Posts Tagged ‘American Short Line and Regional Railroads Association’

Shorts Urged to Make a Case on Crew Size

November 20, 2021

A key Federal Railroad Administration manager has invited short line and regional railroads to make the case for having crew sizes below the federal minimum.

As reported by Trains magazine, Amit Bose, FRA’s deputy administrator said during a speech to the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association that the agency is considering creating a rule for minimum crew size that will allow for exceptions.

“If you make a safety case, you will be able to go below the crew size that is minimum,”  he said.

Noting that some short lines already operate below minimum crew sizes, Bose said, “If you have a safety case, make it. FRA will listen to it.”

Other rules that the FRA is considering, he said, will address locomotive recording devices, fatigue risk-management plans, and alcohol and drug testing for maintenance of way workers.

A Railroad Safety Advisory Committee may be revived

Michigan Short Line Honored by ASLRRA

September 3, 2021

A Michigan short line railroad is one of four carriers receiving a business development award for excellence in growing traffic in partnership with customers and local economic development authorities.

The Lake State Railway received the honor from the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association.

In a news release, the short line trade association said the award recognizes carriers that have developed a keen understanding of customers’ needs, identified opportunities to grow business, and implemented plans to benefit their customers and communities.

Lake State was recognized for its work in developing transload business at seven sites in Michigan, receiving state grant money for five of them.

House Passes INVEST Act

July 6, 2021

The U.S. House of Representatives approved last week a five year $715 billion surface transportation bill.

Known as Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America Act,, the legislation would authorize  $95 billion for passenger and freight rail, including $32 billion for Amtrak that could be used to pay for existing and new service.

The Association of American Railroads panned the bill, calling it filled with “misguided, divisive policies.”

AAR instead issued a statement lauding a bi-partisan proposal being considered in the Senate.

The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association in a statement said the House bill contains some beneficial provisions for short lines but also contained some “troubling provisions.”

The American Public Transportation Association was more enthusiastic about the INVEST legislation, noting that it authorizes $109 billion for public transportation, which would enable transit systems to begin to address a $105 billion state-of-good-repair backlog as well as provide funding for capital funding for new projects.

Jake Safety Award Winners Named

June 4, 2021

The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association said this week that 346 railroads will receive a Jake Safety Awards with 19 member railroads being recognized as President’s Safety Award winners.

In a news release, ASLRA said the awards recognize members for above-industry average safety performance during 2020.

An ASLRRA member must perform better than the industry average reportable injury frequency rate for railroads other than Class Is, commuter railroads and Amtrak based on data reported to the Federal Railroad Administration. Railroads must have completed all FRA-required employee-on-duty reporting for 2020.

That average industry reportable injury frequency rate for 2020 was 2.18 per 200,000 employee on-duty hours.

President’s Award winners posted the lowest reportable injury frequency rate per FRA regulations as measured within man-hour categories.

The Jake Awards are named for Lowell S. “Jake” Jacobson, the president and general manager of the Copper Basin Railway who pushed to establish the award program named in his honor.

Among the Jake award winners were the Buffalo & Pittsburgh, Evansville Western, Indiana & Ohio, Gary Railway, Indiana Rail Road, Kanawha River, Paducah & Louisville Terminal, and Union Railroad.

President’s award winners included the Columbus & Ohio River Railroad for 150,000 to 250,000 man hours worked, and Gary Railway Company for 250,000 to 500,000 man hours worked.

Railroads Get Truck Driving Hours of Service Exemption

December 24, 2020

Railroads have received an exemption from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to the hours of service law for truck drivers.

The agency granted the exemption because it was “likely to achieve a level of safety equivalent to or greater than the level of safety that would be obtained in the absence of the exemption.”

The exemption will be effective until Dec. 18, 2025.

The request for the exemption had been made by the Association of American Railroads, and American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association.

The trade groups said it was needed to provide flexibility for maintenance workers who need to respond to an emergency

Bill Makes Permanent Short Line Tax Credit

December 23, 2020

The budget and pandemic relief legislation adopted by Congress on Monday night will affect various transportation programs, including short line railroads.

The bill also makes permanent a tax credit for short line and regional railroads.

The credit in question is known as Section 45G and has been used by short lines and regional railroads to pay for infrastructure projects.

The tax credit supports private investment in improving and building infrastructure up to a $3,500 cap per short-line railroad mile.

The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association has long fought to make the credit permanent. Until now, it had been subject to being reauthorized periodically.

The credit was created in 2005 and ASLRA said it has enabled its members to invest more than $5 billion in infrastructure projects, including rebuilding track that had deteriorated due to deferred maintenance and was on the brink of abandonment.

ASLRRA President Chuck Baker said in a statement that making the credit permanent will assure “long-term tax certainty.”

Transportation Trade Groups Seek Priority in COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

December 18, 2020

Trade groups representing railroad workers, public transit agencies and companies that supply the railroad industry are trying to pressure government officials to give some of their workers priority in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine that is now being distributed.

Among those writing letters to federal and state officials have been the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, the Association of American Railroads, the American Public Transportation Association and the Railway Supply Institute.

Trade groups representing various other modes of transportation have also sought priority for their workers.

The groups are citing  a guideline of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices that essential workers, including those in transportation, be included in the second priority group or Phase 1b of the vaccine distribution.

Highest priority (Phase 1a) is being given to health care workers and others such as those working in nursing homes.

Some of the letters being written by the transportation trade associations have been sent senators on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and Transportation and Safety Subcommittee to request “timely access” to the vaccine.

APTA has written to all state governors “urging them to consider prioritizing transit workers as they develop their vaccination distribution plans.”

In its statement, RSI said those working for railway suppliers should be among the early recipient groups vaccine because of their supporting role for passenger and freight railroads “as they deliver people, food, fuel, medicine, and other supplies that have sustained our nation’s pandemic response and economic recovery.”

2 Pa. Short Lines Get Safety Awards

August 29, 2020

Two Pennsylvania short line railroads have received President’s Safety Awards from the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association.

Honored in the eastern region were the Buffalo & Pittsburgh,  and the York Railway Company.

The awards recognize railroads that achieved the lowest accident frequency rate based on 2019 Federal Railroad Administration data that is categorized based on the number of injury-free man hours worked.

Winners of the award will be recognized during the ASLRRA’s virtual Connections convention to be held Oct. 5-9.

3 Short Lines Lauded for Business Development

July 10, 2020

The efforts of three Midwest short line railroads to grow new business have been honored by a trade organization representing the short line industry.

The three, which were recognized for their efforts to develop new business, are the Ann Arbor Railroad, the Indiana Rail Road and the Reading, Blue Mountain & Northern.

They along with a Delaware-based carrier were winners of the 2020 Business Development Awards from the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association.

The Ann Arbor Railroad’s efforts to create an auto distribution center grew out of an analysis of auto sales and production trends in Toledo.

That review found a need for additional capacity in the finished vehicle distribution network, particularly for sport utility vehicles and trucks.

The Ann Arbor created a partnership with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to build a distribution center in Toledo that opened in time for the July 2019 launch of the Jeep Gladiator model.

The Silver Creek distribution facility was the Ann Arbor’s fifth vehicle distribution center in Toledo.

Located on 20 acres, the facility has a 12-car rail spot and can accommodate a 90-car autorack train in support of FCA’s Toledo and Detroit assembly production with a daily 1,800-car throughput capacity.

In 2018, the Ann Arbor began using its Temperance yard in Toledo as a dedicated finished vehicle distribution center.

The yard had been used for transloading and mechanical projects but lacked significant volume.

Ann Arbor owner Watco said the distribution center played a key role in reducing FCA’s costs and maintaining its vehicles in Toledo.

That enabled work to remain in Toledo that FCA might have moved elsewhere.

The Indiana Rail Road was recognized for its work with an Indianapolis-based trucking company, Venture Logistics, to build a 406,000 square-foot distribution center in Indianapolis.

Opened in 2016, the facility with its 58 truck docks and 15 indoor rail car spots, has doubled its volume since 2017 to 2,600 carloads.

INRD CEO Pete Mills said the warehouse is a valuable asset in an era in which Class 1 railroads are practicing precision scheduled railroading and seeking to turn freight cars quickly to avoid demurrage payments.

“We can provide service six days a week and turn equipment fast with no demurrage bills,” Mills said.

The dry warehouse initially handled mostly rolled or cut stock paper, but has since expanded into food and building products, and engines and metals.

Venture provided $20 million to build the warehouse while INRD spent less than $1 million for track infrastructure.

The warehouse business has enabled INRD to broaden its traffic base beyond coal, which for many years was the short line’s primary traffic.

“We love coal, but that business is in jeopardy,” Mills said.

In Pennsylvania, the RBN&N undertook a project of providing more transloading services as a way to better serve existing shippers and attract new ones.

The railroad created new transloading facilities in West Hazleton and Ransom, and launched a trucking company that serves all four of its transload facilities.

These facilities enabled RBM&N to pick up 900 new carloads last year, which helped the short line handle a record 34,000-plus carloads for a year-over-year traffic growth of 6 percent.

RBMN purchased a former Proctor and Gamble warehouse in Ransom in October 2018. At 80,000 square feet, it’s three times larger than the railroad’s previous transload facility in the area.

CEO Any Muller said his company prefers not to lease facilities because “a lease is just throwing dollars out the window.”

He said the RBM&N has been transloading for 30 years “and it can be a big part of business, but it’s hard to accomplish. There is lots of competition.”

The Ransom facility serves five customers, handling bales of wood pulp.

The West Hazleton facility , which opened in November 2019, handles steel coils for one customer but could generate 440 carloads per year.

The short line created its own trucking company to serve its transload facilities, which enables it to provide customers with timelier and more seamless services.

Short Line Group Event to Move Online

May 29, 2020

The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association’s 2020 Connections Convention will be held online this year.

The event has earlier been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic but will now be a virtual event held Oct. 5-9.

The event has originally been scheduled for early May in Grapevine, Texas.

Scheduled speakers are being reconfirmed, but are expected to include Federal Railroad Adminstration head Ronald L. Batory and Howard “Skip” Elliott, head of the Pipline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.