«Short Line Safety Institute Hiring Additional Assessors to Meet Demand During the month of May, the Short Line Safety Institute (SLSI) was actively ...»
May 25, 2016
Short Line Safety Institute Hiring Additional Assessors to Meet Demand
During the month of May, the Short Line Safety Institute (SLSI) was actively following up on interest generated by
outreach activities at 2016 CONNECTIONS. SLSI will complete two assessments this month, with additional
assessments confirmed for June. In addition, SLSI conducted extensive training for assessors and other personnel
during the week of May 2nd. During the training, improvements were made to the assessment and the report development processes. SLSI is currently receiving applications for additional safety culture assessors. The assessors are an important asset to SLSI structure, and with a growing staff of experts more railroads will be able to participate with us in efforts to improve safety culture. For updates please visit shortlinesafety.org.
Passing of a Former ASLRRA Board Member Noted Former ASLRRA Board member Jeffrey E. Forbis passed away peacefully on Friday, May 13, with his family at his side. He was 65 years old. Click here to read the full announcement.
Mr. Forbis made an impact on short lines in California and on the national stage by serving on the ASLRRA board of directors as a board member and as Pacific Region Vice President. He also served on ASLRRA’s Legislative Policy Committee as well as the Strategic Review Committee that led to the merger of ASLRA and RRA. Both his daughter, Jalene, and his son, Troy, followed in his railroading footsteps and worked with him on their familyowned California short line, later moving on to continue their careers with other railroad endeavors.
ASLRRA Recognizes Innovative Marketing Initiatives Four ASLRRA members were recognized this year for their efforts in designing and enacting innovative and successful marketing initiatives in the challenging small railroad industry.
“The four railroads we honored for the 2015 work are risk takers in the very best sense of the word. They work daily to bring new customers to their lines with reliable connections, creative use of real estate assets and flexible service offerings. And in the end, they keep small towns and small shippers connected to the national railroad system,” says ASLRRA President Linda Darr. “Their success is the result of a commitment to never standing still and never fearing change.” The Nittany & Bald Eagle (NBER) and Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad (BPRR) partnered with Norfolk Southern to move pelletized lime from Graymont Lime at Pleasant Gap, Pennsylvania, to the Homer City Generating Station at Homer City, Pennsylvania, as part of the facility’s evolution from one of the nation’s dirtiest coal-fired power plants to a model of how such shops can economically cut pollution.
The three railroads cover the 190-mile haul with 45-car trains operating on a 3 ½-day schedule. These trains operate under a long-term transportation contract and will deliver more than 3,000 cars annually of pelletized lime to Homer City.
Indiana Rail Road Company (INRD) partnered with Canadian National (CN) to provide direct intermodal service from the West Coast, extending its intermodal markets into southern Indiana and the Ohio Valley.
The INRD invested $2.5 million to upgrade facilities, including construction of a two-track intermodal pad, each track measuring 1,400 feet, and a five acre container yard at its Senate Avenue Terminal. This bonded facility is open six days a week and is within a day’s drive of 80% of U.S. consumers. Containers move from Shanghai, China, to Indianapolis via the Port of Prince Rupert, British Columbia in 21.5 days on average. This is the fastest overall transit time in the industry.
Volume has shattered expectations: 12,563 containers were handled in 2014, the first full year of service; 17,233 containers moved in 2015; 18,000 are expected in 2016.
Reading & Northern (RBMN)’s latest “Rapid Response” example is the railroad’s onboarding of the Old Forge Warehouse near Scranton, Pennsylvania. The rehabilitation project was completed in a four week period to meet the growing needs of a wood pulp customer servicing a large paper mill, also on the RBMN line. The warehouse needed to be located where the wood pulp could be delivered on a next-day basis.
The Old Forge Warehouse operation, which includes an inventory control system linked to the customer, is controlled, managed and staffed by Reading & Northern employees. Over 350 carloads were handled during the first six months of operation.
Legislative Update Senate Approves THUD Spending Bill; No Truck Size or Weight Increases Included!
The Senate voted 89-8 to pass its multi-billion dollar transportation spending bill (“THUD”) late last week.
ASLRRA’s Washington team has been watching the passage of the spending bills closely, with attention now turning to the House version (H.R. 2577) for fiscal 2017, which is scheduled to proceed to full committee for mark up this week.
Co-Sponsorship of BRACE Act for Multi-Year Tax Credit Increases
The Building Rail Access for Customers and the Economy (BRACE) Act continues to build support in Congress to make the Section 45G tax credit permanent. As of today, the House bill, H.R. 4626, has 94 co-sponsors. The Senate bill, S. 2595, has 21 co-sponsors. Please visit ASLRRA’s web page for more information by clicking here.
There are less than 55 calendar days until July 15 when Congress goes on an extended recess. The goal of ASLRRA’s Legislative Policy Committee is to secure as many co-sponsors as we can before that date. When they return after the recess, it will be election season which normally means additional co-sponsorship is less likely. If you have not yet contacted your Representatives and Senators to urge them to co-sponsor the BRACE Act, please do so today. If you’d like assistance reaching out to your elected officials, please contact Ashley Bosch at 202-638-7790.
Regulatory UpdateOvertime Rule Changes Published by Department of Labor
The Department of Labor issued a new rule that updates the regulations determining which white-collar, salaried employees are entitled to the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage and overtime pay protections. The rule increases the salary threshold below which most white-collar, salaried workers are entitled to overtime from the current $455 per week (or $23,660 for a full-year worker) to $913 per week (or $47,476 for a full-year worker). A link to the small business compliance guide can be found here.
SBA Office of Advocacy Issues Comments on FMCSA’s Proposed Carrier Safety Fitness Determination Rule The Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy has published a public comment letter (along with a onepage fact sheet summarizing the letter) filed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on FMCSA’s Proposed Carrier Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) Rule. A small business roundtable discussion on FMCSA’s proposed rule took place on May 5, 2016, which included representatives from FMCSA. The comments reflect some of the issues and concerns raised during the roundtable discussion. Click here to view the fact sheet and here to read the public comment letter.
Appellate Court Says Amtrak Cannot Put Their Own Interests Above Freight Railroads The Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA) gave Amtrak the power to participate in setting metrics and standards which the freight railroads must meet to accommodate the on time performance of Amtrak trains that operate over their rights-of-way. In April the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia held that delegating that power to Amtrak is an unconstitutional violation of the Due Process Clause of the Constitution. According to the Court of Appeals it violates due process for Congress to give a self-interested entity rulemaking authority over its competitors. In this instance Amtrak is competing with its Class I host railroads for scarce track time. Granting the power to participate in setting standards which Amtrak’s competitors must follow to increase Amtrak’s on-time performance at the cost of their own performance is in Amtrak’s self-interest.
Therefore, it fits the definition of a self-interested competitor and cannot fairly set standards or regulations over its competition. This decision comes after the US Supreme court previously struck down the Court of Appeals decision in this same case that Amtrak cannot set regulations because it is a profit making entity, not a government entity.
The Supreme Court said that it could be both, and sent the case back to the Court of Appeals for further review.
In this decision the Court of Appeals argues that even if Amtrak can be deemed a government agency capable of setting regulations, in this particular instance it cannot do so because it is acting in its self-interest as a competitor, not an unbiased government agency. No doubt the government’s attorneys will ask the Supreme Court to look again at what the Court of Appeals has done. Given that the Supreme Court has determined Amtrak can be a government entity for certain purposes, there is a reasonable chance that it will reject the Court of Appeals logic and again overturn the lower Court of Appeals, finding that it is not a violation of due process to allow Amtrak to participate in metric and standards setting with the FRA over the operations of its Class I competitors.
For now, however, it is constitutionally impermissible for Amtrak to do so.
Railroad Safety and Training Seminar Offered
In cooperation with the Federal Railroad Administration, Farmrail System, Inc. is pleased to host the 2016 Railroad Safety and Training Seminar in Oklahoma City, OK on August 9-11. Key topics include 49 CFR parts 219, 240/242, Rail Integrity and Hazardous Material, presented by FRA experts and qualified carrier safety-training and compliance personnel. Please click here to view more information.
Grass RootsRR Day on Beacon Hill
The members of the Massachusetts Railroad Association (MRA) participated in the annual “RR Day on Beacon Hill” in Boston on May 18th. MRA members met with several state representatives, including Bill Straus, Chairman of the Joint Committee on Transportation.
L to R: John Hahesy (Lobbyist, Pretti Strategies), Charles Hunter (Genesee & Wyoming RR Services, Inc.), Colin Pease (Housatonic RR), Marie Angelini (Providence & Worcester RR), Steve Friedland (Mass Central RR), Paul Ruscio (Fore River RR) and Bernard Reagan (Bay Colony RR).
U.S. Congressman Brownley Tours Ventura County Railroad
On May 3rd, U.S. Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA-26) toured the Ventura County Railroad (VCRR), a short line located in Southwest Ventura County, CA. After a safety briefing, the group went to the Port of Hueneme where they boarded a 1969 VCRR Caboose for a brief trip through Oxnard back to VCCR. Along the way, Clint Ashmead, VCRR VP of Sales and Marketing, and Matt Domen, VCRR General Manager, gave an overview of the Mountain West Region and VCRR operations. Jerry Vest, G&W SVP of Government & Industry Affairs, gave an overview of the importance of short line railroads and their legislative priorities, including the BRACE Act, which Congresswoman Brownley has already co-sponsored. After the caboose trip, the group took a short van ride back to the VCRR office, and the visit concluded. Additional attendees included Kristin Decas, Chief Executive Officer & Director of the Port of Hueneme, CA.
Member NewsMotive Equipment ISO 9001:2008 Certified
ASLRRA Associate Business Member Motive Equipment Inc., a leading manufacturer of superior locomotive cabcomforts products and custom engineered locomotive equipment, is pleased to announce that it has become ISO 9001:2008 Certified in Quality Management Standards (QMS) effective January 13, 2016. Previously M-1003 compliant, MEI continues its efforts to be the leader in cab comfort products providing exceptional quality and timely, responsive customer service. “Our goal is to provide the very best air conditioners, cab heaters, toilets, and other locomotive cab products to our customers” stated Jack Boblick, President of MEI. Founded in 1985, MEI now has over 30 years of experience in the railroad industry.
Strato Receives Prestigious TTX Company Award for 20th Consecutive Year
ASLRRA Associate Business Member Strato, Inc. has received TTX Company’s 2015 SECO (Supplier Evaluation Committee) Award. This marks the 20th consecutive year Strato has received this prestigious award. TTX Company rates suppliers on quality, cost, delivery, service, finance and administration, with the goal of providing the highest quality, most reliable equipment at the lowest cost. TTX is a leading supplier of railcars and related freight car management services to the North American rail industry. Strato manufactures quality products for the rail industry including airbrake hose and components, freight and passenger car parts, castings and fabrications, custom product design and engineering services.
Omnitrax Affiliate to Acquire Heart of Texas Railroad A managed affiliate of OmniTRAX, Inc. will purchase ASLRRA member Heart of Texas Railroad (HTR) from private local investors. The transaction is subject to Surface Transportation Board approval. The rail line, which will be renamed Central Texas & Colorado River Railway, LLC, operates 68 miles of track running due west from Lometa, TX, where it interchanges with BNSF, to Brady, TX. Potential new customers include an aggregate quarry, a cement factory and frac sand producers.
“The Central Texas & Colorado River Railway is a great opportunity for OmniTRAX with at least three good longterm mineral prospects on the line. As a distressed asset that can be turned around with our expertise, it’s right in our sweet spot,” said Kevin Shuba, CEO of OmniTRAX. “We want to thank the sellers for their efforts in starting to implement a restructuring plan and making the closing of the transaction as smooth as possible.”
New York & Atlantic Featured in Business Press