April 2023 NRC Bulletin

May 1, 2023

NRC Updates and Announcements

2023 NRC Auction Recap

On April 27, the NRC held its annual equipment auction in Rosenberg, TX at NRC Member Maintenance of Way Equipment Services’ facility and yard. The auction had 146 pieces on-site and 76 pieces that are currently online and scheduled to begin closing on Friday, May 5.

The NRC also hosted a happy hour on April 26 for auction participants which was well-attended. (Photo of the Happy Hour on the right). As note, the NRC received one donated piece of equipment to the auction from Omaha Track. Please note 100% of the proceeds from donated items go the NRC safety fund to fund our safety initiatives which includes the production of our annual safety video. 

A 10% buyer's premium is charged on all items. A percentage of the equipment consigned to sell helps fund the NRC Safety, Training, and Education programs, and the seller keeps the rest. For donated equipment, 100% of the proceeds go to the NRC Safety, Training, and Education programs which helps to fund NRC safety videos and training programs such as Part 243 Templates.

NRC PLC Committee Members Discuss Rail Issues on Capitol Hill

On April 18, members of the NRC's Policy & Legislative Committee (PLC) met with key Members of Congress to discuss safety and other pivotal issues impacting the rail industry. PLC committee members and NRC staff held discussions with Members of Congress and staff assigned to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials.

“Our objective was to establish and build relationships with Members of Congress so we can have ongoing dialogue about important rail-related issues, ”said Kevin Hicks, chairman of the PLC Committee and freight business leader with TranSystems. “The NRC members who participated provided first-hand perspectives that resonated with the Members of Congress. It was a successful experience for everyone involved.”

Matt Ginsberg, president of the NRC’s government affairs firm in Washington, TGA Association Management Solutions, said the timing was right for these meetings due to the large turnover in Congress and the need to generate greater awareness about the rail industry. “We’ve seen a significant turnover in key committee leadership and composition and almost 150 new Members of Congress. It was perfect timing to build relationships so Members of Congress and their staff better understand the rail industry and its impact on the U.S. economy and in their districts in particular.” For more information on the PLC Committee visit to DC, please click here.

U.S. Rep. Troy Nehls Tours Herzog Facility During Joint NRC-REMSA Grassroots Event

On April 7, NRC and REMSA member company Herzog Technologies, Inc. (HTI) hosted U.S. House of Representatives Member Troy Nehls (TX-22) for a tour of its Fort Worth, TX, facility. Rep. Nehls currently serves as the Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials. Rep. Nehls is also a member of the Committee’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.

Jim Hanlon, president of HTI, and Jim Hansen, chief commercial officer of Herzog Contracting Corp., and the current Past Chair of the NRC Board of Directors, led and participated in an employee meeting with Rep. Nehls and a tour through the facility. Photographed left is Jim Hansen during the tour, chatting with Rep. Nehls.

“It was terrific hosting Rep. Nehls at our facility today. Being able to share with the Congressman what HTI is all about and show him some of the safe and applicable technologies that HTI and the Herzog family works on for the betterment of the industry was a great experience,” said Hanlon. Rep. Nehls and those participating on the tour talked about the services HTI provides, touched on the economic benefit they provide the state of Texas and the nation, and the importance of safety culture to the entire Herzog team. To read more about the event, please click here.

Railway Age Announces 2023 Readers’ Influential Leaders, NRC Board of Director Erika Bruhnke among honorees

On April 19, Railway Age announced the 2023 Readers' Influential Leaders program honorees. This is the fourth annual installment of the program. Profiles of the honorees will appear in the May edition of Railway Age.

NRC Board of Directors member, Erika Bruhnke, Vice President of Training Services at RailPros, who was also named a Rising Star in 2021 by Progressive Railroading, rounds out a list full of individuals from the North American freight, switching/terminal and passenger railroad; rail transit; government agency; and supplier communities. Bruhnke also is the Chair of the NRC Safety Committee, and spearheaded the effort behind Safety Video #29, the first of the NRC Safety Videos that addresses mental health. To view the full list of honorees, please click here.

Progressive Railroading Announces 2023 Rising Stars, NRC's McGonagle among 'Rising Stars'

On May 1, Progressive Railroading announced the 25 people chosen for recognition this year as Rising Stars in the North American railroad industry. This is the 11th annual installment of the program. The magazine defines a Rising Star as someone under the age of 40 who has made, or is making, a positive impact on their company, organization, department or team, and is viewed by others as an up-and-coming leader in the rail industry.

NRC Vice President of Government Affairs & Operations Michael McGonagle was named to the list of honorees. McGonagle began his career in association management six years ago starting as an intern. Since joining NRC in 2018, he has gained progressively more responsibility while serving as director of operations, senior director of operations, and vice president of operations. In 2022, McGonagle assumed the additional responsibility for government affairs and advocacy activities for the NRC.

Progressive Railroading readers submitted nominations for over 130 individuals who work for Class Is, regionals, short lines, passenger railroads, transit agencies, government entities, associations, engineering firms, contractors or suppliers.  Rising Stars for 2023 will be honored during a virtual ceremony to be held July 26, and will be profiled this summer online and in the September Progressive Railroading magazine issue. For more information on the Rising Stars, please click here.

NRC Promotes Womach to Vice President of Finance

In April, the NRC announced that Nicole Womach has been promoted to Vice President of Finance. Womach joined the NRC in 2020 in the newly created position of Director of Finance. Over the past three years, she has been responsible for managing the association’s financial operations, including the annual budget, day-to-day management and forecasting, and information and asset management. She also serves as a valuable member resource as a liaison to the Finance committee and a support to committee chairs to help ensure the efficient operations of the association.

“Over the past three years, Nicole has advanced the NRC’s financial management practices toa higher level with expanded planning, accountability and control capabilities,” said NRC President Ashley Wieland. “Her contributions have been invaluable in guiding decision-making by our board of directors. Our members definitely benefit from her outstanding financial stewardship.” Prior to joining the NRC, Womach served as Director of Finance and Administration for the United Motorcoach Association (UMA), where she directed the financial operations and administrative functions for UMA, UMA Foundation and UMA-PAC(Political Action Committee). To read more on Womach's promotion, please click here.

NRC Members: NRC Membership Renewal Period Now Open!

It is time to renew your company's NRC 2023 membership! NRC staff emailed your organization's primary contact earlier in February with all corresponding information for your organization's renewal. If your organization was a member in 2022, and you would like to renew or have any questions about renewing or joining in please contact NRC staff at info@nrcma.org.

Not an NRC member and want to access to this and many other membership benefitsJoin as an NRC member today!. If you have any questions about joining the NRC, or your organization's current membership status, please simply reply to this email.

NRC Members: Feedback Requested to help NRC Veterans Committee, Education Committee

NRC Members, we would like your feedback to help assist two NRC Committees, the Veterans Committee and Education Committee. In an effort to streamline feedback, we have compiled the below survey:




All of the information gathered in this survey will not be shared widely or disseminated publicly. The survey information is intended only for feedback purposes and to make sure that NRC membership and NRC member benefits are as aligned as possible. 

NRC Members: Upcoming Awards and Application Deadlines Information Coming Soon!

NRC Members, please be on the lookout for upcoming award announcements and deadlines for NRC member awards. For example, the 2023 NRC Scholarship Application and the 2023 NRC Education Grant Application, two separate awards designed for undergraduate students and academic institutions respectively will be announced in the coming weeks. For more information on the 2023 NRC scholarship, please click here. Also, for more information on the 2023 Education Grant Application, please click here.

Additionally, the NRC also has many awards that will open this summer, with the winners and applicants of those awards being recognized at the 2024 NRC Conference from January 3-6, 2024 in Scottsdale, AZ. The award applications for the below list will be announced in the coming months. Each year, the NRC has the following awards:

  • The NRC’s annual Safety Awards recognize contractor member companies with exemplary safety performance during the year. Contractors who participate in the awards competition report it provides a means to evaluate and keep their safety programs up to date with industry best practices and also serves as a valuable business development and marketing tool.
  • The NRC Railroad Construction Project of the Year Awards recognize exemplary NRC member projects in two categories, the Large Project Category (projects with budgets over $10 million) and the Small Project Category (projects with budgets of $10 million or less). All types of rail construction projects are eligible for the awards and the purpose is to honor innovation, expertise, and quality project management
  • The NRC Field Employee of the Year Award recognizes a field employee employed by a contractor member companies who exhibits exemplary performance during the year. The purpose of this award is to recognize and honor the rail contracting employee who has demonstrated the most dedication and excellence in his/her field.
  • And last but not least, the second-annual Innovation in Technology Award will honor and recognize innovation and unique technologies, or technological services, created or implemented by an NRC member company. Eligible technologies or related services include grade crossings, RWP, contractor safety, freight rail, industrial track, rail transit, commuter rail, intercity passenger rail, rail on port facilities and rail on military facilities.

Please make sure to visit https://www.nrcma.org/nrc-awards for up-to-date information on the awards and deadlines. If you have any questions at all, please contact NRC staff at info@nrcma.org.

East Palestine, Ohio Derailment Update

On April 27, the FRA issued a non-binding safety advisory urging railroads to address safety concerns stemming from longer trains, noting that “the operation of longer trains presents different, more complex operational challenges, which can be exacerbated by the weight and makeup of the trains.” The safety advisory cites three episodes involving trains with more than 200 cars and provides eight recommendations, including to review engineer certification programs, prevent loss of communications between end-of-train devices, and address the impacts of long trains blocking crossings.

The 'Rail Safety Bill' proposed by Senators Brown and Vance of Ohio is expected to get a markup in the Senate next week by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. The companion bill, H.R. 1674 (118), has been introduced in the House and has not yet been scheduled for a markup. Additionally, Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), a lead sponsor of a different rail safety bill in the House, H.R. 1633 (118), has said he believes provisions in the Vance-Brown legislation wouldn’t make it through the House.

Key NOFO's and Deadlines now on USDOT Website

In January of 2023, the US Department of Transportation (USDOT), in order to provide stakeholders with more visibility into upcoming funding opportunities, published a list of anticipated dates for upcoming Notices of Funding Opportunity (NOFOs) for key programs within the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), as well as adjacent programs that support BIL and IRA objectives. This list is not comprehensive and will be updated periodically with additional programs and revised dates as appropriate. To view that list, please click here.

Industry News and Updates

Railroads, unions announce labor pacts

Several railroads and rail unions in recent days announced actions on labor agreements. Among them include: CN announced that Unifor membership ratified collective agreements that will cover 3,000 CN employees working in mechanical, intermodal, facility management and clerical positions in Canada. Metrolink's board unanimously approved a multiyear successor collective bargaining agreement with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1277. The agreement is the second between the agency and represented employees covering wages, benefits and working conditions for 47 ATU Metrolink employees. NS and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers–Transportation Division (SMART-TD) reached an agreement that features benefits and workplace enhancements designed to improve quality of life for conductors.

Metrolinx issues RFQ for tunneling; SEPTA awards ADA improvements contract

Metrolinx and the Ontario government have issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) for construction of the Yonge North subway extension tunnels. The work involves designing the tunnels, supplying the tunnel boring machines and building the launch and extraction shafts that will be used to lower the machines into the ground and return them to the surface. The work involves designing the tunnels, supplying the tunnel boring machines and building the launch and extraction shafts that will be used to lower the machines into the ground and return them to the surface, Metrolinx officials said. It also includes design and construction of the support walls for underground stations and emergency exit buildings, as well as relocation of the route's existing utilities. Additionally, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) has awarded a $6.5 million contract to NRC member Michael Baker International Inc. to provide architectural, design and construction-related services for a project to improve accessibility at three subway stations.

BNSF Receives Permits to Replace Bismarck-Mandan Rail Bridge

The North Dakota Department of Water Resources has issued two state permits to BNSF Railway, which are the final regulatory approvals required to replace the Bismarck-Mandan Rail Bridge over the Missouri River between the two cities. Water Resources has been debating for months whether to issue two sovereign lands permits; one for the construction of a new bridge and one for the removal of the old. North Dakota’s sovereign lands are defined as areas located within the ordinary high-water marks of navigable lakes and streams. BNSF maintains that the aging bridge must be replaced with a modern structure to maintain safety and efficiency. After nearly three years of environmental review of the BNSF plan, the U.S. Coast Guard concluded that the bridge is approaching the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced. BNSF has nearly all of the necessary permits. Which include permits from the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a water quality certification from the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality, and an agreement with the Bismarck City Commission granting the railroad access to certain city property and the right to extract soil from the land.

FRA Accepts WYDOT Grant Request to Replace I-80 Bridges

The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) has announced that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has accepted a multi-million dollar grant request to replace two bridges on Interstate 80 that cross over the Union Pacific Railroad. The crossing structures are located on the eastbound and westbound lanes approximately 11 miles west of Cheyenne. The Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement’s Special Transportation Circumstances Program will provide funding for the project. The program’s funds are directed to states that lack inner-city passenger rail service.  Through this grant, WYDOT will receive up to 80% of funds from the federal government and will match the remaining amount. The project’s total cost is estimated to be around $18 million.

The NRC is a trade association representing businesses from across the nation in the rail construction and maintenance field. NRC members range in size from small family businesses to the largest companies in the industry. NRC members perform work for transit, commuter, intercity passenger, industrial, and freight rail customers, with services including track construction and maintenance, grade crossings, signal and communications installation, bridge construction and repair, rail yard work, and many more. The NRC strives to put an emphasis on rail safety and quality while proudly serving the rail industry