While the Cat’s Away…

Right now the political focus in this country is every place except Washington D.C., due to the hotly contested race for President. It’s kind of interesting spending time in a Super Tuesday state now, because I am seeing political ads on TV where having spent most of my time in New Jersey and having one of the last primaries, we would rarely see an ad on TV. Just because the focus is elsewhere, doesn’t mean that what is going on in Washington is any less important. In fact, there are two meetings coming up soon in the capital of our country that are the most important for our industry.The first is Railroad Day on Capitol Hill. For eight years now I have been telling you how important it is to be in Washington to lobby Congress, and this year is no different. First of all, this is the least expensive meeting you will ever have to pay for: registration is free, and your only costs are your travel expenses and your time. The benefits far outweigh the costs, and while it is a very long and tiring day, you come away from it with a sense of satisfaction that you have been able to get your two bits in, and you really get a better understanding as to what it takes to run our government, and how you can influence it. Railroad Day is March 3, and registration is open on the ASLRRA web site, www.aslrra.org.The second is another ASLRRA event, and that is the 2016 ASLRRA Connections convention. This is without a doubt the premier railroad event this year and another one that should not be missed. This year the convention is at the Gaylord National Resort in National Harbor, Maryland, and it runs from April 3 through April 6. The superlatives associated with the convention are not exaggerations: the exhibition is the largest and most comprehensive group of suppliers to the short line industry, the educational sessions (over 40 of them) provide insight into the latest goings on in the industry, and educational opportunities that don’t exist any other time of the year, and you are not going to get a better chance to interact with as many of your peers in one place at any other time. Registration is also on the ASLRRA web site, www.aslrra.org, and you can see all of the opportunities available at the meeting.Both meetings are unique in what they cover, and the opportunities they present. They have been a long time fixture on my calendar, and should be on yours. Besides, chances are you won’t run into a political bigwig while you are there, because they are all out and about trying to get elected to the big house.---By Steve Friedland
steven-fb.jpgSteve Friedland is a well-known leader in the short line industry who has devoted more than two decades to railroading. At the Morristown & Erie Railway, a 42-mile New Jersey short line, he worked in all areas of the railroad, including track, mechanical, signals, and operations. In 1999, he founded Short Line Data Systems, a provider of railroad EDI and dispatching software, AEI hardware, and management consulting to the short line industry. He currently serves as the ASLRRA representative to the AAR's Wireless Communications Committee and is chairman of the joint AAR-ASLRRA Short Line Information Improvement Committee. He also is a member of the ASLRRA's board of directors.