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10/13/2004



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

AAR celebrates 70th anniversary



Yesterday, the Association of American Railroads marked its 70th anniversary. On Oct. 12, 1934, the AAR was formed through the merger of several other rail industry associations, including the Association of Railway Executives, American Railway Association and Bureau of Railway Economics.

After President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Emergency Rail Transportation Act in 1933, he appointed Joseph Eastman federal coordinator of transportation. Eastman encouraged the rail industry to form a unified association. The AAR's purpose was to "protect and advance the railroad industry under private ownership and management to enable them to better handle their own affairs on a permanent basis," according to a prepared statement

The AAR's current role is both different and the same, association officials believe. As railroads merged, some functions were phased out, but the industry's mechanical standards, and interchange and tank-car rules continue to be published through the AAR.

However, the association assumed a new role as the industry's security advisor after Sept. 11, 2001. Through its 24/7 Operations Center, Surface Transportation Information Sharing and Analysis Center, and Rail Alert Network, AAR officials maintain constant communication with federal security and intelligence organizations, and each railroads' operations center.

Today, AAR members include major U.S., Canadian and Mexican freight railroads, Amtrak and a few commuter railroads. The association's members operate 77 percent of U.S. freight-rail track miles, employ 92 percent of the rail industry's workers and earn 94 percent of all freight revenue.


Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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