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5/20/2003



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

This just in: News from ASLRRA's annual meeting


On May 19, attendees of American Short Line and Regional Railroad Associations' 90th Annual Meeting and Exhibition in Philadelphia heard the following snippets from presenters at the general session and business luncheon:


Federal Railroad Administration recently identified $600 million worth of small-road infrastructure projects under the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) program, said FRA Administrator Allan Rutter during the morning general session. (Notably, Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad Corp. has applied for a $225 million RRIF loan to help finance its $1.5 billion Powder River Basin project, an attendee said in the exhibition hall.) FRA currently is working with consultant Volpe Transportation Center to shorten the time between loan approval and payment. "The program is working and money is flowing," said Rutter. "Our job is to get it to you;"


• Transportation Security Administration is closer to implementing the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program, which is designed to improve security, protect workers' privacy and eliminate redundant transportation credentials. TSA plans to establish a system-wide common credential for all U.S. transportation workers to be used across all modes. The administration is testing TWIC at transportation facilities in Philadelphia and Los Angeles;


• To expand rail's market share, roads need a collective vision, including a strong relationship among Class Is and connecting short lines, said Canadian Pacific Railway President and Chief Executive Officer Rob Ritchie during his keynote luncheon address. CPR connects with 97 U.S. and Canadian short lines. Ritchie proposes that all railroads consider public/private partnerships to help improve infrastructure and enhance capacity. "In the past decade alone, the rail industry has invested over $100 billion to modernize itself," he said. "[But] given the projections for economic and freight-tonnage growth, there is also a need for a level of investment that is greater than the railways are capable of funding on their own."


Jeff Stagl


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