With federal policymakers increasingly eyeing midterm elections and rail industry observers still awaiting Congressional action to fill vacancies at the Surface Transportation Board (STB), the Association of American Railroads (AAR) today sent a high-level letter to mayors across the United States summarizing the foundation of the private freight rail sector’s business and external relations efforts – namely its economic impact, safety record and technological gains and aspirations. On the heels of its first ever RailxTech event, which included a white paper to summarize the state of affairs surrounding technology in the freight rail business, the AAR felt it was important to share this information with mayors, who stand at the frontlines of public policy and will be critical stakeholders as the industry pursues wider deployment of safety improving technologies.
“A significant portion of the industry’s operations are regulated by the federal government, but our impact is felt strongly in towns and cities across this country,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. “While the industry will never stop in its pursuit to make our safe industry even safer, we are proud that our continued private investments help efficiently move goods throughout the U.S., serve myriad businesses that help support local economies and increasingly allow the industry to test and deploy innovative solutions. We feel it is important to extend our Washington-based dialogue to local policymakers to supplement the tireless work our members do every day in working with not just mayors, but their residents, businesses and safety officials.”
The letter makes particular mention of Positive Train Control (PTC), which the industry is on track to fully install as mandated by the U.S. Congress, as well as AskRail, the digital platform designed in concert with International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and made available to qualified first responders to access critical rail information in the case of an emergency. AskRail, along with constantly occurring training events held throughout the country, is some of the most tangible ways in which railroads interact with local communities.
The letter also makes note of continued, misguided efforts by select trucking interests to convince members of Congress to increase federal weight and length limits for large, commercial trucks – something that organizations such as the National League of Cities (NLC) and National Association of Counties (NACo) typically oppose.