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A word from
GoRail Board Chair
Paul Bischler

V.P. Controller and Chief Sourcing Officer

BNSF Railway

Heading into its 15th year, GoRail continues to do an outstanding job 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.

Thanks to GoRail, hundreds of county commissioners, state legislators, mayors, chambers of commerce, economic development professionals and other local leaders understand the freight rail story—railroads pay their own way, investing billions of dollars each year in the people, technology, equipment and infrastructure that powers the American economy and has given the United States the safest, most efficient and productive freight rail system in the world.

Read The Letter

A word from GoRail Board Chair Paul Bischler

V.P. Controller and Chief Sourcing Officer

BNSF Railway


Heading into its 15th year, GoRail continues to do an outstanding job 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.

Thanks to GoRail, hundreds of county commissioners, state legislators, mayors, chambers of commerce, economic development professionals and other local leaders understand the freight rail story—railroads pay their own way, investing billions of dollars each year in the people, technology, equipment and infrastructure that powers the American economy and has given the United States the safest, most efficient and productive freight rail system in the world.

Key decision makers in Congress take note when local leaders back home reinforce the importance of freight rail and that the freight rail industry is driving technological innovations that make the rail network ever safer and more efficient. They listen when their own constituents tell them how freight rail reliably connects their communities and local businesses to markets nationwide and around the world. And they pay attention when these individuals ask them to make sure that federal government policies continue to support freight rail innovation, spending, and investment.

This past year alone, GoRail met with more than 2,000 community leaders in hundreds of cities and towns all across America to tell the freight rail story. With major changes in the makeup of Congress and on key congressional committees, this kind of outreach is more important than ever heading into 2019.

I look forward to helping GoRail navigate the challenges ahead as 2019 Chairman of the Board, and I sincerely appreciate the support of the thousands of community and business leaders; local, county, and state officials; and rail suppliers and contractors who have made GoRail such an effective voice for our industry in Congress and in the communities we serve.

If you could use one word to describe your tenure at AAR, what would it be?

CHANGE. THE RAIL INDUSTRY OF TODAY IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM THE INDUSTRY OF TWO-PLUS DECADES AGO. OUR BUSINESS HAS CHANGED. OUR COUNTRY HAS CHANGED. AND OUR TECHNOLOGY IS CHANGING AT AN EVER-FASTER PACE.

Edward Hamberger Outgoing President and CEO / Association of American Railroads (AAR)
All Politics is Local
This is our guiding wisdom at GoRail

That's why we work so hard to connect with communities on a one-on-one basis, telling the freight rail story and building lasting relationships. To get this job done, our small staff conducts thousands of meetings each year with local leaders coast-to-coast. On top of all this individual outreach, we’re also proud to host events — tours of rail supplier facilities, rail forums and statehouse “rail days” — and support the publication of earned and social media from our network of rail advocates.

Here’s a way to visualize this work in action.

Click to explore where our team has been in 2018.
  • Events
  • Media
  • Site Visits

Click the map to enable zoom/pan options.
GoRail on the Go
A Day in the Life of a State Director

Sharing the freight rail story with communities across the country keeps GoRail’s state directors plenty busy. Each month, they visit at least one community within their territories on a one-week “site visit,” conducting at least 25 meetings with local leaders each trip. This travel is carefully planned to target the districts and states of members of Congress on key committees, for example the House Transportation and Infrastructure and Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committees. State Directors are educators, recruiters and relationship-builders. They use a coalition strategy of grassroots advocacy that makes GoRail’s model extremely effective.

Take a closer look at a “day in the life” for each of our state directors.

Michael Gaynor
Michael Gaynor
Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming

Site visit: Elkhart County, Indiana, and region (Senate Commerce member Sen. Todd Young)

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Michael Gaynor

Michael Gaynor

Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming

Site visit: Elkhart County, Indiana and region (Senate Commerce member Sen. Todd Young)


“My site visit to Northern Indiana – primarily Elkhart County – was designed to educate local stakeholders about the many public benefits of privately funded railroads, as well as the policy issues facing rail.

I began one of my days on the road by meeting with the mayor of Elkhart, during which we discussed pending re-regulation proposals at the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB). The mayor was supportive, sending a letter to his representative and two senators. Similarly, a productive meeting with the Economic Development Corporation of Elkhart County yielded a letter on STB, a commitment to review a pro-rail op-ed and an invitation for GoRail to present at a manufacturing conference in 2019.

Still in Elkhart County, I then met with two county commissioners. One of these commissioners agreed to author an op-ed on the importance of international trade and this piece was later published in the local Elkhart paper. Rounding out the day, I traveled to the City of Mishawaka to connect with the mayor, who agreed to review a pro-rail letter to his members of Congress.”

Nate Kaplan
Nate Kaplan
California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington

Site visit: Portland, Oregon, and region (House T&I Ranking Member Peter DeFazio, Senate Finance Ranking Member Ron Wyden)

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Nate Kaplan

Nate Kaplan

Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington

Site visit: Portland, Oregon and region (House T&I Ranking Member Peter DeFazio, Senate Finance Ranking Member Ron Wyden)


"I started the Tuesday of my Portland site visit by meeting over coffee with the Portland Alliance, the city's Chamber of Commerce. After discussing our position on forced access, the Alliance expressed its interest in sending a letter on the issue to all seven members of the Oregon delegation. This came with the assistance of Union Pacific, which is also a member of the Alliance — a great example of how GoRail collaborates with the railroads to achieve results.



Next, in an effort to increase outreach to academia, I met with a professor at Portland State University’s School of Business. It was a great opportunity to build inroads with a transportation expert and educate him more on topics from forced access to infrastructure investment. He agreed to review an op-ed on re-regulation proposals pending at the Surface Transportation Board.

I then met with the Multnomah County HazMat Department to share useful information about the AskRail app, which they hadn’t heard of and really appreciated.

Last but not least, I met with the mayor of Oregon City in the afternoon. During a casual and frank discussion in the mayor’s screen-printing shop, we touched on issues from the economic regulation of rail to technology and safety. The mayor sent letters opposing forced access to the state’s entire congressional delegation within two days of our meeting."

Christy Sammon
Christy Sammon
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee

Site visit: Tampa, Florida (Senate Commerce Ranking Member Bill Nelson)

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Christy Sammon

Christy Sammon

Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee

Site visit: Tampa, Florida (Senate Commerce Ranking Member Bill Nelson)


"The second day of my Tampa site visit started with the Chairwoman of the Hillsborough County Commission, discussing balanced rail regulation and the local transportation landscape. Rapid population growth has fueled interest in transportation issues, particularly roadway congestion, an area where city and county officials see rail as an effective way to get trucks off the road. The Chairwoman not only wrote letters to her congressional representatives but also submitted a letter to the Tampa Bay Times that was later published.

I then stopped by the office of a Tampa city councilwoman who is passionate about transportation and wants to improve the relationship between freight rail representatives and City officials on issues like blocked crossings. She agreed with our position on balanced regulation and sent letters to Senators Rubio and Nelson, as well as Congresswoman Kathy Castor.

Next up was a Hillsborough County commissioner who serves on the Metropolitan Planning Organization as well as the Tampa Regional Transportation Board. We had a lively discussion about GoRail and the policy issues facing freight rail. This was our first meeting, and I'll be following up in 2019.

Rounding out a productive day of meetings, I spoke with the vice president of government affairs at the Port of Tampa, who updated me on future projects at the port. The port later tweeted the Tampa Bay Times letter-to-the-editor mentioned previously. In addition, I was also able to meet with several Port Authority Board members, including the mayor of Tampa."

Emily Traiforos
Emily Traiforos
Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia

Site visit: Connecticut and New York (Senate Commerce member Sen. Richard Blumenthal, House T&I members Rep. John Faso and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney)

Read More

Emily Traiforos

Emily Traiforos

Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia

Site visit: Connecticut and New York (Senate Commerce member Sen. Richard Blumenthal, House T&I members Rep. John Faso and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney)


"This week was split between visits to New York and Connecticut. On Wednesday, I began the day by speaking with a New York Assemblyman, an advocate who I had met earlier in the year. We discussed the expected confirmations of STB members and how a fully staffed board could weigh in on several pending re-regulation proposals. He agreed to send letters to his members of Congress and was able to get them out within the week.

Later, in Connecticut, I met with the City Manager of Coventry, who’s also on the board for CT Conference of Municipalities and past President of the CT Council of Small Towns. He did not take action on the spot but expressed an interest in keeping in touch; I hope to develop this relationship over time.

On the way to my next meeting, I drove past the Windham Chamber of Commerce and stopped in to say “hi” to an advocate who had signed the STB group letter in 2017. This visit prompted her to take a fresh look at letters I had shared with her earlier in the year — and to send them to her representative and both senators.

I then met with a state senator who serves on the transportation committee and as First Selectman for the Town of Sprague. She was very supportive of rail, noting her advocacy for upgrades to the New England Central line and its connection with the Port of New London via a TIGER grant. She followed GoRail on Twitter during our meeting and subsequently sent letters in support of balanced regulation."

Larry Lloyd
Larry Lloyd
Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin

Site visit: Detroit, Michigan (Senate Commerce member Sen. Gary Peters, Rep. Tim Walberg, Rep. Haley Stevens)

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Larry Lloyd

Larry Lloyd

Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin

Site visit: Detroit, Michigan (Senate Commerce member Sen. Gary Peters, Rep. Tim Walberg, Rep. Haley Stevens)


"I started my Monday by meeting with the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC), during which they asked me to participate in a forum on export opportunities that Friday. The event – held for Michigan businesses, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and a few other Detroit-area economic development associations looking to export products – was a productive way to connect with new groups and highlight the relationship between rail and trade.

Later that day, I participated in a district meeting with Congressman Tim Walberg (MI-7) at the invitation of a Michigan manufacturer. We discussed several topics including rail intermodal and the importance of trade with Mexico. Rep. Walberg mentioned blocked crossings as his top rail concern and that he hopes to develop an intermodal facility in Monroe.

In the evening, I provided a transportation briefing to Haley Stevens, then a candidate for Congress in Michigan’s 11th district (she was elected in November). The briefing covered economic regulation, modal equity and NAFTA. Rep. Stevens is a major proponent of NAFTA and free trade, and she is very aware of freight rail’s importance to the automotive industry."

Weston McKee
Weston McKee
Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas

Site visit: Austin, Texas (Senate Commerce member Sen. Ted Cruz)

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Weston Mckee

Weston Mckee

Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas

Site visit: Austin, Texas (Senate Commerce member Sen. Ted Cruz)


"My first site visit as a GoRail state director was both edifying and productive. Day one, Monday, kicked off with a meeting with the Texas Railroad Association. We discussed coordination for Texas Railroad Day at the Capitol, highlighting rail technologies via a ‘tech showcase’ for Texas elected officials — a great way for me to work with Texas railroads and some of the suppliers developing and implementing cutting-edge technologies for the industry.

I finished the day meeting with the Austin City Chamber and Texas Economic Development Council. After learning about the freight rail policy landscape and getting a closer look at rail technology advances, both groups expressed a renewed commitment to echo our messaging in trade publications and letters to Congress."

Issues
GoRail covered a range of issues in 2018

Regulation

For over three decades, balanced economic regulation has allowed freight railroads to thrive and spend billions on infrastructure that benefits shippers and the public. This simple fact lies at the core of GoRail’s mission and forms the basis of every conversation we have with local leaders across the country. In 2018, in particular, GoRail worked to educate and mobilize our rail advocates around proposals like forced access pending before the U.S. Surface Transportation Board and other re-regulation efforts.
Read All


Featured blog
Rail Day on Capitol Hill Recap

Technology

Freight railroads have long been leaders on technology, from the time of the Iron Horse to today’s super-computer locomotives, smart sensors, use of big data and much more. Innovative tech not only bolsters safety but also drives efficiency gains that lift other industries. Bringing this high-tech message to the public was a core goal for GoRail in 2018 across hundreds of events, forums, and meetings.
Read All


Featured blog
Tech & Innovation on the Rails

Safety

Recent years have been the safest on record for freight railroads. GoRail routinely amplifies this message in the field and on social media, while also striving to connect with local first responders and law enforcement groups to promote tools like AskRail and safety training opportunities.
Read All


Featured blog
Freight rail app makes emergency response response safer and easier

Trade

America’s freight railroads are deeply tied to international trade, connecting the companies and communities they serve to the global marketplace. As trade uncertainty abounded in 2018 – from the renegotiation of NAFTA to tensions over tariffs – GoRail was vocal about the benefits of free trade to railroads and their suppliers, and the economy at large, including in over 15 earned media and association publications discussing the issue.
Read All


Featured blog
Harm from Chinese tariffs will spread beyond Ohio’s agricultural industry

Earned Media
Op-Eds, Articles, Letters to the Editor & Radio

GoRail’s earned media program reached thousands of readers and listeners across the country in 2018. By way of 89 op-eds, letters to the editor, articles and radio interviews, GoRail advocates and staff touched on topics ranging from economic regulation and rail’s user-pay approach to infrastructure, to NAFTA and the many ways technological innovation is making a safe rail network even safer.

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The best bet for a strong Texas economy? Preserving NAFTA

by Bob Mitchell, president of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership, published June 26 in the Houston Chronicle.

Read More
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Freight trains are infrastructure that works in Tampa Bay

by Sandra Murman, Hillsborough County Commissioner, published on June 12 in the Tampa Bay Times.

Read More
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Freight Rail in Michigan is Essential

Radio interview with Michigan State Rep. Triston Cole, published on March 21 by the Michigan Business Network.

Listen
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Rail is a Critical Partner to Ohio’s Soybean Farmers

by GoRail’s Michael Gaynor, published November 2018 in Ohio Soybean News.

Read More
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Railroads key to California’s economic, environmental future

by Gurbax Sahota, president and CEO of the California Association for Local Economic Development, published June 21 in Sacramento Business Journal.

Read More
By The Numbers
Freight Rail Education in Action

2,097
Educational
Meetings


720
Advocates
Recruited


89
Earned Media
Publications


70,000+
Social Media
Engagements


906
Total Number of
Advocate Actions


Stewardship


The bulk of contributions to GoRail are funneled directly to the people and tools necessary to effectively tell the freight rail story. Administrative and fundraising costs are minimized while the largest portion of our budget supports our dedicated team and the tools they use to educate, recruit and mobilize local leaders across the country on behalf of a healthy freight rail network.

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Thank you to all who helped make 2018
a successful year for GoRail.

Russ McGurk

The achievements and milestones documented in this report were made possible by thousands of people from hundreds of communities all across America. Many who helped advance our mission work directly for railroads, or rail suppliers or contractors – these are the men and women who build, maintain and operate the world’s finest freight rail system. Most GoRail advocates have no direct economic stake in the rail industry. They recognize, however, that a strong and thriving freight rail network is vital to their communities and to our national economy and quality of life. Special thanks to these individuals and to the companies listed below, which provided the resources that enabled us to do our work in 2018.

2018 GoRail Donors

Somerville Companies
ArcelorMittal Steelton
Railway Supply Institute
RJ Corman Railroad Group
IAT International, Inc.
Amerities Holdings LLC
TTX Company
Ferrovia Services, LLC
Cranemasters, Inc.
National Salvage and Service
REMSA
Hulcher Services Inc.
Parsec, Inc.
Anderzack-Pitzen Construction, Inc.
FreightCar America
Phoenix Sales and Services
ACS Solutions
MSI Lodging Systems
Optimization Associates Inc.
Sperry Rail
Automotive Resources International
Holland LP
The Timken Company
Vossloh North America
American Concrete Products Co.
The Okonite Company
Ames Construction
North American Tie & Timber
Arkansas Steel Associates
Alstom
Standard Steel, LLC
Western-Cullen-Hayes, Inc.
BSM Technologies
U.S. Intermodal Inc.
Special Fleet Service, Inc.
New York Air Brake
EVRAZ North America
GATX
Herzog Companies
SEMA Construction, Inc.
Polivka International
TrinityRail
MPL Innovations, Inc.
Hitachi Rail STS
Koppers Inc.
Loram Maintenance of Way, Inc.
Siemens Rail Automation Corporation
Omega Industries, Inc.
Progress Rail Services
Strato, Inc.
NRCMA
RailWorks Corporation
Amsted Rail
Steel Dynamics, Inc. Structural & Rail Division
Jay-Reese Contractors, Inc.
Wabtec Corporation
Stella-Jones Inc.
RCL Services Group
ITS ConGlobal
Greenbrier Companies
HDR
L.B. Foster Company