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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

From the editor: Rail safety and the pursuit of constructive dialogue


By Pat Foran, Editor-in-Chief

On May 8, industry stakeholders will return to D.C. to participate in Railroad Day on Capitol Hill. While there are several topics they’d like to discuss, most stakeholders know Congressfolk will want to talk about East Palestine, as Senior Editor Julie Sneider writes in this month’s cover story.

Rail industry stakeholders will be prepared to talk with lawmakers and regulators about rail safety. How rail transportation is a safe way to move people and freight, and that it can be safer. How the collective aim has been and remains to zero in on zero tolerance for safety failures. How the industry has taken steps since the Norfolk Southern Railway train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, on Feb. 3, 2023, to get closer to that goal. As TGA Association Management Solutions’ Matt Ginsberg told Sneider: “Collectively, the railroads and the rail supply industry need to continue educating key stakeholders and decision-makers.”

It’s a “perception repair” challenge, as Ginsberg put it.

While the industry isn’t likely to embrace a legislative fix for anything, which exacerbates their perception challenge, rail industry stakeholders rightly say they’d be willing to work with Congress and the Biden administration on safety proposals rooted in science and data, as opposed to anecdotal evidence, ideology or politics.

Rail safety shouldn’t be politicized — by any link in the chain.

Not surprisingly, politicians have continued to attempt to leverage the East Palestine derailment. Expect the leveraging to continue, particularly as presidential election politics intensify.

Regardless, rail stakeholders must use this time — at Railroad Day or anywhere else conversation can take place — to avoid using their own rhetoric and pursue constructive dialogue. As I wrote in this space a year ago: If safety truly is their top priority, rail management, labor, shippers and other links in the chain need to check any disingenuousness they may be harboring at the door, and make sure their priorities are in order. Or at least that the top one is.

Send us your 2024 Rising Stars nominations

Last month, we opened the nomination process for our 12th annual Rising Stars Awards, a recognition program for up-and-coming leaders in the North American rail industry.

Progressive Railroading defines a Rising Star as someone under the age of 40 who is making a difference in his or her company, department or team, and is viewed by others — peers, colleagues, supervisors, clients or associates — as a rising star in the industry.

We’ll select 25 Rising Stars and publish their profiles online in July and in our September print edition. The Rising Stars of 2024 will be honored during a virtual celebration on July 24.

Nominees must be younger than 40 years old on Sept. 1, 2024, and currently work in North America’s rail industry. To nominate a Rising Star, fill out the form at The nomination deadline is March 8.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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