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By Jeff Stagl, Managing Editor
The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) in January named Chuck Baker president. He assumed the post Feb. 4.
Baker, 40, succeeds Linda Bauer Darr, who resigned in July 2018 to become president and chief executive officer of the American Council of Engineering Companies.
Baker previously was a partner at Chambers, Conlon & Hartwell LLC (CC&H) and president of the National Railroad Construction & Maintenance Association (NRC). He joined the NRC in 2004 as manager and later served as vice president, executive director and president.
At CC&H, Baker represented such clients as the NRC, OneRail Coalition, Norfolk Southern Railway and CN. He also serves on the board for the Short Line Safety Institute, which the ASLRRA helped form in 2015.
Baker will be an enthusiastic and tireless advocate for short lines, ASLRRA Chair Judy Petry wrote in an emailed letter. He also will be adept at building strong teams to advance key issues, such as obtaining a permanent Section 45G tax credit for regionals and short lines, she believes.
In January, the Building Rail Access for Customers and the Economy (BRACE) Act was reintroduced in the House (H.R. 510) and Senate (S. 203). The BRACE Act — which proposes to make the short-line tax credit permanent — died in the last Congress. Created in 2005, the tax credit expired at 2017’s end.
“Chuck knows how to get things done in Washington, having worked on issues of importance to us in Congress and with industry regulators,” wrote Petry, the president and general manager of Farmrail System Inc. “In addition to his understanding of the rail industry ... he has led several trade associations.”
During his time at the NRC, Baker helped the association grow substantially while serving as leader, said NRC Chairman Mike Choat in a prepared statement. Baker’s accomplishments include doubling membership to nearly 430 companies; boosting annual conference attendance to more than 1,100; establishing an annual rail construction and maintenance equipment auction; and launching education and scholarship initiatives, Choat said.
“After having worked with Chuck over the past 10 years, it is clear we will all miss him. He has worked extremely hard with the executive committee to move the organization forward and operate it like a business,” Choat said.
Prior to joining CC&H, Baker — a Baltimore native — worked on a surface transportation policy project in Washington, D.C. He also served as an investment banker for Deutsche Bank Securities in San Francisco, specializing in corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions.
Now, he looks forward to doing his part at the ASLRRA to ensure the short line industry is prepared to meet tomorrow’s challenges, Baker said in a statement.
“Along with the ASLRRA board, staff and most importantly the members themselves, I’m eager to tell the short line story, including the significant safety, infrastructure investment, congestion reduction, environmental improvement and economic development benefits we provide throughout the country,” he said.
Progressive Railroading named Baker a Rising Star in 2014. A Rising Star is defined as someone under the age of 40 who has made, or is making, a positive impact on his or her company, organization, department or team.