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Rail News Home MOW

April 2024

Rail News: MOW

NRC Chairman's column: Our industry needs your voice on Capitol Hill

Joe Daloisio, NRC Chairman


I have a hunch that I'm in good company with what I'm about to share.

I'm guilty of thinking that everyone knows our industry as well as we all do. I know the huge impact of freight railroads on the U.S. economy. I'm well acquainted with the statistics about trains transporting 1.7 billion tons of freight over nearly 140,000 miles of track each year, while generating more than 1 million jobs nationwide. I know that U.S. freight railroads are safe, efficient, cost-effective and environmentally sound. And I know firsthand the important role of railroad contractors and suppliers in building, maintaining and supplying this vast network.

Yet I take it for granted that my elected officials and government regulators understand these facts and truly appreciate our industry. This was evident to me, several NRC board members and staff when we visited Capitol Hill in May of 2023. We had the opportunity to sit down with several members of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and have a frank, open conversation about just how safe our industry really is. Our message was well received and the NRC plans to continue sharing it to promote rail safety for both freight and transit systems.

Now, one year removed from East Palestine, educating our elected officials is still as important as ever. We have the opportunity to meet with members of Congress on May 8 as part of 2024 Railroad Day on Capitol Hill. For the first time since 2020, the whole industry will be together, in person, advocating for the freight-rail industry and building valuable connections in Washington.

Don't just take it from me. We heard it from participants on the legislative panel at the NRC's annual conference who are dedicated to advocacy work full time. They confirmed the significance of sharing your railroad story with your elected representatives.

Mr. McClellan thanked attendees for all they do and said NS is committed to working with contractors.

"In-person engagement is really important," stressed Arielle Giordano, assistant vice president of U.S. government affairs for Canadian Pacific Kansas City.

Ms. Giordano encouraged you to invite elected officials to your facilities and project sites.

"Staffers are spread thin and can be responsible for a number of unrelated issue areas. Our goal is to share information about our industry, how we operate, the investments we make in infrastructure and technology, and our unwavering commitment to safety. The members and their staff are really interested in the work we do in their state or district and in-person field visits give them a chance to see things with their own eyes," she said.

Matt Ginsberg, president of the NRC's government affairs firm in Washington, TGA Association Management Solutions LLC, asserted that contractors and suppliers have an important story to share about their work in the industry as well as their innovations that propel safety and productivity improvements.

"There's an unfounded perception that rail is an unsafe industry and another accident is imminent — and of course we know that's not the case," said Ginsberg. "That's why it's so important that railroads and the rail supply industry educate key stakeholders and decision-makers. We have to let them know everything the industry is doing to improve safety."

Ginsberg added that Railroad Day on the Hill and grassroots events are tremendous opportunities to build relationships with your elected officials, their staff members and with other leaders in our industry. Those relationships will serve your organization well and will cumulatively benefit the freight rail industry.

Find out more about Railroad Day on the Hill and how to register on the NRC's website. While you are there, learn more about our grassroots events. Contact Michael McGonagle, the NRC's vice president of government affairs and operations, for more details.

I strongly encourage you to please join me and hundreds of other railroaders on Capitol Hill on May 8. Make your voice heard, show your support and get involved! Our industry needs us.

I truly believe we aren't just in this industry ... we ARE this industry!

"Building a Safer and Stronger Railway Construction Industry Together!"

Joe Daloisio, NRC chairman
The National Railroad Construction & Maintenance Association Inc.
80 M Street, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20003

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