All politics is local, the saying goes, and U.S. railroads are taking their case for favorable public policy directly to the country's local political influencers.
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) issued a letter to mayors across the United States on June 8 pointing out the merits of the freight railroad industry to those who are at the front lines of local public policy decisions.
AAR said its letter summarized freight rail’s business and external relations efforts including its economic impact, safety record and technological gains and aspirations.
“A significant portion of the industry’s operations are regulated by the federal government, but our impact is felt strongly in towns and cities across this country,” said AAR President and Chief Executive Edward R. Hamberger. “While the industry will never stop in its pursuit to make our safe industry even safer, we are proud that our continued private investments help efficiently move goods throughout the U.S., serve myriad businesses that help support local economies and increasingly allow the industry to test and deploy innovative solutions. We feel it is important to extend our Washington-based dialogue to local policymakers to supplement the tireless work our members do every day in working with not just mayors, but their residents, businesses and safety officials.”
The letter makes particular mention of Positive Train Control (PTC), which the industry is on track to fully install as mandated by Congress, as well as AskRail, the digital platform designed in concert with International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and made available to qualified first responders to access critical rail information in the case of an emergency. AskRail, along with constantly occurring training events held throughout the country, is some of the most tangible ways in which railroads interact with local communities.
The letter also makes note of continued, misguided efforts by select trucking interests to convince members of Congress to increase federal weight and length limits for large, commercial trucks – something that organizations such as the National League of Cities (NLC) and National Association of Counties (NACo) typically oppose.
AAR concluded the letter by saying, “As mayors, you are at the vanguard of public policy, directly engaged with your constituents. We hope that as you guide your locality that you consider the contents of this letter, understanding that private freight railroads are a safe, affordable, efficient and environmentally friendly way to move goods.”