May 2021 NRC Bulletin
May 28, 2021
NRC Updates and Announcements
Recap of NRC Virtual Auction on May 13

On May 13, the NRC hosted the 17th annual equipment auction and we are pleased to report it was one of the most successful in association history! All in all, over two dozen sellers listed more than 132 items in this year's auction and these items were viewed over 13,000 times online in lead-up to the auction.

Over 236 people logged in to view the livestream, and 72 people bid or submitted pre-bids on the available items. Popular items this year were excavators, tampers, and hi-rail trucks, among many other items that were in high-demand this year. Rather than shipping items to a designated auction site, sellers saved on shipping expenses and were able to post equipment details and photos online while buyers were able to avoid the cost and time of bidding in person and were able to size up opportunities conveniently at their fingertips.
This year’s virtual auction was administered by experienced auctioneers Blackmon Auctions. If you have any questions about the auction please reach out to Thomas Blackmon at

NRC Chairman Jim Hansen said "There’s nothing more important than staying safe on the jobsite. That’s why I am particularly grateful to everyone who made this year’s annual Auction a big success. On behalf of the entire NRC community...I’d like to extend a special thanks to the NRC Auction Committee, led by Danny Brown, chief operating officer with RELAM, Inc., who also serves on our (NRC) Board of Directors. Shifting to a virtual auction presented a whole range of unknowns."
Rail Merger Update: CN, KCS File With STB for Voting Trust Approval

On May 26, CN and Kansas City Southern jointly filed with the Surface Transportation Board (STB) a renewed motion for approval of its voting trust that outlines the case for approval of the voting trust to advance the CN-KCS merger. As part of the application, CN is committing to divesting KCS's 70-mile line between New Orleans, LA and Baton Rouge, LA which is under 0.7% of the approximately 27,000 route-miles the two companies operate.

In a statement on May 27, Canadian Pacific officials critiqued CN's plan to sell KCS's line between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The statement (click here to view), calls the plan "inadequate" and fails to eliminate anticompetitive issues. Additionally, four labor unions, referring to themselves as the Allied Rail Unions (ARU), have submitted comments to the STB regarding the potential CN-KCS merger. The unions expressed concern over the competition between CN and CP and how the two are pursuing a KCS merger. The four unions that comprise the ARU are the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division-IBT, Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers-Mechanical Division, and National Conference of Firemen and Oilers.
U.S. Senate EPW Committee Unanimously Approves Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021

On May 26, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a Full Committee Business Meeting to markup the highway and climate measures in the surface transportation reauthorization package, in addition to consideration of various Executive Branch nominees and General Services Administration resolutions. The bill was approved 20-0 and would increase funding levels for covered programs by about 34% over the FAST Act - about $311 billion in budget authority over five years.

During the markup, Chairman of the Committee Tom Carper (D-DE) discussed the importance of an infrastructure proposal by Memorial Day, and mentioned that the bill will modernize highway programs, address safety, equity, and climate at the same time, and create jobs. Ranking Member of the Committee Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) reiterated Carper's sentiments on the importance of the bill and bipartisan collaboration. She also mentioned that providing resources for roads and bridges in a fiscally responsible manner will ultimately give states flexibility in long-term planning and will keep federal interest focused on maintaining a connected infrastructure network that help the economy thrive.

Up next, the Senate Banking, Commerce, and Finance Committees all have titles to produce before the bill can reach the floor. Additionally, the House of Representatives will release its reauthorization proposal after the Memorial Day recess and will likely have a bill markup on June 9. NRC Staff will continue to monitor the on-going discussions on Capitol Hill and will share relevant news and updates on our website at
Lawmakers Reintroduce Proposed Grade Crossing Safety Act

On May 26, U.S. Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass), a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and U.S. Representative Richard Neal (D-Mass), chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, have reintroduced the Warren Cowles Grade Crossing Safety Act.

The bill would modify an existing rail safety grant program and increase federal funding for crossing improvement projects to $250 million each year. The increased funding would help prevent fatalities by supporting installation of grade separations, crossing signals, gates, lights and other barriers or cautionary signage at crossings nationwide. To view a copy of the Warren Cowles Grade Crossing Safety Act, please click here.
Texas Central signs $1.6B pact with Kiewit for bullet train electric system installation

On May 4, the Texas Central Railroad signed a contract with NRC Members Kiewit Infrastructure South Co. and affiliate Mass Electric Construction Co. to install the core electrical systems needed for the proposed Dallas to Houston bullet train to operate. The $1.6 billion contract with Kiewit calls for the installation of core electrical systems including critical safety and systems elements like traction power, signaling and communications equipment to enable the trains to operate safely and ensure the tracks and operators communicate with one another and within the network's operations.

Carlos Aguilar, chief executive officer of Texas Central Railroad said, "Kiewit and Mass. Electric are national leaders in installing complex and large-scale electric systems and have long track records of delivering high-quality rail systems safely and effectively...combining their experience with the safety of an integrated system is essential to the operation of the Texas Central Railroad." Texas Central, which includes subsidiary Texas Central Railroad, is the company developing the newly proposed high-speed passenger line that will connect North Texas and Greater Houston in less than 90 minutes, with one stop in the Brazos Valley.
FMCSA issues Regional Emergency Declaration to address Colonial pipeline hack

On May 9, the Regional Field Administrators for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Eastern, Southern, and Western Service Centers declared that an emergency exists that warrants issuance of a Regional Emergency Declaration and an exemption from Parts 390 through 399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety (FMCSRs), except as otherwise restricted in the Emergency Declaration.

By execution of this Emergency Declaration, motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance to the emergency in the Affected States in direct support of relief efforts related to the shortages of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other refined petroleum products due to the shutdown, partial shutdown, and/or manual operation of the Colonial pipeline system are granted relief from Parts 390 through 399 of Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations except as restricted herein.

The Emergency Declaration is in response to the unanticipated shutdown of the Colonial pipeline system due to network issues that affect the supply of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other refined petroleum products throughout the affected States. The declaration addresses the emergency conditions creating a need for immediate transportation of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other refined petroleum products and provides necessary relief to affected states and jurisdictions included in Alabama, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. To see more information, please click here.
NTSB Releases Final Report on 2018 Train Collision

On May 20, the National Transportation Safety Board released an executive summary on the June 5, 2018 collision of a BNSF Railway Intermodal train in Kingman, AZ. The train was operating in multiple main track in centralized traffic control territory when it collided with the rear of a slow moving work train. The collision occurred in an area known as Crozier Canyon, which is about 33 miles east of Kingman, AZ. Unfortunately, the collision resulted in the death of one employee on the work train, and another employee was seriously injured.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the failure of the BNSF Railway train crew of the intermodal train to operate in accordance with restricted speed requirements and stop short of the opposing train. Contributing to the accident was (1) BNSF Railway’s failure to establish sufficient on-track safety and (2) the Federal Railroad Administration’s interpretation of Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations Part 214 Subpart C that allows work trains to lay rail without using a form of on-track safety. To view the full executive summary, please click here.
NRC New Member Spotlight

With NRC membership renewals for 2021 underway, we wanted to take the opportunity to highlight some of our new members that have joined in 2021! Each monthly bulletin, NRC staff will promote new and long-time members as a thank you for their continued support.

This month, we would like to highlight a few of our new members: GCF Railworks, Inc., JP Sicard, Inc., and Rail Technical Services.
Not an NRC member and want to access to this and many other membership benefitsJoin as an NRC member today! If you have any questions about joining the NRC, or your organization's current membership status, please simply reply to this email.
NRC Grassroots Events Survey

The NRC is dedicated to serving the needs of NRC Members and the railroad contractor and supplier community, and that includes making sure that our members have their voices heard on Capitol Hill. Members of Congress frequently mention in-person visits and site visits as one of the most effective ways to convey the importance of the industry.

As 2021 continues and the economy and nation begin to return to normal, we want to take the opportunity to gauge NRC member companies on their desire to host a Member of Congress or staff for in-person member facility visits. We are very curious to hear if there is interest in these visits from NRC members. If you are, please click here to fill out our short grassroots survey.

If you have any questions, or would like to talk with NRC staff about our grassroots program further, please email
Industry News and Updates
On May 27, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) announced they had suspended light-rail service until further notice as the community mourns victims of a fatal mass shooting that occurred at the Guadalupe Light Rail Yard in San Jose, California. A motive of the shooting is not known at this time, however the shooter was identified as a VTA employee. Nine people, including the shooter, died. The VTA posted on its website the names of the victims: Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, age 63; Adrian Balleza, 29; Alex Ward Fritch, 49; Jose Dejesus Hernandez III, 35; Lars Kepler Lane, 63; Michael Joseph Rudometkin, 40; Paul Delacruz Megia, 42; Taptejdeep Singh, 36; and Timothy Michael Romo, 49. The NRC sends its thoughts, condolences, and best wishes to those impacted by this tragic event.

On May 24, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) held a ceremonial groundbreaking. They were joined by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and other officials to mark the start of major construction on the third and final section of the Purple (D Line) Extension Project that will connect downtown L.A. and the Westside via a high-speed, high capacity subway in 2027. The project is $3.6 billion and received a $1.3 billion federal grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. “The Purple Line Expansion is the key that will unlock our transportation future and open doors of opportunity across our city — and today’s groundbreaking moves us one step closer to completely redefining our relationship with public transit,” said L.A. City Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti. 

On May 3, Union Pacific Railroad published its 2020 Building America Report, the railroad's annual report on its environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives. The report unveils UP's new cumulative ESG strategy called "Building a Sustainable Future 2030," which includes four areas of concentration: investing in the UP workforce, driving sustainable solutions, championing environmental stewardship and strengthening the communities UP serves. "The COVID-19 pandemic taught the world about resiliency, something that's always been a part of our railroad's DNA," said UP Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Lance Fritz. He continued, "As a critical part of America's infrastructure, our ability to quickly respond to customers' evolving needs will continue to be critical long into the future as we face the impacts of climate change, social injustice, and other global crises."

Updates Expected on FRA Masking Emergency Order
NRC Staff has been engaged with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and a host of other federal agencies such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the FRA Masking Emergency Order 32 (EO32) currently in place. The responsible federal agencies are likely to update the E032 requirement in the coming weeks. The updates are expected to only be applicable to outdoor settings and will likely replace the masking requirement with guidance. The guidance will likely recommend that only unvaccinated people are recommended to continue wearing masks in outdoor work settings. For more information, please visit the USDOT/FRA FAQ page by clicking here.

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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