Washington, DC — March came in like a lion and went out like one, too, for the GoRail team. Our busy staff conducted over 225 meetings with community leaders across 11 states in the month of March, spreading the pro-rail message and rallying constituents to make sure their U.S. senators and representatives understand the importance of freight rail to their states and districts.
Typical meetings with county commissioners, chambers of commerce, mayors, or other leaders included a localized presentation demonstrating how a freight rail industry able to spend and invest in the rail network at a high level drives local economies, supports jobs and makes a safe rail network even safer, more productive and more efficient.
Given the common misimpression that railroads are taxpayer funded, which still exists even in the halls of Congress, these local education meetings are vital. When community leaders learn that railroads churn an average of $25 billion of their own money back into the rail network each year, they take notice.
Averaging 25 meetings per week-long “site visit” to a state, GoRail’s field staff endeavor to connect with influential constituents of key U.S. House and Senate committee members, laying the foundation for delivering a positive freight rail message to Congress.
As valuable as these one-on-one meetings are in terms of educating local leaders about freight rail technological innovation, for example, the GoRail team also arranges to speak in front of larger audiences to spread the positive message about rail. March presentations included the Pacific Northwest Association of Rail Shippers, the Contra Costa County (CA) Transportation Authority, the New England Rail Tech Conference, Michigan Senate Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and the California Association for Local Economic Development.
GoRail also joined industry representatives for five “statehouse freight rail days” in March, bringing the number of such outreach events to 12 so far in 2019. At March events in California, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, and North Carolina, GoRail helped drive ongoing efforts to educate state legislators about the ways balanced regulation fuels private sector investment in the rail network, and how this benefits local communities.
Another tool at our team’s disposal for events is a rail technology virtual reality experience that lets the viewer get up-close and personal to the technologies being deployed along the rail network. Dozens of legislators and local officials have already had the chance to fly along the side of a train to see how smart sensors, drones, fuel optimizers, positive train control systems and more work together to make rail safer and more efficient.
Look for a similarly aggressive pace in the months ahead as GoRail continues the work of spreading the word about the public benefits of a strong and thriving freight rail industry.