Representing the Short Line Industry - Telling Our Story

Experts from ASLRRA’s staff represent the short line industry, and particularly our members, testifying before a variety of Congressional and Regulatory bodies.  We are engaged in topics such as rail technology trends, economic impact of rail, increases in truck size and weight, regulations and compliance issues, customer service, interchange challenges, safety and tax policies such as the short line tax credit. Below you will find recent written testimonies given by ASLRRA on behalf of our members.



September 4, 2020:
ASLRRA filed comments with the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission (Commission), arguing on behalf of its railroad members against the implementation of their July 20 filing of a Preproposal Statement of Inquiry (CR-101) for a rulemaking to implement House Bill 1841 (HB 1841), Laws of 2020, Chapter 170, which pertains to the establishment of minimum crew sizes on certain trains. In addition to establishing a minimum crew size for Class I operations and all Class III operations over 25 m.p.h., HB 1841 also creates a novel definition of a “Class I” railroad, threatening to set a dangerous precedent for short lines who are owned by a holding company. In the state of Washington, these small railroads, by virtue of their affiliation with a holding company, will not be able to operate with a crew size of less than two people, even under the short line exclusion for operations under 25 m.p.h. In addition to policy considerations, ASLRRA argues that HB 1841 and any implementing regulations are preempted by the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA) and the ICC Termination Act (ICCTA).
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August 14, 2020:
ASLRRA and the AAR jointly filed a petition with the Federal Railroad Administration, requesting a waiver from 49 CFR 236.1021, which requires significant effort on the part of railroads for documentation, and FRA for review. Rather, the entities propose that if any material modification to PTC system and a PTCSP as contemplated by § 236.1021(h)(3)-(4) are made, that a host railroad (or AAR and ASLRRA on behalf of member railroads operating FRA-certified ITC PTC systems) would provide notification to FRA of such modifications in a more similar fashion to that provided when safety-critical modifications are made to a locomotive's electronics system under 49 C.F.R. Part 229, or when changes are made to Product Safety Plans under 49 C.F.R. § 236.913.
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July 26, 2020:
AASLRRA and the AAR jointly filed a petition with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requesting an exemption for railroad employees under 49 C.F.R. § 395.3(a) and (b) - Railroad Maintenance-of-Way for Drivers Responding to Unplanned Events. The petition asks that the FMCSA extend the recently granted exemption for railroad contractors to railroad employees. An unplanned event is one that affects interstate commerce or the safety of railway operations, including passenger rail operations, and that occurs outside or beyond the employee’s normal shift. The railroads request that this exemption be granted for five years as prescribed in § 381.300(b). This request covers approximately 20,000 individual drivers and 11,000 commercial motor vehicles (CMVs).
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July 10, 2020:
ASLRRA filed a petition with the Federal Railroad Administration, asking for reconsideration of certain provisions of the Risk Reduction Program (RRP) final rule.1 ASLRRA’s petition requests that FRA revise the provisions in the final rule pertaining to the determination of inadequate safety performance and how contractors are included in the RRP process. The agency should also provide clarity regarding the implementation deadlines.
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July 6, 2020:
ASLRRA Files Comments on EP 759 Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. In the comments, ASLRRA responded to four public comments that suggested that Class II and III railroads be included in the final rulemaking. ASLRRA urged the STB to continue to exclude Class II and IIIs from the proposed demurrage requirement as they did in the final rule of April 30, 2020.
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June 30, 2020:
ASLRRA joins AAR in responding to Executive Order 13924, requesting permanence of three temporary COVID waivers - 49 C.F.R. Part 228 – Quick Tie-Up; 49 C.F.R. § 240.127 – Recertification/Locomotive Event Recorder Downloads; 49 C.F.R. § 232.203 - Web-Based Training.
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April 24, 2020:
ASLRRA submitted a letter of support of AAR’s petition for a declaratory order that the STB finds that 49 U.S.C. § 10501(b) preempts the Clean Water Act’s discharge prohibition and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permitting regime as applied to discharge incidental to the normal operation of rail cars in transit.
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April 21, 2020:
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army published a final rule defining the scope of waters federally regulated under the Clean Water Act. ASLRRA and AAR submitted joint comments in support of the proposed rulemaking on April 14, 2019. 
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April 2, 2020:
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Railroad Administration has given ASLRRA 90 additional days to review the rule to determine whether to file a petition for reconsideration of the Risk Reduction Program.
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March 30, 2020:
ASLRRA joined AAR in a response to the Environmental Protection Agency‘s (EPA) Draft Methodologies for Estimating Port-Related and Goods Movement Mobile Source Emission Inventories. The response offers objections to the use of train counts vs. gross-ton miles for calculation of fuel use and emissions, the use of uncontrolled line-haul emissions on Class II/III movements which overestimates the size of the pre-1973 locomotive fleet and the use of a 2009 OTAC document in favor of more up-to-date data for forecasting emission factors.
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March 25, 2020:
ASLRRA requested that the Federal Railroad Administration extend the deadline for submitting a petition for reconsideration of the final Risk Reduction rule by 90 days to August 9, 2020, and to extend the effective date of the regulation by 90 days to August 19, 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19 on short line railroads.
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March 21, 2020:
ASLRRA joins AAR and APTA in an Emergency Relief Request under FRA-2020-0002 for a number of regulations for a period of at least 60 days, and so long as the declared national emergency remains in effect and while normal railroad operations and staffing levels are restored.
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March 16, 2020:
ASLRRA provided comments in response the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) request for information on improving and/or reforming regulatory enforcement and adjudication. ASLRRA provided suggestions in several areas – actions prior to the initiation of adjudication, during the settlement process, and the independence of government counsel.
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March 16, 2020:
ASLRRA filed comments in response the Federal Railroad Administration’s NPRM revising 49 C.F.R. Parts 218, 221 & 232, supporting the proposed codification of long-standing brake system safety standards, and provided additional comments on various aspects of the rule.
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March 10, 2020:
ASLRRA filed an amicus brief supporting DOT/FRA’s decision to withdraw the crew size rulemaking.
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March 2, 2020:
ASLRRA and AAR submitted joint comments in response to the Federal Railroad Administration’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NRPM) to revise its regulation governing Track Safety Standards (“TSS”) at 49 C.F.R. Part 213.1. AAR and ASLRRA generally support the NPRM proposals and the incorporation of the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee’s TSS Working Group’s work. In particular, they support the proposed codification of longstanding railroad industry waivers that have proven to provide for the safety of railroad operations. FRA’s proposals to codify the use of continuous rail testing to satisfy part 213 track inspection requirements illustrate regulatory flexibility, allowing for the expanded use of technology to enhance railroad safety for both Class I and smaller railroads.
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February 13, 2020:
In a letter to the Surface Transportation Board, ASLRRA responded to two issues concerning small railroads that arose during the testimony of some of the shipper witnesses in hearings on EP711 and EP 761 on December 12 and 13, 2019. ASLRRA requested that the Board disregard the comments or testimony of those shippers who advocated the imposition of the concept of reciprocal switching proposed in EP 711 (Sub-No. 1) in EP 761 and EP 722 as out of scope. Additionally, the Board should also disregard the use of URSCS as recommended by the RRFT within these matters. To do otherwise would be a manifest injustice to small railroads.
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February 10, 2020:
ASLRRA filed comments in response to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Request for Information: National Freight Strategic Plan. ASLRRA provided the short line industry perspective on questions posed, including the three most important challenges facing the U.S. freight transportation system, approaches to the multimodal freight system, and what barriers to freight efficiency (such as regulatory, technological, institutional, statutory) should DOT better understand.
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January 27, 2020:
ASLRRA filed comments in response to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Request for Information: Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success. ASLRRA called for the creation of a Disaster Recovery Program for rural railroads, a request to modify the financials required for applications to the RRIF Express program, and also offered suggestions making small ports eligible for the Port and Intermodal Improvement Program.
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