Conversations at the short line and regional railroad's annual gathering

Posted by Jim Wrinn
on Monday, April 9, 2018

Greetings from Nashville, Tenn., where we are exhibiting and writing about the nation’s more than 500 short line and regional railroads at the annual conference of the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association. Here’s a quick postcard of the conversations that we’re hearing often at this gathering of industry professionals. What we’re hearing this year is among the widest ranging and wildest in terms of tone. Some samples:

“I’m surprised that Amtrak went as far as it did with private car moves and special trains. It seems extreme. I hope they walk at least some of it back.”

“The Class I railroads are a mess. They can’t get us cars. We have business for them, but they cannot handle it.”  

“We’re seeing new industry that is involved in producing heavy, bulky items locating new plants off rail. It’s discouraging. We need to educate a new generation of industrial site specialists that railroads are important, and they need us at least as an option.”

“We had a slow January and February, but come March, our business just took off.”

“We had a better year in 2017 than we realized.”

“We’re going to be able to get new locomotives.”

“We’ve got a new train running seven days a week. It’s great traffic for us.”

“How will CSX win back all of that business?”

"We should have had a field trip on the commuter train here in Nashville." 

Interestingly, so far, there have been few if any conversations that we’ve been privy to about Positive Train Control, Federal Railroad Administration oversight, or any other changes at Amtrak. What we have seen once again is a lot of hard working railroaders who come up with creative solutions to the age old problem of how to move freight (and in some case passengers, commuters, or tourists) as safely and as efficiently as possible.

We’ll try and report from some of the breakout sessions later today, and be sure to watch news wire for a story about Tuesday’s speech from BNSF Railway Executive Chairman Matt Rose.  



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