«Grain is a Bright Spot in August Carload Traffic According to AAR’s Rail Time Indicators, total August 2016 carloads were 269,598, a 6.6% drop over ...»
September 14, 2016
Grain is a Bright Spot in August Carload Traffic
According to AAR’s Rail Time Indicators, total August 2016 carloads were 269,598, a 6.6% drop over the same 31
day period in 2015. The 2016 YTD total of 8,668,572 carloads is also down by over 12% compared to the same
eight month period last year. Intermodal shipments look slightly better, with a drop in traffic of 4.8% in August
2016 compared with August 2015, and a YTD drop of just over 3%. Grain is a rare bright spot, with an increase of 24.7% in August 2016 compared with August 2015, and a 4.9% rise for the year. More than half of our member railroads haul grain. Coke, motor vehicles and chemicals are also up. On the other end of the spectrum, coal (and petroleum (-25.1%) saw significant downturns in August, with both commodities showing more than 20% declines YTD.
ASLRRA Regional Meetings Begin with Eastern Region in Indianapolis ASLRRA’s Fall 2016 program of Regional Meetings kicked off on Monday with just over 200 attendees at the Eastern Region Meeting, September 12-14 at the Sheraton City Center Hotel in Indianapolis, IN. Eastern Region meeting attendees are enjoying an action-packed agenda with education offerings and takeaways built upon three core areas of focus: Safety and Training; Legislative and Regulatory; and Marketing and Business Development. This year’s spotlight on Safety Culture was particularly bright yesterday with an extended morning workshop on developing a safety culture action plan and an extended afternoon discussion, case study and role play exercise on communicating about safety in real life situations. Marketing and Business Development sessions were also popular with roundtable discussions on coping with a limited supply of boxcars; filling the “coal gap” with other carload business; and using social media as a business development tool. An in-depth examination of changes to the Drug & Alcohol Rule presented by Jerry Powers, A/D Program Manager, Federal Railroad Administration and additional roundtable discussions on legislative and regulatory issues round out the program today. Especially in 2016, you won’t want to miss out on the opportunity to review the Drug & Alcohol Rule at the Regional Meetings.
Southern Region Meeting - Early Bird Rates Expire September 19!
Register before September 19 to save $50 on your registration fee and be sure to make your hotel reservations before the block expires on October 3. This year’s meeting agenda includes a relevant and valuable railroaders-only Operations Track with sessions such as Reducing Track-Caused Derailments, presented by Dr.
Duane Otter, Principal Engineer, Transportation Technology Center, Inc. This session will include an overview of derailments where track was a contributing factor, and will provide practical guidance for how to avoid trackcaused derailments on your railroad. Visit our website today to learn more about the Southern Region Meeting agenda which includes a full morning session beginning with an introduction to the Safety Culture Assessment process and an interactive workshop on creating a safety culture action plan to take home and share with colleagues.
ASLRRA Webinar: Understanding Financials for the Non-Financial Railroader On Tuesday, September 20, from 1:00 - 2:00 PM EDT, join Bowers & Company’s Joe Mocciaro, CPA, CMA, for the first in a series of financial webinars that will provide a basic understanding of Financial Statements and techniques for extracting important operational and financial information from reports. A review of Balance Sheets, Income Statements and Cash Flows will highlight how these 3 statements interact with each other. The registration fee is $25 for ASLRRA Members and $49 for Non-Members.
ASLRRA Webinar: Part II - PTC Planning and Implementation Guide On Wednesday, September 28, from 12:45 - 2:00 PM EDT, join Bob Gutzman (ARINC) for an overview of the Rockwell Collins ARINC - FRA PTC Planning and Implementation Guide. This guide is being developed under an FRA grant entitled “Implementation of the Shared PTC Network and User Support”. Bill Everett (ARINC) will review the PTC Planning and Implementation Guide and highlight specific short line railroad guidance within the document.
Participants will have an opportunity to ask questions of FRA and ARINC subject matter experts. This webinar is FREE for all ASLRRA members as well as non-member railroads. Facilitated by Jo Strang, ASLRRA’s VP, Safety & Regulatory Policy.
The Short Line Safety Institute is Hiring!
SLSI has an available position for a qualified “Report Writing Facilitator.” The successful candidate will have knowledge of the rail industry and rail safety, as well as professionalism and strong ethics needed to manage the sensitivity of the materials and report writing process. Please contact SLSI’s Michele Malski with questions or expressions of interest. For more information see the job description on SLSI’s Facebook Page!
Legislative Update We currently have 492 customers, representing 1410 facilities, signed on to “Saving Our Service”. Help us reach our goal of 1,000 companies by asking your customers to sign on. ASLRRA’s webinar archive includes materials and tips on how to recruit customers to endorse the BRACE Act, H.R. 4626 and S. 2595. The recording is available here. We encourage you to share this link as a primer on why 45G is important, and ask customers to support it!
The ASLRRA Legislative Policy Committee has done tremendous work to secure cosponsors for the BRACE Act. H.R.
4626 now has 184 official cosponsors and in the Senate, S. 2595 has 45 – just 5 shy of achieving a majority.
Regulatory Update Surface Transportation Board Releases Revenue Adequacy Report The Surface Transportation Board (STB) has announced its annual determination of revenue adequacy for U.S.
Class I freight railroads for 2015. A railroad is considered to be revenue-adequate if it achieves a rate of return on net investment equal to at least the current cost of capital for the railroad industry, which for 2015 the Board determined to be 9.61%. STB found that four of the Class I’s, BNSF Railway Co., Grand Trunk Corp. (CN), Soo Line Corp. (CP), and Union Pacific Railroad Co. were revenue-adequate for 2015. Congress directed the Board to conduct such revenue adequacy determinations on an annual basis.
Surface Transportation Board Website Moves to New Address
The Surface Transportation Board (STB) website has moved. You’ll want to bookmark this new link and visit frequently for updates and announcements from the Board. Email addresses for agency personnel will be migrated to the @stb.gov suffix in the near future. Click here to view the STB website and see recent updates and announcements.
Federal Railroad Administration Announces Award of $25 million in Grant Funds for Grade Crossing Improvement and Other Projects The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced on September 12 the awarding of $25 million in grants to increase safety at railroad crossings, train stations, and tracks across the United States. A total of 23 projects in 14 states and the District of Columbia received funding. The Railroad Safety Infrastructure Improvement Grants fund safety improvements to railroad infrastructure, including the acquisition, improvement, or rehabilitation of intermodal facilities; improvements to track, bridges, rail yards, and tunnels; upgrades to railroad crossings; and the separation of railroad crossings and roads.
Several ASLRRA member railroads were rewarded for their efforts to secure funding for a variety of safety improvement projects.
Indiana Rail Road Co. in Indiana received $129,537 to make improvements at 321 grade crossings in 10 Indiana and Illinois counties by clearing trees, brush, and other vegetation from 201 railroad highway grade crossings and installing grade crossing warning signs that include stop signs at 120 private road crossings intersecting with the Indiana Rail Road.
Finger Lakes Railway in New York was awarded $500,000 to widen the track centers of Solvay Auburn Yard tracks in the Town of Geddes, along with realigning the yard ladder track and repositioning the switches to improve safe walking conditions between the yard tracks. The removal of track 4 in the Solvay Auburn Yard will provide the space for widening the track centers and include a road through the entire yard, which will address current concerns that access for emergency vehicles is restricted by close clearances and a narrow road. Finger Lakes Railway also plans to add lighting along the north side of the yard for improved visibility.
San Luis Central Railroad in Illinois will receive $442,887 to upgrade 2.15 miles of a 13.2-mile system, resulting in a total of 7.5 miles of 90-pound rail upgraded to Class I standards, capable of operating 280,000-pound rail cars along San Luis Central Railroad's main line between Vastine and Ansel stations in Rio Grande County, CO.
The South Carolina Department of Commerce, SC Public Railways, which operates several short lines, was awarded $328,707 to upgrade seven grade crossings that serve several industries, including the South Carolina Port Authority in North Charleston. These upgrades include signals, gates, and improvements at seven tracks to provide a safer environment for motorists, pedestrians, and railroad employees. Currently, six of the tracks are at passive crossings, and the train crew flags the unprotected track at the seventh crossing when a train moves across Virginia Avenue in North Charleston, SC.
Providence and Worcester Railroad Co. in Massachusetts was awarded $2.37 million to rehabilitate 12 miles of century-old rail to improve track conditions substantially with new continuous welded rail and ties along Providence and Worcester Railroad Company’s Gardner Branch rail line in central Massachusetts.
Grass Roots Visits South Dakota Congressional Delegation Staff Tour Wheeler Lumber in Whitewood, SD On September 8, staff of U.S. Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Mike Rounds (R-SD), and staff of U.S.
Congresswoman Kristi Noem (R-SD) joined National Railroad Construction & Maintenance Association (NRC) and ASLRRA associate business member Wheeler Lumber for a tour of their Timber Fabrication & Treatment facility in Whitewood, SD. Attendees included: Jeff Parrett, Vice President, and Dave Koch, Sales Manager, Wheeler Lumber;
Jeff Marlette, BG, U.S. Army (Ret.), West River Regional Director for Sen. Mike Rounds; Mark Haugen, Field Representative for Sen. John Thune; Sandy Marlette, Constituent Services Representative for Rep. Kristi Noem;
and Lindsey Collins, VP of Grassroots Advocacy at NRC.
Parrett gave an overview of Wheeler Lumber and their current operations. Since 1982, Wheeler has produced solutions for a variety of construction segments, including the rail construction and maintenance industry.
Parrett and Koch led a tour of the facility, which included the treating plant rebuilt in 2004 after a fire destroyed the original plant. It was at that time Wheeler converted to copper naphthenate, which is quickly becoming the preferred treatment for timber bridges. Wheeler employs twenty-four people on their Whitewood team.
Member News Alabama & Tennessee River Railway Increases Speed on Segment after Improvements OmniTRAX Inc. affiliate and ASLRRA member Alabama & Tennessee River Railway LLC (ATN) was able to increase the speed limit on almost 90 miles of track between Gadsden (near Alabama City) and Birmingham, AL from 10 mph to 25 mph after a "significant investment" in track, signals, communications systems and grade crossings during the past year. ATN last week successfully completed test runs at the new track speed after working with the local government and law enforcement. ATN interchanges with CSX in Birmingham, AL and NS in Alabama City, AL. View a map of the 120 mile operation here.
ASLRRA Associate Business Member Strato, Inc. Listed in the Top 250 Companies in NJ Strato, Inc. is listed in the Top 250 Privately Held Companies in New Jersey by NJBIZ based on two years’ revenue.
NJBIZ is a state wide business journal with a weekly circulation over 15,000. “We are excited about being included in this year’s Top 250,” said Mike Foxx, Strato President and CEO. “The local recognition gives us an edge when seeking the most talented candidates to continue our projected growth”. Headquartered in Piscataway, NJ, Strato is a manufacturer of quality products for the rail industry including airbrake hose and components, freight and passenger car parts, castings and fabrications. Strato offers custom product design and engineering services as well.
The Red River Valley & Western Railroad Announces Promotion of Daniel Zink
ASLRRA member Red River Valley & Western Railroad (RRVW) has announced the appointment of Daniel Zink, its long time Director of Administration, to the newly created post of Vice President, Economic Development and Community Affairs of the 577-mile regional (Class II) railroad. Zink joined RRVW in 1992, with responsibility for finance and accounting, business development, legislative affairs and capital investment analysis. Based at Wahpeton, ND and reporting to RRVW President Nate Asplund, Zink’s expanded role includes responsibility for executing the railroad’s strategy to locate new industries on the RRVW network. Zink will also lead RRVW’s engagement with public sector leaders at the state, county, and local level. In addition, he will oversee the railroad’s property and contract management activities. He has served as an ASLRRA board member since 2009, representing the Central Region for 6 years, and currently representing the LPC.
ASLRRA's Upcoming Events Southern Region Meeting Louisville Marriott Downtown Louisville, KY October 24-26, 2016 Operating Practices Training Seminar Sheraton Baltimore Washington Airport Baltimore, MD November 1-3, 2016 Central/Pacific Region Meeting Renaissance Oklahoma City Convention Center Oklahoma City, OK November 14-16, 2016 General Counsel Symposium/Finance & Administration Seminar Renaissance Oklahoma City Convention Center Oklahoma City, OK November 16-18, 2016 Views & News is published by the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association. Please contact Elizabeth