Indiana Rail Road, with the backing of the major rail carrier organizations, has filed suit challenging a law requiring two people on freight crews in Illinois, the Courthouse News Service reported.
“The recent history of railroads confirms the wisdom of FRA’s expert determination that minimum-crew-size laws are neither necessary nor appropriate,” the carriers said in their filing. “In recent decades, technological breakthroughs have allowed railroads to gradually decrease average crew sizes—from about five in the 1960s to just two today—while compiling an ever-improving record of safety. Now, the nation’s railroads are poised to deliver even safer and more efficient service.”
The filing repeatedly referenced the Federal Railroad Administration’s withdrawal of its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that occurred in late May. In the NPRM, FRA Administrator Ron Batory announced that his agency was acting with the intention to pre-empt any state laws regarding rail crew size. Indiana Rail Road, a regional railroad that operates over 250 miles of track in Illinois and Indiana, began using one-person crews in 1997.
The FRA’s NPRM withdrawal is being challenged in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Nevada by SMART TD, Illinois and a number of other states. Illinois on Aug. 9 became the seventh state overall and third this year to enact two-person crew legislation. The Illinois law is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
The lawsuit, which also lists the Association of American Railroads and American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association as plaintiffs, was filed Sept. 30 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division.

WASHINGTON — The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) has selected Linda Bauer Darr to succeed Richard F. Timmons as the Association’s President. Timmons is retiring at the end of 2014.

Darr is currently the President and CEO of the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA), serving in that capacity since 2007. She previously held senior positions in the American Bus Association (ABA) and the American Trucking Associations (ATA). From 1998 to 2000 she served in the Clinton Administration as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget and Programs at the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“ASLRRA undertook a nearly year-long search for its new President and we believe we have concluded that search with an outstanding selection,” said ASLRRA Chairman Ed McKechnie. “Ms. Darr has significant experience in leading trade associations and has spent almost her entire career in the transportation industry. Her government service was at a very senior level in the Agency that has direct budget and programmatic oversight over the Federal Railroad Administration, the federal agency with the most interaction with the railroad industry,” said McKechnie.

Richard Timmons is concluding his 12th year as ASLRRA’s President. “Rich transformed our Association,” said McKechnie. “He made us a stronger, more effective and more member-focused organization and we are sincerely grateful for the energy and enthusiasm he gave us during his tenure. In Linda Darr we look to taking our Association to an even higher level of effectiveness as we address the challenges of improving safety, building on our legislative successes and enhancing the short line railroad brand,” said McKechnie.

“Short line railroads are a dynamic and increasingly important part of the nation’s transportation network,” said Darr. “They are owned by entrepreneurs who are risk-takers in the very best sense of the word and I am looking forward to helping them be as successful as possible.”

Association of American Railroads’ (AAR) President Ed Hamberger applauded the choice. “I have known and worked with Linda over many years,” said Hamberger. “She is a smart, energetic leader with a wealth of experience in the transportation industry. I look forward to maintaining the strong partnership we have enjoyed with ASLRRA under Rich Timmons’ leadership,” said Hamberger.

Darr is a graduate of the University of Maryland and has done post-graduate work at the University of Virginia and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Her current and past professional affiliations include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Committee of 100 Top Association Executives, serving as an instructor with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Graduate School on the topic of association management and lobbying, working as an advisor to the Eno Transportation Foundation, actively participating in the Transportation Research Board, and serving as a Board Member of the U.S. – Mexico Chamber of Commerce. She will be the first female ASLRRA President in the Association’s 101 year history.

American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) officials on April 24 introduced a safety initiative they characterized as the association’s largest-ever undertaking.

To launch in January 2015, the initiative will help make the short line industry the safest industry in the world, ASLRRA officials said during the association’s 101st annual meeting held in San Diego late last week. In cooperation with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), U.S. Department of Transportation’s Volpe National Transportation Systems Center and the University of Connecticut (UConn), ASLRRA plans to develop large libraries of training tools, technical materials and other educational resources to assist small railroads in instilling a good safety culture in their organization in addition to complying with all required safety regulations.

Read the complete story at Progressive Railroading.

The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) has named Jo Strang vice president for regulatory affairs, effective July 1.

She most recently served the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Prior to that, Strang had a long career at the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). In her last position, as associate administrator for railroad safety and chief safety officer, she provided regulatory oversight for rail safety, including the development and enforcement of safety regulations and programs related to the rail industry.

Read the complete story at Progressive Railroading.