-related accidents

Legislative – Twenty organizations, including ASLRRA, sign letter to Congress concerning increased truck weight and length

New Members – ASLRRA welcomes new member Independent Electric Machinery Co.

Announcements – Railroad revenue reports due to ASLRRA by Dec. 1

ASLRRA Events – Register now for ASLRRA’s Annual Conference and Exhibition

Out and About – Staff visits Amtrak to learn about Wi-Tronix systems

Industry News and Events – NDASA training includes oral fluid testing course; SLSI publishes new safety tip



ASLRRA Announces New and Outgoing Board Members After Regional Meeting

ASLRRA welcomes several new board members who were elected at the Eastern and Southern Regional Meeting, and thanks outgoing members for their service to the Association.

Indiana Rail Road Company President and CEO Dewayne Swindall and Patriot Rail Vice President, Commercial Development-Mergers and Acquisitions James Kornas, Jr. are incoming Eastern Region board members. Regional Rail Vice President of Marketing and Sales Chris Spiceland joins as a Southern Region board member, replacing Watco Senior Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer Laura McNichol who was elected to the board’s Executive Committee as the large railroad holding company representative.

The Association thanks outgoing Eastern Region board member New York New Jersey Rail Managing Director Don Hutton for his dedicated work.



ASLRRA Comments Address EPA Emissions Reporting Requirements Proposed Rule

ASLRRA has submitted comments in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule concerning revisions to air emissions reporting requirements. In particular, ASLRRA’s comments respond to the EPA’s proposal to formalize the emissions reporting requirement for railyards.

In the rule, the EPA proposes two options for states to report railyard air emission data. ASLRRA recommends the agency adopt the second option, which would allow states to review and approve data reports provided by the EPA and based on industry-collected data. The Association notes that this second approach would avoid inconsistencies resulting from individual state reporting requirements.

The EPA also proposes a reporting option requiring railroads to submit emissions information directly to the agency, which the EPA acknowledges would impose more requirements. ASLRRA asks that the EPA not advance this option, as doing so would require EPA to calculate the burden to small businesses, provide regulatory relief and consider less burdensome alternatives for small businesses (short line railroads) as required under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act.


FRA Safety Advisory Focuses on Reducing Weather-Related Accidents and Incidents

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has issued a new safety advisory concerning predictive weather modeling and ways railroads can work to prevent weather-related accidents and incidents.

The advisory offers six recommendations to railroads, several of which suggest reviewing plans, policies and procedures related to employee communication and training, weather forecasting and weather-related action plans. The FRA also advises railroads to work with each other to understand and streamline weather-related rules, policies, procedures, and weather-related action plans across the industry.

The FRA notes that since the beginning of 2021, the agency has received 123 rail accident and incident reports where the accident or incident was caused in whole or in part by severe weather conditions or weather-related events. With the advisory, the FRA hopes to reduce weather-related accidents and incidents and improve efficiency of the national rail network during extreme weather events.

ASLRRA features copies of important industry safety notices on its alerts, reports and advisories website. Find the most recent FRA safety advisory as well as FRA safety bulletins and notifications from the Fatality Analysis of Maintenance-of-Way Employees and Signalmen (FAMES) committee, the Switching and Operations Fatality Analysis (SOFA) Working Group and the Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS). The Association also offers disaster preparedness and response resources to members. This includes plans for natural disasters and extreme weather events as well as recorded webinars and other important links.


Letter from ASLRRA Asks Washington UTC to Reject Petition for Train Crew Rule

ASLRRA has filed a letter with the state of Washington’s Utilities and Transportation Commission in response to a petition from SMART Transportation that the commission issue a rule regarding required experience for new railroad train crew employees.

ASLRRA calls on the commission to deny the petition, which the Association argues is preempted by federal law under the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA). In the letter, ASLRRA outlines how SMART Transportation’s suggested rule would regulate minimum qualifications for train conductors or locomotive engineers, something that is already comprehensively regulated by the Federal Railroad Administration under 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 240, 242 and 243.




STB Issues Decision in Favor of ASLRRA Member in Massachusetts

In a unanimous decision, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) has issued a declaratory order in favor of ASLRRA member Grafton and Upton Railroad (GURR), finding that certain actions by the town of Hopedale, Massachusetts are preempted under the U.S. Code.  ASLRRA issued two amicus briefs on behalf of GURR, supporting the railroad’s petition with both the district court and the STB.

The Town of Hopedale had used eminent domain to take approximately 130 acres of GURR’s land on which the railroad had planned to construct a transload facility and related rail facilities. The Hopedale Conservation Commission had also issued an order prohibiting GURR from constructing facilities on the property without permits from the commission. GURR filed for an injunction with the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts to stop the town’s actions, and later petitioned the STB for a declaratory order according to an order from the district court.


Department of Energy Issues Request for Information Concerning Rail Sector Decarbonization

A request for information (RFI) issued by the Department of Energy (DOE) is seeking information from those in the rail sector concerning alternative propulsion technology advancement and achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

The RFI, titled “Progression to Net-Zero Emission Propulsion Technologies for the Rail Sector,” puts forth 17 questions meant to help the DOE understand the most promising alternative rail propulsion technologies and a feasible timeline for the rail sector to transition to net-zero emission technologies. Some of the specific propulsion technologies under consideration for the RFI include biodiesel, ammonia, ethanol and more for transitional, interim use until 2030, and hydrogen fuel cells, direct electrification and batteries for mid- to long-term use.

Responses to the RFI must be submitted as an attachment to an email and are due by Jan. 12. The RFI includes specific guidelines for the submissions.



ASLRRA Joins Letter to Agricultural Committee Leaders Concerning Truck Weight and Length Limits

ASLRRA joined 19 other organizations in a letter to leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees calling on them to reject inclusion in the farm bill of any language that would increase maximum truck weight or length limits on federal highways.

The letter notes that while Congress included a clean year-long extension of the farm bill in the most recent continuing resolution, work continues developing a longer-term farm bill. As lawmakers craft the bill, ASLRRA and others urge them to oppose language allowing heavier and longer trucks, including through so-called “pilot programs.” Such trucks would cause further damage to roads and bridges, many of which are already in need of repair.

Other organizations signing the letter include the Association of American Railroads, National League of Cities, The United States Conference of Mayors, International Brotherhood of Teamsters and Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.


Other Legislative Work Advances as Lawmakers Leave DC for the Holiday

Capitol Hill is quiet as members of the House of Representatives and Senate have left town for Thanksgiving after having passed a new continuing resolution to fund the government until next year. In the meantime, ASLRRA’s government affairs team continues to address short line industry priorities, including advocating for H.R. 3782, the Short Line Railroad Relief Act, and preparing for the release of the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) funding notification in the next few weeks.

Also a focus for ASLRRA staff is continuing to engage with lawmakers’ offices on pending rail safety legislation, working on identifying resources for members’ emissions reduction projects and pursuing efforts to secure resources in the Farm Bill for shippers to better access the rail network.


New Members


Know a company that would benefit from joining and participating in ASLRRA? Please contact ASLRRA’s Senior Vice President of Membership and Business Development Kathy Keeney via email or on (202) 585-3439.

ASLRRA Welcomes Independent Electric Machinery Co. as Associate Business Member

Independent Electric Machinery Co., based in Kansas City, Kansas, has been helping industry run reliably since 1908. IE offers a variety of railroad services, including traction motor repair, generator repair, grid fan, and cooling fan repair - and offers core exchange programs as well as repair and return service. VP-Marketing Andy Launder is our primary contact and can be reached on (913) 362-1155. Learn more about them at their booth at our annual conference & exhibition in Kansas City next March. Many thanks to our friends at Watco for recommending that they join our Association.




ASLRRA Drug and Alcohol Education Materials



Railroad Revenue Reports Due to ASLRRA by Dec. 1

In preparation for 2024 annual membership dues invoicing, the Association is reminding its freight railroad members to send in their gross operating revenue figures. Those 2022 numbers are used to calculate full member dues.

An email was sent to members requesting this information by Dec. 1. Please reach out to Senior Vice President of Membership and Business Development Kathy Keeney if you did not receive the email.


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 discussing Part 219, including “Part 219 Education Materials and Correction Affidavits,” “Overview on the Expanded Scope of Part 219,” “Drug & Alcohol Rules & Regulations” and “The DOT's New Oral Fluid Testing Final Rule – What Do Employers Need to Know?”, all available free to members in ASLRRA’s On-Demand Webinar library.


Discount Program Offers Products and Services at Preferred Pricing

The money saved using ASLRRA’s Member Discount Program Preferred Providers could pay for annual dues and then some. ASLRRA’s Member Discount Program leverages the buying power of all association members to secure discounted pricing on essential business products and services.

From personal protective equipment and railroad tie inspections to drug and alcohol testing programs and grant writing services, ASLRRA’s Discount Program Partners have you covered. Visit for details and start saving today!

Join ASLRRA’s Member Discount Program as a Preferred Provider

ASLRRA is seeking to add new products and services to its Member Discount Program offerings and wants to hear from its members. The program is open exclusively to ASLRRA associate members who are committed to providing exceptional service along with volume discounts to short line railroads.

Preferred Providers benefit from a broad range of marketing/promotional activities, including visibility on ASLRRA’s website and in print and electronic communications. Please contact Sabrina Waiss for more information on becoming a Preferred Provider.



Register Now for ASLRRA’s Annual Conference in Kansas City

Registration has opened for ASLRRA’s Annual Conference and Exhibition, taking place March 24 to 26 in Kansas City, Missouri.

ASLRRA staff and committee members are hard at work putting together the robust education schedule members have come to expect from the short line industry’s premier event. Sales of exhibit hall booths and event sponsorships are also underway, and the exhibition once again promises to be an important networking hub for conference attendees.

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.

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 either connected to or a short walk from the convention center.

While there are still prime spots available for purchase in the exhibit hall, those companies not interested in a booth may want to consider a conference sponsorship. ASLRRA sponsorship options include a wide range of opportunities to fit nearly every budget.

More details about exhibit booth and sponsorship sales are available from Kathy Keeney on (202) 585-3439 or by clicking here.


Out and About

Staff Visits Amtrak Facility to Learn About Wi-Tronix System Implementation


Fred Oelsner, Cameron Downs and Richard Sherman joined Chad Jasmin of ASLRRA member company Wi-Tronix for a field tour of Amtrak’s Ivy City Maintenance Facility in Washington, D.C., where they learned about Amtrak’s implementation of cutting-edge on-board technology systems on their locomotive fleets.

Amtrak’s Senior Manager of Equipment Engineering for Electric Locomotives Ricky Rose and Senior Electrical Engineer Amanda Stewart hosted the group, showing them the implementation of systems, including Wi-Tronix’s Violet, in various diesel and electric locomotive models. The group also learned about the systems’ condition monitoring and reporting and event recording functions, and the Wi-Tronix backend systems and the interface with Amtrak’s enterprise operational and mechanical IT systems. 


Staff Shorts – Who is Where in the Railroad World

Jo Strang participated in a virtual Small Business Labor Safety Roundtable with the Small Business Administration (SBA) featuring a discussion of several Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) issues. Also provided during the meeting was a retrospective of OSHA’s recent small business advocacy review panel, in which ASLRRA and ASLRRA member Farmrail participated.


ASLRRA Annual Conference



Upcoming Webinars

Building a Successful Drone Program – November 29, 2023

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.


On-Demand Webinars

ASLRRA’s Recorded Legal Webinars Cover a Variety of Topics

The legal category in ASLRRA’s On-Demand Webinar Library includes several presentations by subject-matter experts. Look for the following titles:

  • Section 889: Protecting the Security of the Railroad Supply Chain
  • Encroachments & Trespass: On the Railroad, It's All About Property
  • Utility Crossings and Broadband Deployment
  • Concerns Over Utility Crossings of Railroad Tracks

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.


Industry News and Events

Nov. 28 and Dec. 6-7 – NDASA Regional Training Includes Oral Fluid Testing Course

The National Drug and Alcohol Screening Association (NDASA) will hold two regional trainings that include the organization’s final two oral fluid training courses for this year. Follow each link below for more information and to register.

One training takes place Nov. 28 in Cincinnati, Ohio and includes two educational sessions on the new U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) oral fluids rule and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) clearinghouse updates. There is also a train-the-trainer course on the DOT’s oral fluids testing rule.

The second training takes place Dec. 6 to 7 in Phoenix, Arizona. The first day includes the train-the-trainer course and seminars on the oral fluid rule and avoiding liability in drug testing programs, while the second day features designated employer representative (DER) compliance training.


Dec. 4 – EPA to Hold Webinar on Applying for Competitive Grants – Including Those for Diesel Emissions Reduction

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is offering a webinar for those looking to apply for an EPA competitive grant. The webinar is meant to help potential applicants find and successfully apply for EPA grants.

Several EPA grants provide funding for transportation emissions reduction projects, including for locomotive refurbishment and replacement. These include Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) grants, for which the application period closes Dec. 1.

The webinar is free but registration is required. Follow this link to register for the webinar.


New Short Line Safety Institute Safety Tip Focuses on Winter Preparedness

In its November Safety Tip, the Short Line Safety Institute (SLSI) discusses winter work preparedness, focusing on efforts to protect employees from frostbite and hypothermia.

The Safety Tip defines both frostbite and hypothermia and offers tips to help workers reduce the risk of both injuries, including wearing proper gloves, footwear and headgear and ensuring scarves are worn in such a way that they will not get caught in rotating equipment.

SLSI publishes Safety Tips and Hazmat Safety Tips that railroads can incorporate in safety briefings, post in the workplace or otherwise distribute to employees. Find all SLSI’s Safety Tips here.


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.