September 2020 NRC Bulletin
September 30, 2020
NRC Updates and Announcements
FRA Announces $320.6 million in CRISI Grants

On September 23, the Federal Railroad Administration announced the selection of 50 projects in 29 states to receive competitive grants funding under the Fiscal Year 2020 Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program. The projects selected included a wide variety of railroad investments that "improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of freight and intercity passenger service."

"This $320.6 million federal investment will upgrade U.S. rail infrastructure and enhance rail safety in communities across America," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. Nine of the projects were specifically selected to address safety at highway-rail grade crossings, and to deter illegal trespassing, which is the leading cause of rail-related deaths in America. Other projects expand, upgrade, or rehabilitate railroad track, switches, yard, and station facilities to increase performance and service delivery. A list of projects selected for FY 2020 CRISI funding can be viewed here.

"I am pleased that so many high-quality applications were submitted for worthwhile investments by the FRA," said FRA Administrator Ron Batory. Rural projects, which have a minimum 25 percent funding requirement under the CRISI Program, received over 60 percent of the funding. Out of the 50 projects awarded grants, 32 are located in "Opportunity Zones" which were created to revitalize distressed local economies.
BNSF Promotes Farmer to succeed Ice as president, CEO

On September 14, BNSF Railway Co. announced that Executive Vice President of Operations Kathryn "Katie" Farmer will succeed Carl Ice as President and CEO, effective January 1, 2021. Farmer will make history when she succeeds Ice, as the first woman to lead BNSF and a Class I railroad.

Farmer has been with BNSF for 28 years, most recently serving as EVP of operations since September 2018. In 1992, she joined Burlington Northern Railroad as a management trainee and has held leadership positions in every major function of the company including operations, marketing, and finance.

Chairman and CEO of BNSF parent Berkshire Hathaway Inc., Warren Buffett said "We look forward to Katie's leadership and more success. She possesses all of the qualities that make us excited about the future." Ice, who retires at the end of 2020 and will remain on BNSF's Board of Directors, was praised by Buffett, "Carl has been critical to BNSF's success for a very long time...I thank him for his leadership and accomplishments."
U.S. DOT Announces $1 billion in BUILD Grants

On September 16, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) announced $1 billion in awards through the "Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development" (BUILD) transportation discretionary grants program. To view the announcement, please click here.

Fiscal Year 2020 BUILD grants are for planning and capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure and are awarded on a competitive basis for projects that will have a significant local or regional impact. BUILD funding supports roads, bridges, transit, rail, ports or intermodal transportation. To view a full list of the awards, please click here.

For this, (the 12th round of BUILD Transportation grants), the maximum grant award was $25 million, while no more than $100 million was to be awarded to a single state. In order to better address the needs of rural America, which has been left behind at times with discretionary grant funding, the DOT is awarding 50% of eligible funding to projects located in rural areas that deliver benefits for those communities.
NRC Members: Receive your Hotel Engine Discount Today!

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All you have to do is click the following link: and you will be prompted to create an account. From there NRC member companies can enjoy all the benefits that Hotel Engine has to offer! 
NRC Scholarship Application Deadline Extended to Oct. 15

The NRC scholarship application which previously was September 15, has now been extended to COB Thursday, October 15. Please click here to view the 2020 NRC Scholarship Application.

Three total scholarships will be awarded as follows: the first place applicant will receive $12,000, the second place applicant will receive $6,000, and the third place applicant will receive $3,000.

In order to apply, an applicant must meet the following criteria:
  • be a daughter, son, granddaughter or grandson of a current employee of an NRC member company. Not a member? Click here to join today.
  • be enrolled at the time of application as a full-time college student at an accredited two-year college offering an Associate's degree or an accredited four-year college or university, or if the student is a recent high school graduate enrolling at one of the aforementioned institutions.

Please compile the completed application with all required materials and email to with "2020 NRC Scholarship Application" in the subject line. If you have any questions at this time, please reach out to NRC staff by email at or by phone at 202-975-0365.
UW-Madison Engineering Professional Development - Railroad Online Course Upcoming

This fall the University of Wisconsin's College of Engineering is offering their Introduction to Railroad Engineering and Operation course, live and online. The course runs from October 20-29. If you would like to learn more, please click here.

The course is intended to help railroad personnel increase their skills and competencies while also expanding knowledge of railroad engineering, operations, and management. The course will cover several topics, including railroad operating fundamentals and management, railroad track structures, railroad engineering and aligning, and special trackwork.

The course is intended for railroad employees, contractors, state/federal officials, engineers, and technicians. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Eric Hanson by email at
NRC Members: Update your company's directory listing and help show industry footprint and impact to Congress

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused numerous issues and business disruptions across the globe. Corporate offices have shifted to satellite or remote offices, and company employees are no longer located in one area. To make sure we are doing our part, we request that NRC members to update their company's directory listings by clicking here. In doing so, you can help NRC staff have a better understanding of the footprint that our members have across the globe.

When advocating for industry issues to Members of Congress, being able to provide tangible statistics of where our members operate truly shows the value this industry provides. Additionally, if your company is interested in a virtual grassroots event with a member of Congress to show off your facility or project site, please contact NRC staff at
Be aware of unsolicited phishing attacks from third party vendors

You may have received unsolicited emails from companies claiming to sell attendee lists to the NRC Conference, along with many other trade shows and events in the industry. The NRC does NOT sell or share its members' or conference attendees' contact information and wants to reiterate that groups selling these lists are NOT affiliated with the NRC.

Please make sure to be vigilant of scams including any solicitations via email that could be phishing attacks. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this contact NRC staff at
Industry News and Updates
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has released the final Rule of Particular Applicability (RPA) and Record of Decision (ROD) for Texas Central Railroad LLC, bringing the private company's proposal of building a Dallas-to-Houston high-speed rail line closer to construction. Texas Central has proposed building a rail system that replicates the Japanese Tokaido Shinkansen system as operated by the Central Japan Railway Co. Officials from Texas Central have said they chose this system because of its reputation as being one of the safest and most punctual train systems in the world. It has transported more than 10 billion passengers in its' 55 year history, with no operational passenger fatalities and no accidents since it was deployed.

Several capital projects are being moved forward this month by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (L.A. Metro) Board of Directors. The projects include the Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project, the Crenshaw Northern Extension and other projects aimed at transforming mobility options in L.A. County. In addition to the aforementioned projects, a Purple Line Extension Project, I-5 North HOV and Truck Lane Enhancement Project, and a High Desert Intercity Rail Corridor are all being moved forward.

Kansas City Southern has promoted Rodrigo Flores from vice president of automotive to VP of automotive and intermodal sales, effective Sept. 1. Flores will oversee KCS' automotive and intermodal business units in the United States and Mexico. Flores, who has more than 20 years of transportation experience, served as a senior auditor with Price Waterhouse in Mexico City prior to joining KCSM.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a final rule allowing railroads to use ultrasonic inspection technology, augmented with GPS technology, to conduct rail testing. The regulations are expected to improve safety by making it easier for railroads to test rail more frequently and to help identify issues before they degrade. The new "modernized standards will allow railroads to implement innovative inspection methods without the burden of applying for individual waivers with well-established safety records," said FRA Administrator Ronald Batory.

Sign the Staggers Act 40th Anniversary Letter today!
2020 marks the 40th anniversary of the Staggers Rail Act, which de-regulated the railroad industry. This historic Act led to the creation of short line railroads and allowed freight railroads to earn enough revenue to make necessary massive investments into the rail network, which continue to be the life blood of rail contractors and suppliers. GoRail, NRC, and other industry trade associations support, and encourage, the signing of this letter to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) advocating for smart and balanced rail regulation. The letter is only collecting signatures for the next few months, so make sure to sign-on today.
The NRC is a trade association representing businesses from across the nation in the rail construction and maintenance field. The NRC’s member companies 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.
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