October 2021 NRC Bulletin
October 29, 2021
NRC Updates and Announcements
October 30 is the last day to register for the 2022 NRC Conference and NRC-REMSA Exhibition at the discounted early-bird rate! You do not want to miss out on your opportunity to attend the premier networking event in the railroad industry. Register today for the opportunity to hear from the following speakers who are confirmed for the NRC 2022 Conference:

  • Lance Fritz, CEO, UP ***Fireside Chat Keynote***
  • Adrian Arnakis, SVP Government Affairs, AAR
  • Carl Walker, Chief Engineer C&S, CSX
  • Chris Krakar, Chief Engineering Officer, METRA
  • Clark Pontier, SVP – Supply Chain & Continuous Improvement, UP
  • Cory Johnson, Specialist, Railroad Safety Partnerships, FRA
  • Craig Rasmussen, AVP Engineering Services & Structures, BNSF
  • Dave Kannenberg, Regional Administrator, FRA
  • David Smat, General Director of Environmental Operations, BNSF
  • Donna DeMartino, Managing Director of the Los Angeles–San Diego–San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) Rail Corridor
  • Ed Sparks, Chief Engineer - Bridges, Design & Construction, CSX
  • Ed Boyle, VP of Engineering, NS
  • Jay McAndrew, General Director Signal, UP
  • Kari Gonzales, President & CEO, TTCI
  • Kayden Howard, VP Health, Safety & Environmental, KCS
  • Laura McNichol, SVP Government and Industry Relations, Watco
  • Mark Delaney, Acting Chief Project Delivery Officer, METRA
  • Michael P. Freeman, PE, President of AREMA and Dir Structures Design, UP
  • Mike Long, Director of Railroad Operations and Outreach, FRA
  • Printz Bolin, VP External Relations, UP
  • Rob Castiglione, Staff Director, Railroad Safety Partnerships, FRA
  • Sam Noe, Drug and Alcohol Program Specialist, FRA
  • Scott Bannwart, VP of Engineering, Patriot Rail
  • Shae Birkey, Safety Leadership Adviser, Caterpillar Inc
  • Shane Keller, VP of Engineering, UP
  • Tom Hilliard, Chief S&C, CN
  • Tom Holmes, Vice President – Purchasing & Materials, Watco
  • Tony Hatch, Senior Transportation Analyst, ABH Consulting

Wednesday, January 5, 2022
  • Registration: 8:00 am – 7:30 pm
  • Exhibitor Set-up: 8:00 am – 4:30 pm
  • Reception in Exhibit Hall: 4:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Thursday, January 6, 2022
  • General Session: 7 am - 8:45 am; 10:15 am - 12:15 pm
  • Exhibits: 8:45 am - 10:15 am, 12:15 pm - 1:45 pm; 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
  • Seminars: 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Friday, January 7, 2022
  • General Session: 7:30 am - 11 am
  • Exhibits Tear Down: 7:30 am - 12:00 pm
  • Hiking Excursion (off-site) 12:00pm - 5:00pm
  • Golf (on-site): 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Saturday, January 8, 2022
  • General Session: 7:30 am - 12:15 pm
  • Finale Reception: 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
NRC members receive a significant conference registration discount. Not currently an NRC member? Please visit https://www.nrcma.org/join-nrc for more information. If you have any questions regarding registration or your membership status please contact Mike McGonagle at mmcgonagle@nrcma.org or call 202-975-0365.

Hotel: The NRC has secured a room block for conference attendees at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa. You may make your hotel reservations through our passkey link here or by calling the JW Marriott Desert Ridge directly at 1-800-835-6206.Make sure to mention the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Conference to receive the discounted room rate. All guest rooms must be guaranteed with a non-refundable deposit for the first night’s room and tax. Due to high demand, the NRC room block at the JW Marriott is currently full on January 7 and 8. Please visit the NRC Conference website for the most up-to-date housing information as it becomes available. If you would like to be added to the wait list for the hotel please contact Mike McGonagle at mmcgonagle@nrcma.org.

Exhibit Hall: Exhibit space for the 2022 NRC-REMSA Exhibition is on sale now! For questions regarding booths, see the links below or contact Urszula Soucie at (202) 844-6026 or by email at soucie@remsa.org.

Event Sponsorships: General session and event sponsorships are open and available for reservation. To view the most current NRC 2022 Conference Sponsorship form please click here. Get positive exposure for your company with some of the planned marketing opportunities:
  • Sponsor ribbon on conference badges
  • Sponsor recognition on the NRC website in lead-up to the Conference
  • Sponsor recognition in NRC Conference emails to attendees, and NRC monthly bulletin
  • Signage with your company logo throughout the venue 
  • Recognition at the event
  • Your company logo printed inside of the NRC Conference Program Guide.

Sponsor up to 2 golf holes per company at the 2022 NRC Conference Golf Tournament on January 7, 2022. Priced at $250 per hole. Golf hole sponsorships are a cost-effective way to sponsor at the 2022 NRC Conference and receive brand recognition at the premier railroad industry golf event.

Questions? Visit the NRC conference webpage or contact Mike McGonagle at mmcgonagle@nrcma.org or 202-975-0365.
SCAM ALERT: We ask that our members and conference attendees be vigilant of scams including any solicitations via phone or email that offer hotel deals or conference registration lists on behalf of the NRC. These groups are not affiliated with the NRC. Please check the NRC website or contact staff directly for the most up-to-date conference information.
Thank you to our NRC 2022 Conference Sponsors!
CN's Ruest to Retire

On October 19, Canadian National (CN) announced that Chief Executive Officer Jean-Jacques Ruest plans to retire by the end of January 2022. Ruest has been with CN for over 25 years and served as CEO since 2018. "We are grateful for his leadership and his exemplary commitment of service to the Company and wish him the all the best in his upcoming retirement," said Chairman Robert Pace in a press release.

The surprise announcement came one day after TCI Fund Management Ltd., CN's second-largest investor, released a presentation on its plans to make the railway more efficient and profitable. The firm has nominated four directors to the CN board and pushed for Ruest to be replaced by Jim Vena, the company's former chief operating officer. Ruest said the board is looking for the best possible replacement for him and said TCI’s proposal for change “is not a plan in itself.” The board “is not on the clock. It doesn’t mean they will go slow,” Ruest said of the CEO search.
TSA to Issue Cybersecurity Rules for Rail, Aviation Industries

On October 6, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced that it would soon issue cyber regulations covering the rail and aviation sectors. This expected TSA directive comes as the Biden-Harris administration attempt to boost the digital defenses of critical infrastructure companies that are being targeted by cyberattacks.

Under the TSA security directive expected later this year, railroad operators and rail transit companies will have to designate a lead cyber employee, report any hacks to Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and develop incident response plans to guide their recovery from cyberattacks. The Association of American Railroads (AAR) mentioned the impending TSA directive is duplicative of ongoing efforts to thwart threats and suggested and it was done without adequate time for stakeholders to weigh in. Per the directive, operators would have to undertake actions already in place, and would have difficulty meeting the short timeframe to report any feedback.
FRA's Releases 40-year Midwest Regional Rail Plan

On October 13, the Federal Railroad Administration released a 40-year, multi-state framework for "restoring, modernizing, and expanding" the intercity passenger rail network in the Midwest. Anchoring the plan, is Chicago, IL however the plan prioritizes four "pillar corridors" for rail development. The plan will connect Chicago to other cities: Minneapolis/-St. Paul, MN, St. Louis, MO, Indianapolis, IN, and Detroit, MI. The group explored many options "beyond the hub-and-spoke connections to other large metropolitan areas" but found "the strength of Chicago's rail hub cannot be ignored.

The study also emphasized that development, including more emphasis on higher speed lines, could help build the case for even more city connections at the “regional/core express level,” meaning frequent service with an emphasis on electric power and dedicated tracks. The Midwest Regional Rail Plan, which examined the potential for Midwest passenger rail development through 2055, is the product of a two-year partnership between the FRA and the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission, along with state and local governments and industry groups, Amtrak, freight railroads and more. To view the plan, please click here.
Request for Information on Transit Worker Safety

On September 24, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) published a Request for Information (RFI) solicits public input regarding safety topics that affect transit workers in two areas: Rail transit Roadway Worker Protection (RWP) and transit worker assault prevention. FTA will use this information to evaluate potential actions to mitigate the identified safety risk for transit workers. Comments are requested by November 23, 2021. To submit comments, please click here.

The FTA administers the Public Transportation Safety Program (Safety Program) to improve the safety performance of the Nation's transit systems. FTA adopted the principles and methods of Safety Management Systems (SMS) as the foundation of the Safety Program. FTA uses SMS processes and activities to proactively identify and address safety risk at the industry level. To view the RFI and other info on the federal register notice, please click here.
California Passenger Rail Agencies Form Advocacy Coalition

On October 22, the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA), the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) Rail Corridor Agency and San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA) announced the formation of California's Intercity Rail Corridors Linking Everyone (CIRCLE), which is an advocacy coalition. "We look forward to working together with our sister agencies to raise awareness about our growing rail corridor services and the important role our state plays in maintaining Amtrak’s state-supported services," said Donna DeMartino, managing director of LOSSAN, in a news release.

The coalition will seek to educate federal policymakers on the nature of Amtrak stat-supported services, raise awareness of California's growing passenger-rail system and proposed capital investments, and build stronger relationships with national intercity rail stakeholders. The Capitol Corridor route provides service between San Jose, Oakland, Sacramento and Auburn, and is managed by the CCJPA; the Pacific Surfliner route provides service between San Diego, Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo, and is managed by the LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency; and the San Joaquins route provides service between Bakersfield, Oakland and Sacramento, and is managed by the SJJPA.
NRC Technology Spotlight

The NRC and the NRC Technology Committee are pleased to share the inaugural NRC Technology Spotlight section. The NRC Technology Committee's mission is to promote the use of technology to enhance safety and operations for NRC members and the railroad industry. With that in mind, each monthly bulletin the NRC will share a 1-2 paragraph blurb about a specific technology or innovative product that an NRC member is working on. This month's NRC Technology Spotlight member is: Holland LP
Holland’s LiDAR powered by Cordel provides customers with a range of data applications such as track imagery, clearance validation, line of sight measurements, condition assessments and more. Using track geometry and LiDAR data applications, customers can see a digital twin of their infrastructure and make the most of their track inspections. By coupling Cordel’s LiDAR equipment with Holland’s already in-service track inspection vehicles, customers can maximize their inspection data without the need for additional track time.
“It’s an exciting time for our customers to experience even more data provided to our already existing suite of track measurement products and services. We’re excited to combine our best-in-class track inspection services with the best-in-class LiDAR technology.” Said Russ Newberg, Holland’s Director of Operations, Rail Measurements Systems and Services division.
The NRC Technology Committee encourages all NRC member companies to submit a 1-2 paragraph blurb and further information to NRC Staff at info@nrcma.org. Please note that the NRC Technology Committee Spotlight is intended to increase awareness of technology and innovation in the industry, and by no means is an endorsement of specific member companies. If you have any questions, or would like to talk with NRC staff about this initiative further, please email info@nrcma.org.
NRC Member RCC Shares Transit Contracting Success Story

During the winter of 2021, NRC member Railroad Construction Co. (RCC) crews tackled a fast-paced operation for the Potomac Yard Metrorail Station project in Alexandria, VA. As temperatures plunged below freezing, the crews worked on cutting Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) train tracks into two sections, allowing Potomac Yard Constructors (PYC), a joint venture, to install communication and electrical duct banks for construction of the new Metrorail station. In preparation for the open-cut excavation work, RCC had to temporarily remove existing 45-ft sections of track panels - one in each track, including third rail. Next, PYC workers set the massive duct banks within the newly opened 80-ft section between the panels. Rail operations returned to normal, ahead of the schedule 72-hour track outage WMATA had set.

Want to share your company's transit contracting success story? Submit your story to NRC staff at info@nrcma.org or by telephone at 202-975-0365. Please note that any story or anecdote shared with staff will remain anonymous and no proprietary information will be disseminated. If you or your organization is interested in sharing a story like the one above or a similar one, please make sure to include a reference to Transit Contracting Success Story in your email subject line or by telephone. If you have any questions, or would like to talk with NRC staff about this initiative further, please email info@nrcma.org.
Industry News and Updates
On October 28, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a preliminary report on the Sept 25. derailment of an Amtrak train in Montana that resulted in three passenger fatalities. The Amtrak Empire Builder train was carrying 154 people when it derailed in a right-hand curve on the BNSF Railway Co. Hi Line Subdivision near Joplin, MT. NTSB investigators conducted track and equipment inspections, reviewed signal and train control data logs, obtained data from the lead locomotive’s forward-facing image recorder and event recorder and conducted interviews. The agency’s investigation is ongoing, with future activity focused on track and engineering, equipment, survival factors and passenger rail-car crashworthiness. To read the report, please click here.

On October 28, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced new COVID-19 pandemic-era subway ridership records on the New York City Subway, Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and Metro-North Railroad. Subway ridership continued a robust recovery with daily ridership surpassing 3.1-million riders for three consecutive days (Oct. 19-21), with a new pandemic-era record set on Oct. 21 at 3,264,278, MTA officials said. “These ridership records are really encouraging,” said MTA Acting Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. “Life for New Yorkers is getting back to normal. People are going to Broadway shows and sporting events."

On October 27, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in San Pedro Bay, California announced they are assessing surcharges to carriers that dwell at the terminals, further affecting the on-going port congestion. Ocean carriers will be charged for each container that dwells nine days or more if scheduled to move by truck, or each container that dwells three days or more if scheduled to move by rail. Pre-pandemic, the average dwell time for truck delivery was under four days while the average for rail delivery was less than two days. About 40% of the port’s containers fall into these categories, Port of L.A. Executive Director Gene Seroka said in a press release.

On October 20, Norfolk Southern (NS) announced that in accordance with the Biden-Harris COVID-19 vaccine mandate and associated guidance that after careful review of the order that all employees must be vaccinated. "From the start of the pandemic, we’ve put a priority on maintaining safe and healthy workplaces as we pull together to keep our economy moving. We’ve encouraged employees to follow guidance from public health experts regarding vaccination, but we haven’t mandated vaccination as some companies have done. Our employees have diverse and often deeply held views on this topic, and we respect those differences...Now the situation has changed. The Biden Administration has issued an executive order and associated guidance mandating that federal contractors require vaccinations for all employees," stated an NS memo. NS follows Union Pacific (UP) who announced that it is "complying with the executive order requiring employees of federal contractors be fully vaccinated" by December 8.
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