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Congressional reps visit Progress Rail, PortaCo

Rep. Goodlatte (second to left), with Chadd Phillips, Daniel Blocker and Cecil Ferguson (left to right) at Progress Rail's draft gear shop in Roanoke
Photo: NRC

Two rail-industry suppliers last week discussed the railroad industry and public policy issues with federal government officials, who toured the suppliers' plants.

U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) on Feb. 5 met with representatives of Progress Rail Services Corp. to discuss rail issues and tour the company's locomotive and rail car services plant in Roanoke, Va.

The facility was originally operated by Norfolk Southern Railway and closed in 2000. Progress Rail reopened the draft gear shop in Roanoke in 2002 to remanufacture rail parts and recondition old draft gears. The company now is seeking approval for its newly designed draft gear from the Association of American Railroads.

Cecil Ferguson, plant manager, provided an overview of the company and its current operations. The tour was led by Progress Rail Production Supervisor Chad Phillips.

Also attending the congressman's visit were Progress Rail's Marise Stewart, director of government and industry relations; and Daniel Blocker, general manager-parts division.

In addition, Goodlatte's chief of staff Pete Larkin and Lindsey Collins, vice president of grassroots advocacy at the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC), were in attendance. Progress Rail is an NRC member.

Meanwhile, two representatives from U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson's (D-Minn.) office met with PortaCo officials to tour the company's facility in Moorhead, Minn., on Feb. 8.

Allison Myhre, Toni Merdan, Sean Winkler and Patrick Cronin
Photo: REMSA

Allison Myhre, chief of staff, and Toni Merdan, economic development officer for Peterson, learned about PortaCo's maintenance-of-way tools and discussed public policy priorities for the business and rail communities in western Minnesota, according to the Railway Engineering-Maintenance and Suppliers Association (REMSA), which coordinated the event.

PortaCo President and Chief Executive Officer Patrick Cronin led the tour, which also was attended by Sean Winkler, grassroots coordinator for REMSA. Among the issues discussed were the recent extension of the Short Line Tax Credit and the new freight-rail title under the FAST Act.

PortaCo started operations more than 35 years ago in Moorhead as a manufacturer of hydraulic valves and manifolds. Today, it produces hydraulic power units, tools, and machines used in railway track construction and maintenance.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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