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The Association of American Railroads (AAR) has appointed Michael Rush senior vice president of safety and operations to succeed Robert VanderClute, the longtime SVP who has served the association for 12 years.A life-long railroader, VanderClute spent 27 years with Amtrak, rising to the position of vice president of operations and chief operating officer. Before joining the AAR in 2002, he spent five years as vice president for rail at Parsons Brinckerhoff."Bob's contributions to the AAR, to our members and to the rail industry worldwide are vast," said AAR President and Chief Executive Officer Ed Hamberger in a press release. "His depth of railroad knowledge and hands-on experience will be difficult to duplicate. As well, his love for all things railroading is unsurpassed."Most recently associate general counsel, Rush has served the AAR since 1980. He has counseled the association and its member railroads on environmental, hazardous materials and safety matters, including spearheading the freight-rail industry’s push for stronger tank-car safety standards, AAR officials said."Safety has been and always will be front and center for the rail industry, and we are fortunate to have Mike's expertise to lead this critical area," said Hamberger. "Mike's insights on myriad issues, particularly those with a safety focus, are immeasurable."