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Rail News Home Short Lines & Regionals

September 2007

Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals

Tax-credit bills continue to gain backers on Capitol Hill

When Congress recessed for the summer on Aug. 6, it was a good time for the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) and its lobbyists to take stock of congressional support for two key tax-credit bills. The results: 173 U.S. representatives and 32 senators had signed on as co-sponsors of the Short Line Railroad Investment Act of 2007 (H.R. 1584/S. 881).

The bills propose to extend short lines’ tax credit law — enacted in 2005 — by three years from Dec. 31, 2007, to 2010’s end; minimize the Alternative Minimum Tax’s impact on credits; provide eligibility for short lines created in 2005 and 2006; and increase the mileage-based credit limitation from $3,500 to $4,500. The co-sponsor total surpassed a goal of 200 set by the ASLRRA and lobbying firm Chambers, Conlon & Hartwell L.L.C. (CC&H).

“The real story is in the Senate,” says CC&H partner Adam Nordstrom. “With 32, we’re only one away from one-third. And last time [in 2004], we got 19 Senate co-sponsors.”

Another story is the groundswell of support from rail shippers. More than 1,000 shippers now back the bills.

“There is growing unanimity among railroad customers that the short-line tax credit has contributed to more competitive, efficient and safer railroad service,” said Russ Harrison, owner of rail shipper Harrison Gypsum, and chairman of short-line shipper coalition and tax credits backer Saving Our Service, in a prepared statement. In 2004, fewer shippers backed the initial tax-credit bill. “There was more ad hoc shipper support,” says Nordstrom. “Saving our Service is a more organized effort.”

In 2004, fewer shippers backed the initial tax-credit bill.

“There was more ad hoc shipper support,” says Nordstrom. “Saving our Service is a more organized effort.”

Jeff Stagl

In Memoriam: Walter Rich, 1946-2007
Short-line industry leader loses bout with cancer

The short-line industry has lost a “tireless and dedicated” leader.

After an eight-month battle with cancer, Walter Rich, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The Delaware Otsego Corp., and owner and head of the firm’s New York, Susquehanna & Western Railway Corp. (NYSW) subsidiary, died Aug. 9. He was 61.

Rich had served Delaware Otsego since 1971, was CEO of NYSW — a 400-mile short line operating in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania — since 1980, and CEO of NYSW subsidiary the Central New York Railroad (CNY) since 2005. CNY operates a line between Binghamton and Port Jervis, N.Y.

In 1988, Rich headed an effort to save the bankrupt Delaware & Hudson Railway, which NYSW operated under emergency orders from the Interstate Commerce Commission for 18 months until the property was sold to Canadian Pacific Railway.

In 1994, he was appointed to then New York Governor-elect George Pataki’s transition team and a transportation subcommittee, and a year later became a member of the New York State Public Transportation Safety Board. Rich previously served as a member and past chairman of the Eastern General Managers’ Association, where he worked to improve rail safety and organized numerous industry seminars on the subject.

In 1994, he was elected vice president of the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA), and later served as the association’s chairman from 2001 to 2004.

“Walter was an influential and powerful spokesman for the short-line industry for over 25 years during the explosive growth of the 1980s and 90s,” said ASLRRA President Richard Timmons in a prepared statement. “As chairman of the association, he dealt with some of the most challenging problems of that growth at both the state and federal levels, and tirelessly dedicated himself to the expansion of the small railroad network.”

Since joining ASLRRA as president in September 2002, Timmons many times sought Rich’s advice on numerous issues.

“He was always available and thoughtful in providing timely and valuable insights and recommendations,” said Timmons. “I will miss him as a friend, and his wise counsel. He will long be remembered as a leader who faced tough problems head-on.”

Rich is survived by his wife, Karine, and children Stephanie and Derik.


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