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— By Pat Foran, Editor
While near-term economic forecasts are murky, particularly in a global context, the regulatory and legislative issues on U.S. railroaders’ minds are the same as they’ve been for the past several years, as Senior Associate Editor Julie Sneider notes in this month’s cover story. What’s changed are the political and rhetorical environments in which those issues might be debated in the months ahead.
It’s a pretty safe bet railroads won’t have to work too hard to convince regulators or legislators to preserve or pare back regs. President Trump and the new Congress have been clear about how they feel about regulation. And that’s giving the association representatives that Sneider interviewed — as well as rail finance and leasing execs we surveyed during the information-gathering process for our 17th annual Finance & Leasing Guide — cause for optimism about the near term.
Less certain is whether the new administration and Congress will side with the rail industry on (or even consider) other matters this year — whether it’s the bigger/heavier trucks issue or the call to extend the short-line tax credit. Then there’s the trade agreement and tariff talk, and the potential intermodal implications that go with it. Ultimately, it’s unclear where rail will rate on the urgency meter in 2017. Frankly, it’s unclear every year. But in 2017, the winds of change in Washington may sweep more than a few industry-specific issues off the discussion table. Or at least off to the side for a spell.
Perhaps we’ll know more next month. On March 2, railroaders will be in Washington, D.C., to deliver their message(s) to congressfolk at Railroad Day on Capitol Hill. I’ll be doing my usual fly-on-the-wall observing and listening. I’ll report back — on the tone and tenor of the conversations, if nothing else.
We recently added more star power to the already-stellar lineup of speakers for Secure Rail 2017. Laird Pitz, vice president and chief risk officer for CP, and Jim McKenney, solutions architect-operational technology for CSX, have signed on as presenters at this year’s conference, which will be held April 5-6 at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando, Fla.
Other presenters at our third annual conference will discuss the latest risks and threats to physical and cybersecurity, how to anticipate future threats, and other topics, including managing and protecting employees, passengers and assets. In all, there are more than 20 scheduled conference sessions.
The theme of Secure Rail 2017 — the only conference that addresses North American rail security from an organizational perspective on both physical and cybersecurity — is “Protection, Prevention and Planning for the Future.”
For more information or to register, visit SecureRailConference.com.