September 2021 NRC Bulletin
October 4, 2021
NRC Updates and Announcements
Union Pacific Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Lance M. Fritz will be the Fireside Chat Keynote at the annual conference. Additionally, we are pleased to announce the following sessions have been confirmed, with many more to be announced in the coming weeks:

  • Union Pacific "Speed Networking" event, with more details to be announced in the coming weeks
  • Railroad Signals and Communication Panel, including confirmed speaker Carl Walker, Chief Engineer Communications and Signals, CSX
  • BNSF Capital Program and Opportunities for Contractors and Suppliers featuring Craig Rasmussen, AVP Engineering Services and Structures
  • A Union Pacific Capital Program and Opportunities for Contractors and Suppliers featuring Shane Keller, Vice President of Engineering, with other freight railroad Capital Programs to be announced in the coming weeks
  • FRA Part 243 Training Rules, FAMES and SOFA Update with Rob Castiglione, Staff Director, Railroad Safety Partnerships, FRA and Cory Johnson, Specialist, Railroad Safety Partnerships, FRA
  • A Rail Sustainability Panel, featuring Kayden Howard, VP Health, Safety & Environmental, KCS, with other panelists to be announced in the coming weeks
  • Railroad Government Affairs Panel, which will give an update on Transportation Legislation and Policy Priorities in the 117th Congress and Beyond
  • A presentation on The Role of Equity Companies in the Rail Contracting Market, featuring 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 registration rate discount. Not currently an NRC member? Please visit for more information. If you have any questions regarding registration or your membership status please contact Mike McGonagle at 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.

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

Event Sponsorships: The NRC offers its members the opportunity to sponsor all or a portion of a specific conference function. General session and event sponsorships are open and available for reservation. To view the most current 2022 NRC 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.

Questions? Contact Mike McGonagle at or 202-975-0365.
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.
House Negotiating IIJA, Congress Passes Stopgap Funding Bill

As of late afternoon on October 1, the House of Representatives has still not called for a vote on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). Negotiations between the House, Senate, and White House continue in order to strike a broad deal on IIJA and the budget reconciliation package. The NRC’s legislative team and Policy and Legislative Committee (PLC) are actively engaged on the bill and encourage the House to pass the bipartisan IIJA bill. Currently, a short term extension of the FAST Act is being prepared to buy the negotiators more time.
On September 30, with government shutdown slated to go into effect at midnight, Congress was able to pass a 9-week stopgap bill in a 254-175 vote in the House, after a 65-35 vote in the Senate. After passing the House, the bill was signed by President Biden, giving Congress until December 3 to work out a broader deal on appropriations for the remainder of the fiscal year.
2021 NRC Scholarship Deadline Extended to October 15

In order to ensure that the NRC Scholarship Committee receives as many high-quality applications as possible, the deadline for the 2021 NRC Scholarship application has been extended to COB October 15.

As a reminder, three total scholarships will be awarded as follows: the first place applicant will receive $12,000, the second place applicant will receive $6,000, and the third place applicant will receive $3,000. Scholarship funds, awarded annually, will be sent directly to the student at the beginning of the next term of study. Students must be in attendance for a full year following receipt of the award.

Please compile the completed application with all required materials and send directly by email to with "2021 NRC Scholarship Application" in the subject line. If you have any questions, please reach out to NRC staff by email at or phone at 202-975-0365.
CP and KCS Execute Agreement to Combine, STB Rejects CN's Proposed Voting Trust 

On September 15, Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) and Kansas City Southern (KCS) announced they have entered into a merger agreement, under which CP has agreed to acquire KCS in a stock and cash transaction representing an enterprise value of approximately $31 billion. The transaction, which has the unanimous support of both boards of directors, values KCS at $300 per share. “Our path to this historic agreement only reinforces our conviction in this once-in-a-lifetime partnership,” said CP President and Chief Executive Officer Keith Creel, pictured right.

The September 15 announcement comes weeks after negotiations between Canadian National (CN) and KCS came to a halt on August 12 when KCS delayed a shareholder vote on the merger to wait for the Surface Transportation Board's decision on CN's proposed voting trust structure. On August 31, the STB announced that it had rejected CN's proposed voting structure, which lead to the September 4 announcement by KCS that it would initiate talks with CP.
NTSB Urges Railroads to Better Protect Rail Roadway Workers

On September 30, the National Transportation and Safety Board called on the Federal Railroad Administration and Amtrak to put an immediate end to the use of "train approach warning" (TAW) as the sole method of on-track safety in areas covered by positive train control (PTC). TAW is an older method of using designated watchmen to look out for approaching trains in a work zone; by using TAW instead of available protections provided by PTC, Amtrak circumvented important PTC safety features.

During an April 24, 2018 accident where an Amtrak rail watchman was killed in Bowie, Maryland, the NTSB determined that Amtrak's insufficient site-specific safety work plan for the Bowie project did not adequately consider the challenges of multiple main tracks in a high-noise environment. The recommendation issued Thursday to the FRA and Amtrak address safety issues including inadequate site safety risk assessment, unsafe train speeds in work zones, the failure to use positive train control to protect roadway workers and ineffective roadway worker protection. “More action needs to be taken to protect train crews, maintenance-of-way employees, and mechanical workers from getting killed or injured,” said NTSB board Member Thomas Chapman, who has focused on improving the safety of railway workers.
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 members are: Harsco Rail and RailPros
In order to provide instant over air support the Protran Technology group has been deploying a new 4G telematics system called MARS (Mobile Asset Remoting System). This system provides web access to periodic machine system and production information updates and serves as a gateway for remote observation, troubleshooting, and software updates. 

The deployment of this system has allowed trainers, service techs, and software engineers to quickly address field issues by remotely accessing Harsco Rail equipment.
On Track Safety Supplement (OTSS) is an internal app developed by RailPros, which is free and available for download. It is a safeguard to protect against common industry incidents such as forgotten flags, misplaced flags, vacant bulletin protections, unannounced red flags, and more. This tool greatly reduces the potential risks associated with a train crew initiating a stop application due to encountering a forgotten, misplaced, or unannounced red flag.
Through Expected Geolocation Events (EGV) and a comprehensive notification system, OTSS identifies when there is a potential for an incident and notifies the management team. This early warning gives the team time to react, adjust, and resolve, before a threat becomes an incident.
The NRC Technology Committee encourages all NRC member companies to submit a 1-2 paragraph blurb and further information to NRC Staff at 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
Biden-Harris Administration Announce Corporate Vaccine Mandate, FRA Urges Railroads to Receive Vaccine

On September 9, the Biden-Harris Administration announced a new federal vaccine mandate for as many as 100 million Americans. To view the Executive Order, please click here. The plan to confront COVID-19 mandates federal workers and contractors and certain healthcare workers, as well as requires employees at companies with 100 or more workers to be vaccinated or tested weekly.

On September 28, the Federal Railroad Administration issued a request to railroad industry partners encouraging them to urge their employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The most recently reported COVID-19 cases FRA received from the railroad industry indicates that after 10 weeks of rising numbers, that the industry has reported two consecutive weeks with decreasing cases. The FRA views that as encouraging, and strongly encourages railroads to build on this momentum.

Additionally, on September 21, US passenger railroad Amtrak said that it will require nearly all of its 18,000 employees be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by November 22. The November 22 date is in accordance with the Executive Order's requirement of federal employees and contractors to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
NRC Members: Share your Transit Contracting Success Stories!

The NRC is dedicated to serving the needs of NRC Members and the railroad contractor and supplier community. That includes making sure that our members have their voices, importantly their success stories, heard on Capitol Hill and by Transit Agencies across North America.

In an effort to convey the benefit and role that NRC members play in the transit contracting space, we are requesting that any NRC member who has or would like to share a success story or anecdote about their organization/company partnering with a transit agency for a project or series of projects reach out to NRC staff at 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, 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
Industry News and Updates
On September 30, Bernhard Capital Partners Management LP, a services and infrastructure-focused private equity management firm, announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire NRC member RailWorks Corp from Wind Point Partners, a Chicago-based private equity firm. The transaction is expected to close in fourth-quarter 2021, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, with financial terms not disclosed. Following the transaction, NRC Board of Director Kevin Riddett will continue to serve as RailWorks' president and chief executive officers. "RailWorks has enjoyed unprecedented growth over the last decade, and we are excited to see that continue with Bernhard Capital's ownership and expertise," said Riddett.

On September 30, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced it is seeking the input of transit industry personnel, researchers, contractors, government entities, transit users, and other interested parties to make American transit safer. FTA has put out a Request for Information soliciting public input on potential transit worker safety mitigations, including potential minimum safety standards for Roadway Worker Protection programs. “Safety is paramount in the transit industry, and the Biden-Harris administration is committed to ensuring we are doing everything we can to ensure approaches for the workers who make our transit systems possible,” said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez. 

On September 27, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced that the Amtrak train that derailed September 25 near Joplin, Montana was traveling between 75 and 78 mph, which is below the speed limit for passenger trains on that section of track. The NTSB's 14 investigators began their first full day of assessing the site to determine the potential cause of the derailment, which unfortunately killed three people and injured 50. The team, which expects to be site for the next week, will interview train crews from Amtrak as well as train and track inspection crews from BNSF Railway Co., which owns the track on which the passenger train was traveling when it derailed. The NTSB is leading the investigation, with assistance from Amtrak, BNSF, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), and labor unions.

On September 20, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced that the Biden-Harris administration will designate 44 projects around the country as INFRA Extra, making them eligible to apply for credit assistance for up to 49% of costs. These projects made it to the final round for funding under the 2021 INFRA competitive grant program, but were not awarded due to a combination of overwhelming demand for INFRA grants and limited funds. “Every year, the Department receives far more qualified applications for the INFRA program than we can fund,” said Deputy Transportation Secretary Polly Trottenberg, “We’re excited to give some of the most promising INFRA finalists a chance to receive a TIFIA loan instead, so we can help advance transformative infrastructure projects all across the country.”

On September 8, Canadian National (CN) announced that vaccination against COVID-19 will be mandatory for all its employees in Canada as of November 1, 2021. CN's vaccination policy will apply to all employees and new hires in Canada, and its wholly owned subsidiaries. It will also apply to CN's contractors, consultants, agents and suppliers and anyone who accesses CN's Canadian properties. Requests for medical or religious exemptions will be considered by CN on an individual basis.
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