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Rail Roundup: TTCI scope and rail-shipper council membership expand

News from TTCI, RSTAC and Mid Canada Transload Services

Tuesday's rail roundup. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Contract change allows TTCI to expand work to multiple sites

The management of the Transportation Technology Center Inc. (TTCI), a subsidiary of the Association of American Railroads (AAR) that develops and researches safety technology for the rail industry, is undergoing a change in September that could expand the group’s work to multiple sites.

The center’s management will transition from a single-source “care, custody and control contract” to a contract affiliated with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) that supports all modes of transportation. The DOT contract uses a vendor focused on facilities management, according to TTCI.

The change could enable the rail technology group, which is located in Pueblo, Colorado, to conduct testing and research on rail safety to multiple sites beyond Pueblo.

The change “is not expected to result in major modifications to TTCI’s services,” said the group. “TTCI will continue to perform research and engineering services in accordance with its mission to advance safety, reliability and efficiency in the rail industry and will determine any future usage of the TTC in alignment with the new DOT contractual condition and site availability.”

The group will also provide existing services related to testing, consulting, software and AAR technical services. 

TTCI described the change as such to FreightWaves: “The Transportation Technology Center (TTC) is owned by the Federal Railroad Administration and currently under the care, custody and control of the TTCI, the rail research and testing subsidiary of the Association of American Railroads. As of September 2022, TTCI will no longer oversee the day-to-day operations and maintenance of the TTC facility. TTCI will continue to provide essential, first-in-class services to the rail industry, and senior leadership is exploring operational options for the longer term.”

The group continued, “While there are many questions left to be answered, what does not change is that our team at TTCI remains the foremost experts in the world on rail innovation, and we will continue to provide our customers the exceptional service and analysis they have come to expect from us.”

Surface Transportation Board appoints new members to rail-shipper council

The Surface Transportation Board has added two members affiliated with short line railroads to the board’s Railroad-Shipper Transportation Advisory Council (RSTAC).

The members are Donald Itzkoff, chief policy officer of Patriot Rail, and Eric Jakubowski, chief commercial officer of Anacostia Rail Holdings.  

In addition to his tenure at Patriot Rail, Itzkoff has previously served as deputy administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration and as senior counsel for the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee’s Surface Transportation Subcommittee. His experience in public and private transportation policy spans 30 years. 

Jakubowski has 35 years of experience at small and large railroads, and he has a broad range of knowledge of the rail industry, from operations to government affairs and strategic planning, STB said.

“Both Eric and Donald have extensive experience in matters of concern to the board,” said Chairman Marty Oberman. “I appreciate Eric’s focus on advancing technology and improving business practices, as well as his operational experience. Donald is uniquely familiar with board policy, as someone who helped formulate and implement the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995. I welcome Eric and Donald to RSTAC and I’m sure that all RSTAC members look forward to working with them on ensuring effective and efficient interstate rail transportation.”

RSTAC’s purpose is to advise the board’s chairman, the secretary of transportation, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure with respect to rail transportation policy issues that RSTAC considers significant. 

The ICC Termination Act established the council in 1995.

“RSTAC focuses on issues of importance to small shippers and small railroads, including railcar supply, rates, competition and procedures for addressing claims. It is charged with developing private-sector mechanisms to identify, address and prevent obstacles to effective and efficient interstate transportation,” STB said.

Manitoba transload facility opens

Mid Canada Transload Services (MCTS) has opened a new transload facility near the U.S.-Canadian border, the company said Monday.

The terminal at Emerson, Manitoba, will specialize in the transloading of agricultural products, food grade products, organic products, industrial products and manufactured products. The 250-acre site has daily rail service with CN (NYSE: CNI) and BNSF (NYSE: BRK), and it is situated alongside Highway No. 75, which the company says is Manitoba’s main artery connection to the U.S. and serves as a key entry point for commercial traffic for Western Canada.

The terminal also has a 10,000-square-foot warehouse and office space, as well as a 10,000-square-foot heavy truck maintenance workshop with an indoor truck wash. The company is seeking additional customers and says its warehouse storage has cross-dock or rail-to-dock capacity.

MCTS says its target markets for rail are primarily the U.S. and Mexico but the location can also serve Canadian destinations.

Several months earlier, the company opened a new grain facility in the fall of 2020 that has two miles of track and grain storage capacity for 4,500 tons of grain. It is also building a third track at the site. 

“Our location provides a unique advantage for a trucking company to consolidate shipments to and from the United States as well as direct rail loading and unloading on two Class I railways,” MCTS President and CEO Real Tetrault said in a release. “As a private transload facility, our facility provides customers the benefit of loading rail or consolidating truck shipments without the high infrastructure costs.”

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Joanna Marsh

Joanna is a Washington, DC-based writer covering the freight railroad industry. She has worked for Argus Media as a contributing reporter for Argus Rail Business and as a market reporter for Argus Coal Daily.