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A word from
GoRail Board Chair
Jacqueline Gray

Assistant Vice President, Sourcing
Norfolk Southern Corporation

Heading into 2022, GoRail continues to focus on its core mission of educating the public and elected officials about the many ways railroads and our suppliers contribute to the economy and enhance the quality of life for all Americans.

I hope you will take a few moments to review this annual report, which shows that even under continued COVID-19 constraints, GoRail was able to effectively deliver its message about the public benefits of rail to thousands of county commissioners, state legislators, mayors, chambers of commerce, economic development professionals and other local leaders across the nation.

Read The Letter

GoRail Board Chair

A word from GoRail Board Chair

Jacqueline Gray

Heading into 2022, GoRail continues to focus on its core mission of educating the public and elected officials about the many ways railroads and our suppliers contribute to the economy and enhance the quality of life for all Americans.

I hope you will take a few moments to review this annual report, which shows that even under continued COVID-19 constraints, GoRail was able to effectively deliver its message about the public benefits of rail to thousands of county commissioners, state legislators, mayors, chambers of commerce, economic development professionals and other local leaders across the nation. The mere fact that hundreds of these individuals acted at key moments in support of a robust and resilient freight rail network is a testament to GoRail’s effectiveness. Their organizing work is more important than ever as railroads face several regulatory challenges that could undermine our ability to invest at high levels into infrastructure and continue to support our nation’s economy.

I look forward to serving as 2022 Chair of the GoRail Board of Directors, and I want to express my sincere gratitude to the thousands of community and business leaders; local, county, and state officials; and rail suppliers and contractors who collectively make GoRail such an important voice for our industry.


Jacqueline Gray - Chair
Assistant Vice President, Sourcing
Norfolk Southern Corporation

Here’s the
big picture.

GoRail’s team of five state directors are in constant contact with local leaders across the nation. They talk about the local impact of railroads, and how these efficient economic corridors are supported by private rail investments.

Their goal is to educate, recruit and mobilize local advocates around the policy issues in Washington D.C. impacting railroads and the customers and communities they serve back home.

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2,062
Educate, Recruit and Mobilize
Educational meetings + advocate actions = impact.
Let’s break that down.

Here’s what some of that work looked like in 2021. Like the railroads themselves, GoRail nimbly moved between topics and campaigns during a year packed with policy developments.

Rail 101 Education

In addition to our educational efforts at the local level, GoRail State Directors can be a resource to congressional staff.

Rail 101 Education

In addition to our educational efforts at the local level, GoRail State Directors can be a resource to congressional staff.

As the 117th Congress began its work in January, GoRail’s state directors reached out to the chiefs of staff, legislative directors and transportation legislative assistants for all members in the 34 states GoRail covers, sharing “Rail 101” information, 2021 policy priorities and state-specific info on the local importance of freight rail.

Railroad Day

GoRail recruited 21 local leaders to participate in Railroad Day on Capitol Hill 2021.

Railroad Day

GoRail recruited 21 local leaders to participate in Railroad Day on Capitol Hill 2021 to emphasize the district-level benefits of freight rail.

GoRail, together with folks across the freight rail community, from Class I and short line railroads to their suppliers and contractors, helped make the first-ever virtual Railroad Day a resounding success. The format allowed us to involve more advocates than any previous fly-in. Social media messages, in coordination with AAR and ASLRRA, reached an audience of 1.5 million and generated engagements and tweets from a dozen members of Congress.

Infrastructure Action

As Congress focused on infrastructure legislation, GoRail engaged our advocates to emphasize rail’s legislative priorities to policymakers.

Infrastructure Letters & Action Alert

As Congress focused on infrastructure legislation, GoRail engaged our advocates to emphasize rail’s legislative priorities to policymakers.

We recruited 100+ local leaders on a letter to members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and a letter to Senate Commerce members. We also activated our online Action Center, generating over 800 grassroots emails to congressional offices. The letters and grassroots messages conveyed priorities like restoring the Highway Trust Fund, ending modal inequity and preserving balanced economic regulation.

Executive Order Response

GoRail rapidly organized a group letter expressing concerns about the unintended consequences of regulatory overreach.

Executive Order Response

GoRail rapidly organized a group letter expressing concerns about regulatory overreach.

In July, the Biden Administration issued an Executive Order that included language directing railroads’ economic regulator, the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB), to consider issuing a rule mandating reciprocal switching among railroads. Rapidly following this announcement, GoRail recruited 31 moderate Democratic and non-partisan rail advocates from 25 states to sign a letter to the Secretary of Transportation, the Chairman of the STB, and the Deputy Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration expressing concerns about unintended consequences of regulatory overreach in the EO. In addition to issuing a press release covered by Progressive Railroading, AJOT, Freight Waves and Transportation Today, we also coordinated an op-ed co-authored by several of the letter signers, Rail Revolution Requires Smart Policy Choices.

Thank You Outreach

A powerful way to engage lawmakers and maintain positive relationships is giving thanks when possible.

Thank You Outreach

A powerful way to engage lawmakers and maintain positive relationships is giving thanks when possible.

After Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) led a member letter to the STB in August—urging the board to consider the impact of its regulatory actions on freight rail spending—GoRail secured local grasstop thank you messages to House Democrats who signed the letter. A few months later, following passage of the bipartisan infrastructure law in November, GoRail State Directors worked with local rail advocates to generate thank you messages to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee members who supported the legislation. We also took this message to social media, developing a thank you graphic that we used to thank all Senate Commerce and House T&I members supportive of the IIJA on Twitter, resulting in several engagements from members of Congress.

ASCE Report Card

We coordinated letters to the editor to highlight freight rail's place at the top of the 2021 infrastructure class.

ASCE Report Card Response

We highlighted freight rail's place at the top of the 2021 infrastructure class.

In response to the release of the 2021 Infrastructure Report Card by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), GoRail developed letters to the editor from our state directors highlighting rail’s positive grade and urging Congress to consider rail’s user-pays approach. Letters were published in The Denver Post, Daily Commercial (central Florida), Santa Fe New Mexican, Staten Island Advance, Post and Courier (Charleston) and the Dallas Morning News.

Sustainability in Focus

Across all of our efforts, GoRail worked to highlight the green advantages of freight rail.

Sustainability in Focus

Across all of our efforts, GoRail worked to highlight the green advantages of freight rail.

Railroads have an environmental edge within the goods movement industry, cutting down on greenhouse gases (GHG) by 75% on average over heavy trucks. GoRail continued to highlight this environmental edge across all organizing and in all communications, for example coordinating two Earth Day op-eds published in MassLive/The Republican and the Knoxville News Sentinel. We also calculated and added a new state-specific statistic to our website showing the amount of “GHG Saved” by rail in each state annually.

Regional Issues

State Directors also work on rail policy issues that arise on the state and regional levels.

Regional Issues

State Directors also work on rail policy issues that arise on the state and regional levels.

Southwest Operational Restrictions

GoRail’s Texas and Arizona State Director worked throughout the year to educate local leaders in those states about proposed border crossing restrictions and the prohibition on moving liquid natural gas (LNG) by rail. As a result of outreach this spring, the Lake Houston Chamber and the Economic Alliance of the Port of Houston sent letters to local House members and Senators Cruz and Cornyn opposing the proposed LNG prohibition. The North Texas Commission met with Reps. Colin Allred (TX-32) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30) on both issues ahead of the Transportation and Infrastructure committee’s markup of the INVEST in America Act. Also, the Laredo Economic Development Corporation (EDC) brought the border crossing issue before the Laredo/Nuevo Laredo working group, which includes governmental and economic development stakeholders on both side of the U.S.–Mexico border.

Indiana Truck Weight

GoRail joined Indiana’s railroads and the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks in opposing proposed truck weight increases in Indiana. We organized in targeted state house districts that overlapped with that of Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN), a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, resulting in five advocates contacting the local state representative. Additionally, Mayor Dennis Buckley of Beech Grove and Indiana Rail Road President Peter Mills co-authored an op-ed in the Indianapolis Business Journal. We also sustained a two-month paid Twitter campaign on the issue, driving over 150k impressions of educational content among a targeted local audience.

Supply Chain

As supply chain problems pervaded headlines, GoRail educated rail advocates, policymakers and the public about the role of railroads in keeping goods moving.

Supply Chain

As supply chain problems pervaded headlines, GoRail educated rail advocates, policymakers and the public about the role of railroads in keeping goods moving.

Across meetings and GoRail communications, we provided a breakdown of the situation from a rail perspective. A popular “explainer” blog post discussed what railroads have done to maximize throughput and address the challenges they confront as the “middle miles” of the U.S. supply chain. Additionally, State Directors issued state-specific newsletters to local advocates with information on the 24/7 operations of railroads.

Zooming in on Virtual Presentations

In addition to their one-on-one educational meetings, GoRail’s State Directors often have the opportunity to present to larger groups and organizations on topics from the public benefits of rail to the ins-and-outs of specific regulatory proposals, such as forced access. This year they presented to nearly two dozen such groups, including the sample below.

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Lawmaker-Advocate Connections

Research shows that direct constituent interactions have a meaningful influence on lawmakers’ decisions.


For this reason, we seek opportunities to forge lawmaker-advocate connections by organizing district meetings and rail facility and supplier tours. While COVID-19 has altered the logistics of these events in some cases, it has helped spur virtual meetings that might otherwise not have been possible. Here are a sample of those events in 2021.

U.S. Senator Tom Carper joined officials from the Delmarva Central Railroad on November 12 for a look at the operations of the Delaware-based short line railroad. Local leaders who joined the tour included the Commissioner of Sussex County, Mayor of the Town of Laurel, Mayor of the City of Seaford, State Representative Ruth Briggs King, and the Economic Development Director of Sussex County. They discussed the importance of freight rail to local job growth, public-private partnerships, and the new funding for rail-related projects available through the IIJA.

Rep. Michael Guest (R-MS) met virtually with the Mississippi Municipal League, the office of the Mayor of Jackson, and GoRail in March about the public benefits of rail and the industry's reauthorization priorities. Rep. Guest indicated his support for freight rail and intention to learn more.

Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), chair of the railroad subcommittee in the House, joined local leaders Chip Hallock, president and CEO of the Newark Regional Business Partnership, and Mayor Derek Armstead of Linden, NJ for a virtual district meeting in May. The discussion on rail’s local impact and policy priorities for infrastructure legislation was also joined by staff from the House rail subcommittee.

Rep. Marilyn Strickland (D-WA), vice chair of the railroad subcommittee in the House, joined several GoRail advocates for a virtual district meeting in July. Attendees included the Thurston County Chamber president, Thurston County Chamber legislative director (and former Mayor of Olympia), Puyallup Sumner Chamber CEO, Fife Milton Edgewood Chamber CEO, and the South Seattle Chamber president. The group discussed the importance of balanced economic regulation, the idea of modal equity, and how the adoption of a user-pays system could help sustain the Highway Trust Fund.

Rail in the News

Across dozens of opinion pieces that appeared in newspapers around the country, as well as our own original content, we continued to highlight key policy issues and the public benefits of freight rail in 2021.

We’re lucky to have Congressman Payne directing U.S. rail policy

We’re lucky to have Congressman Payne directing U.S. rail policy

by Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti. Published on March 9 in the Star-Ledger.
Rail Revolution Requires Smart Policy Choices

Rail Revolution Requires Smart Policy Choices

by Chip Hallock, president and CEO of the Newark Regional Business Partnership, Georgia State Sen. Emanuel Jones, and Marnie Primmer, executive director of FuturePorts. Published on August 24 in Morning Consult.
Investing in Freight Rail Can Also Get Us Back on Track

Investing in Freight Rail Can Also Get Us Back on Track

by John Shwed, Mayor of Laurel, Delaware. Published on December 12 in the Wilmington News Journal.
Stewardship

The majority of GoRail’s budget goes straight to the people and tools that help educate the public and mobilize local leaders on rail issues.

In a typical year, staff travel to key states and congressional districts is a major program expense. Eliminating almost all travel spending in 2021 under continued COVID-19 restrictions allowed us to achieve significant savings, but also skewed the 2021 ratio of grassroots program to administrative and fundraising costs.

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Looking Ahead
Russ McGurk, President of GoRail

GoRail continues to forge the connections that matter, despite two years of a pandemic and fundamental shifts in how we do what we do. We have learned, adjusted and continued to lead on advocacy efforts in the halls of Congress.

The importance of this work hasn’t changed. We are heading into a busy 2022 for rail policy on Capitol Hill as well as at the U.S. Surface Transportation Board and the Federal Railroad Administration. With over $100 billion being made available for rail-related projects under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, a major GoRail priority will be helping to ensure communities and other stakeholders have the information they need to take full advantage of new funding opportunities.

Our appreciation for everyone who makes this work possible also hasn’t changed. Thank you. And special thanks to the rail suppliers and contractors listed below, who provided much of the funding that made our work possible in 2021.

2021 GoRail Donors
Cranemasters, Inc.
Ames Construction
Amsted Rail
American Concrete Products Co.
EVRAZ North America
Herzog Companies
Holland LP
Hulcher Services Inc.
Koppers Inc.
L.B. Foster Company
Loram Maintenance of Way, Inc.
New York Air Brake
Polivka International
Progress Rail Services
RailWorks Corporation
RCL Services Group
REMSA
RJ Corman Railroad Group
Siemens Rail Automation Corporation
Special Fleet Service, Inc.
Standard Steel, LLC
Steel Dynamics, Inc. Structural & Rail Division
Stella-Jones Inc.
Strato, Inc.
TTX Company
Wabtec Corporation
Amerities Holdings LLC
Jay-Reese Contractors, Inc.
Anderzack-Pitzen Construction, Inc.
The Okonite Company
Ferrovia Services, LLC
Somerville Companies
GATX
Alstom
NRCMA
ARI
Hitachi Rail STS USA, Inc.
Omaha Track
Railway Systems Suppliers, Inc.
SEMA Construction
Timken
Trinity Rail
ZA Construction
AECOM
Direct Chassis Link
Gregori Construction
Genesis Rail Services, Inc.
The Greenbrier Companies