At the event, Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo touted the GROW AMERICA Act, the Obama Administration's four-year $302-billion reauthorization bill now before Congress, which will provide $19 billion for rail, including $2.3 billion to help passenger rail lines deploy and implement PTC systems.
"When you take a look at transportation policy, when you take a look at transportation challenges that our nation faces, passenger and freight rail will have to grow significantly in order to help up meet those challenges" noted Szabo. "It really does have to be about the transportation system it's about the network, it's about how these modes interact and connect with each other. Whether you're moving people or goods, that it can be safely, reliably and efficiently over the course of the entire journey using a mode that happens to be the most efficient for that particular part of that journey. In so many cases that is rail."
During his presentation, he highlighted the Local Rail Facilities and Safety funding line, which he said would greatly benefit shortlines.
"This line would fund grants to communities for projects like rail line relocation, grade crossing importance and looking for opportunities to seal corridors," explained Szabo. "The safest grade crossing is one that doesn't exist. Where do we have these opportunities to much more aggressively eliminate grade crossings and strategically place grade crossings and undercrossings?"
The event was filled with many breakout sessions, including one from Georgetown Rail Equipment Company entitled "Moving into a New Generation of Railroad Problem Solving," where Gregory Grissom, PE, vice president of engineering at the company glanced at industry trends, including traffic, energy movement, risk mitigation, turnover of experienced railroaders and capital spending and offered up predictions for the future in those areas.