January 2021 NRC Bulletin
February 2, 2021
NRC Updates and Announcements
NRC FirstLook 2021 Recap

On January 6, 2021, Mr. James A. Squires, Chairman and CEO of Norfolk Southern Corp., was the featured keynote speaker for the Fireside Chat webcast hosted by NRC Chairman Jim Hansen, Chief Commercial Officer at Herzog, and NRC Vice Chairman Steve Bolte, Vice President of Business Development North America at Danella. This event kicked-off a month full of informative webcasts over the course of January.

Throughout the month moderators and panelists from all seven Class I railroads as well as railroad contractors and suppliers provided valuable insights for 2021 and beyond. All of this was made possible thanks to the NRC FirstLook 2021 sponsors; to see a list of our sponsors please click here.
On January 13, Mr. Carl Walker, Chief Engineer Communications and Signals, CSX moderated the second FirstLook webcast titled: Signal and Communications Opportunities for Contractors and Suppliers Panel. The webcast featured panelists Rob Dickson, AVP S&C, Norfolk Southern, Tom Hilliard, Chief S&C, Canadian National Railway, John Leonardo, GM Wayside Train Control & Communications, Canadian Pacific Jim LeVere, Vice President Eng-Signal and NCS, BNSF, and Jay McAndrew General Director Signal Design & Construction, Union Pacific.

The following week, on January 21, Evan Bell, Head of Procurement, CSX moderated the third FirstLook webcast titled: Freight Procurement Opportunities for Contractors and Suppliers. The panelists were Ken Jensen, Director Purchasing Mechanical/Transportation, Norfolk Southern, Erin Mitchell, General Director, Strategic Sourcing and Supply, BNSF, Wendy Whalen, Assistant Vice President Supply Chain, Union Pacific.
To conclude FirstLook 2021, on January 27 NRC Board Member David Ferryman, Vice President of Sales, EVRAZ North America, hosted the finale webcast titled: Class I Chief Engineerings Panel: Capital Programs and Opportunities for Contractors and Suppliers. The panel featured Ed Boyle, VP Engineering, Norfolk Southern, Kevin Day, AVP Engineering Track, Eastern Region, Canadian National Railway, Tod Echler, Chief Engineer M of W, CSX, Shane Keller, VP Engineering, Union Pacific, Manny Loureiro, Vice President and Chief Engineer, Kansas City Southern, and Craig Rasmussen, AVP Engineering, BNSF.

Thanks again to our FirstLook presenters and sponsors as well as all of our members and FirstLook registrants who made this event a success! Presentations and recordings of the panels are available for FIrstLook registrants and will be e-mailed to all attendees in the coming days. If you have any questions, please contact NRC staff at info@nrcma.org or by phone at 202-975-0365.
Register for the NRC and Railway Age Webinar on February 16

Sponsored by:
On February 16 from 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. ET, the NRC and Railway Age will host a webinar discussing the new Congress and incoming Administration's impact on freight rail. We will discuss how the November elections outcome will impact congressional action on important rail policies in the next Congress as well as the incoming Biden Administration.

The panel will be joined by Congressman Donald M. Payne Jr., member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and newly announced Chairman of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials. The Chairman along with other panelists will give thoughtful insights on what the rail industry can expect from Washington this year.

If you would like to register, please click here. Sponsorships are available for this webinar, so please contact NRC staff for more information. If you have any questions at this time, please reach out to NRC staff by email at info@nrcma.org or by phone at 202-975-0365. 
Buttigieg confirmed by the Senate, Biden announces USDOT appointees

On February 2, the Senate confirmed President Joe Biden’s transportation secretary nomination Pete Buttigieg by a vote of 86-13. Buttigieg's confirmation will play a key role in Biden’s national infrastructure plan, and was the 4th cabinet appointment of the Biden Administration.

On January 21, the Biden Administration appointed 39 members key members of the U.S. Department of Transportation, with more to be announced in the coming days. Among them are Amit Bose, Deputy Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), and Nuria Fernandez, Deputy Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Bose and Fernandez have both held positions previously, with Bose serving as Chief Counsel at the FRA, and Fernandez who has over 25 years of agency experience including working for the FTA. Click here for more info.
BNSF Capex almost $3 billion

On January 20, BNSF Railway announced it will spend $2.99 billion on its capital plan this year, down from $3.08 billion in 2020. A lot like last year's plans this year's capital expenditures will focus on replacing and maintaining the Class I's core network and related assets.

Maintenance projects, which are budgeted at $2.41 billion in 2021, mostly entail replacing and upgrading rail, replacing ballast and ties, and maintaining rolling stock. The plan calls for 11,000 miles of track surfacing or undercutting work, and the replacement of 428 miles of rail and 2.6 million ties. BNSF President and Chief Executive Officer Katie Farmer said this in a press release, "Every year through our capital plan, we work to ensure we are able to continue to operate a safe and efficient rail network, provide our customers with the level of service they have come to expect from BNSF as well as position ourselves for future growth opportunities." Click here for more info.
FRA Part 243 Webcast Recap

Sponsored by:
On February 1, the NRC held a webinar for NRC membership discussing important CFR Part 243 updates, deadlines and implications for rail contractors. Webinar presenters included Chip Frazier, CEO of Railroad Safety Training Solutions and featured Rob Castiglione, Staff Director for the rail Safety Partnership Division at FRA. The panel discussed the upcoming May 1, 2021 deadline and how NRC members can prepare themselves for the deadline. Participants also learned that FRA will publish an NPRM this summer that will harmonize the compliance guide and interpretation/guidance.

As a reminder, NRC members may access the NRC’s FRA Part 243 model templates, all safety videos (including the newly re-shot Video 1: Hand Tools), and more by logging on to the NRC website and clicking on the “Safety Resources” tab. Not an NRC member and want to access these member benefits? Join by clicking here. A replay of this webinar is available on the members-only portion of the NRC website and will be sent to all registered attendees by email in the coming days.
BUILD and INFRA NOFOs announced
On January 22, the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced it is currently revising the FY 2021 BUILD Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). Any FY 2021 BUILD NOFOs issued prior to January 21, 2021 including any previously published on the DOT website, or grants.gov, are withdrawn, and will not be used. The DOT will publish the final FY 2021 NOFO by April 26, 2021.

Like the BUILD NOFO, the DOT is currently revising the FY 2021 INFRA NOFO, and any INFRA NOFO issued before January 21, 2021 including any previously published on the DOT website, or grants.gov, are withdrawn, and will not be used. The DOT will update its website soon with an updated FY 2021 INFRA NOFO. It is likely USDOT will make determinations in the very near future and NRC staff will keep you updated as more information becomes available.
USDOT award $40 million in grants for commuter-rail fixes

On January 14, The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced $40 million in grants will be awarded to five states seeking to improve safety at grade crossings. The Commuter Authority Rail Safety Improvement Grants Program (CARSI) will help commuter-rail authorities in California, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington eliminate safety hazards at crossings, according to a USDOT press release.

The grants were awarded by the Federal Highway Administration in coordination with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Federal Transit Administration. Last year, federal legislation appropriated $50 million in CARSI funding to be awarded by the highway administration for grade crossing-related projects. The highway administration expects to issue a notice of funding opportunity to initiate the next round of CARSI grant competition and invite eligible applicants to compete for the remaining CARSI funds in the coming months, USDOT officials said.
NRC Member RJ Corman names Ron Batory to Board, Mark Boyle promoted to VP

On February 1, R. J. Corman Railroad Group, LLC announced the appointment of former U.S. Department of Transportation FRA Administrator Ronald L. (Ron) Batory to its Board of Directors. Before his service in Washington D.C., Batory spent his entire 46-year career in the railroad industry, and he retired from Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail) after more than 12 years as its President & Chief Operating Officer. Please click here to view the press release.

Batory has a multitude of accomplishments. In 1994, he was named President of the Belt Railway Company of Chicago (BRC), the largest switching terminal in the U.S. and a vitally important linchpin in the nation’s rail hub, jointly owned at the time by nine Class I railroads. “I am looking forward to serve in this role for R. J. Corman,” said Batory. “For many years they have been known throughout the railroad industry as a top-tier service provider, and I am happy to assist however I can to continue their success.”
On January 12, R. J. Corman Railroad Services announced that Mark Boyle will assume the role of Vice President. His predecessor, Rick Johnson, will remain with the company in an advisory capacity and will assist with and ensure a smooth transition. "We are excited to promote Mark into this role,” said Ed Quinn, President & CEO of R. J. Corman Railroad Group. “He has exhibited strong leadership and the same commitment to excellence that our customers have grown accustomed to" said Quinn. Please click here to view the press release.
UT Knoxville's Center for Transportation Research safety online workshop is February 25

On February 25, the University of Tennessee - Knoxville's Center for Transportation Research is hosting an online workshop on safety for highway and utility field personnel.

The workshop will be helpful for maintenance crews and utility crews in the planning, selection, application, and operation of flagging procedures as they apply to short-term work zones. The course material was developed with regards to typical short-term maintenance and utility activities.

The program is from 8:30 am - 12:30 pm ET and will be hosted by Frank Brewer. Frank's duties with TTAP include: Training Coordinator for TTAP, conducting work zone related workshops, and a number of research projects at the University of Tennessee Center for Transportation Research, with a focus on the areas of highway safety and traffic operations. If you have any questions or would like to register please visit ttap.utk.edu or call 865-974-5255.
Industry News and Updates
On February 1, 2021 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order imposing a mask mandate on public transportation systems, including rail, to help mitigate the risk of spreading and contracting COVID-19, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced. The CDC order implements President Joe Biden's executive order to promote COVID-19 safety during domestic and international travel, FTA officials stated in a press release. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) issued a security directive that supports enforcement of the CDC's mask mandate. Freight railroads and their facilities are not covered by the TSA security directives, rather it appears DOT/FRA will be responsible for the scope of the CDC mask order as applied to freight railroads. 

On January 28, The Broe Group's transportation affiliate, OmniTRAX Inc. named Dean Piacente its Chief Executive Officer. Piacente, an accomplished Class I rail leader with more than 20 years of tenure as a CSX commercial executive, will assume the role effective February 1, 2021. OmniTRAX board member David Garin said "Dean is one of the most respected business leaders in rail. His depth of Class 1 commercial experience, record of sustained results, and demonstrated leadership make him the ideal person to lead OmniTRAX's continued growth."

On January 26, Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. became the chairman of the Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee for the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure. “It is a great honor and privilege to chair such an important subcommittee,” said Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. “Our transportation industry has suffered significantly during the COVID-19 global pandemic. I want to make sure our nation’s rail system has the resources necessary to protect commuters and staff as well as maintain facilities during and after this public health crisis."

Amtrak is now accepting Letters of Interest from contractors until Feb. 15, 2021, for construction associated work at the New Carrollton Station in Maryland. This project is part of Amtrak’s greater goal of transforming Northeast Corridor train travel by enhancing the customer experience in stations and onboard trains. This infrastructure work is underway in preparation for the introduction of the new Acela fleet scheduled to begin entering service in 2021. The project involves work within the existing station and the construction of a side platform and will be closely coordinated with Amtrak for minimal impacts to service.

Mass Transit published an article about the benefits of contracting out on transit rail projects with input from NRC's Transit Committee. Rail infrastructure can be capital intensive to build and maintain, and with nearly half of all transit trips taken on rail modes, the need to keep this infrastructure in top shape is vital to maintaining safety and service. To assist with this critical work, transit agencies can and do turn to rail contracting companies. "NRC members are highly motivated from both a financial and company reputation perspective to find the most innovative solutions to deliver projects for less cost without compromising safety...since our members routinely work for freight and passenger rail customers, they are able to provide expertise on the best methods, equipment and services out there in the industry,” said Matt Ginsberg, president and founder of TGA Association Management Solutions LLC, which manages the NRC.

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The NRC is a trade association representing businesses from across the nation in the rail construction and maintenance field. NRC members range in size from small family businesses to the largest companies in the industry. NRC members perform work for transit, commuter, intercity passenger, industrial, and freight rail customers, with services including track construction and maintenance, grade crossings, signal and communications installation, bridge construction and repair, rail yard work, and many more. The NRC strives to put an emphasis on rail safety and quality while proudly serving the rail industry