The 12th Annual
Southwestern Rail Conference

The 12th Annual Southwestern Rail Conference was held January 21, 2016.

The Premiere Freight & Passenger Rail Conference in Texas

Thanks for attending the 12th Annual Southwestern Rail Conference at the Magnolia Hotel, Dallas. Please scroll down for video presentations and slide decks from selected speakers and panels.

Presentations on the 12th Annual Southwestern Rail Conference may be viewed for personal use only. Any other use of the presentations require pre-approval from Texas Rail Advocates and must be identified as 17th Annual Southwestern Rail Conference hosted by Texas Rail Advocates. Email for authorization.

Texas Department of Transportation Rail Division Director Erik Steavens

Erik Steavens

Steavens is a twenty-year transportation professional with a diverse background in multimodal transportation. For the past two years, he has managed his own firm, TIP Consultants, to assist public and private sector clients in navigating through the complex transportation funding and implementation environment. Previoussteavensly, Steavens was the division director of intermodal programs for the Georgia Department of Transportation, where he managed the state’s rail, transit, aviation and port interests.

Steavens’ career spans all levels of government and the private sector, where he established himself as a recognized leader in transit and rail-related projects. He began his career at the Planning Commission in Albany, Georgia and was responsible for multimodal planning of the road, bridge, bicycle, pedestrian, aviation and transit systems in Dougherty and Lee Counties. He worked for the Federal Highway Administration for eight years and developed several non-traditional projects, including transit service at Yosemite National Park, financing plans for the Alameda rail project, and the Miami Intermodal Center. Steavens followed up this federal service with work on the past transportation authorization bill, SAFETEA-LU. In this capacity, he advised senior leadership of the United States House and Senate on policy and financial provisions that were ultimately adopted in the bill.

The Important Role That Short Lines Play

Paul Treangen

Paul TreaPaul Treangen - 3x3ngen is responsible for TNW Corporation’s strategic direction; overall operations; development of the corporate culture; and fiscal performance to key metrics. He also serves as a member of the firm’s Board of Directors.

Paul has more than 25 years of experience in railroads; mergers and acquisition ventures; and senior executive leadership. Prior to joining TNW, he was the Chief Executive Officer of Colo Railroad Builders. Previous positions included President of Alliant Energy Transportation, (a holding company whose portfolio includes Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railway (CRANDIC), IEI Barge, Williams Bulk Transfer, Transfer Services, and IES Railcar), and Director of Electric and Gas Services/Power Plants and Generation for Alliant Energy Corporation. He joined TNW in 2014.

The Newly Created Brazoria-Fort Bend Rail District – New Gulf Coast Link

Dr. Alexander Metcalf

A presentation moderated by Dennis Kearns (Transportation Attorney) with presentation by Craig Ebersold (Archer Western Herzog), Nick Manley (Knorr Brake Company), and Wiggie Shell (Georgetown Rail Equipment Company). Our thanks to OneRail Coalition for their assistance.

Dennis Kearns is an attorney and advocate for transportation issues before the Texas Legislature and Executive agencies. Dennis retired from BNSF Railway in 2013 after a successful 37-year career as an attorney in the railroad industry. He currently serves as a government affairs consultant for BNSF and Texas Short Line and Regional Kearns,DennisRailroad Association, is Chairman of Transportation Advocates of Texas and serves on the board of the Austin Steam Train Association. He is native of Chicago IL, is a 28 year resident of Austin TX and holds dual USA and Irish passports. He holds a Juris Doctor degree from Loyola University of Chicago (1976) and an undergraduate Arts Bachelor degree from Saint Louis University (1970). He was admitted to the practice of law in Illinois and Texas and is a current member in good standing of the State Bar of Texas.

Panel – Rail As An Economic Driver

Dennis Kearns

A presentation moderated by Dennis Kearns (Transportation Attorney) with presentation by Craig Ebersold (Archer Western Herzog), Nick Manley (Knorr Brake Company), and Wiggie Shell (Georgetown Rail Equipment Company). Our thanks to OneRail Coalition for their assistance.

Can An Independent Passenger Rail Operator Survive And Prosper?

Ed Ellis

Railroader, Ed Ellistraveler and writer Ed Ellis was born and raised in Paducah, Kentucky. He worked his way through college as a brakeman and switchman on the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad, and graduated from the University of Tennessee with a Transportation degree in 1976. He joined the management team of Chicago and North Western at a time when CNW was fighting for its survival in competition with the Rock Island and Milwaukee Road, against a backdrop of deregulation brought on by the 4R and Stagger Acts. As Assistant to the Senior VP Traffic, Mr. Ellis participated in formulating CNW’s strategy on deregulation, particularly with respect to development of confidential contract rates, where CNW was the industry leader. As Manager of Equipment Planning, he oversaw a dramatic increase

In 1983 Mr. Ellis led the formation of a shortline group called Chicago West Pullman and was a key part of the company’s growth to eight properties in eight years, during which time he was also involved in direct management of the largest railroad in the group. In 1992 he joined RailTex, the largest feeder railroad company. In 1993 he won the Distinguished Marketing Achievement award from Railway Age magazine for developing and implementing a rail-based small shipment program. In September 1996, Mr. Ellis joined Amtrak and became Vice President, Mail and Express where it was his responsibility to grow Amtrak’s mail and express traffic. During his five years at Amtrak, revenue grew from $44 million to over $120 million.

How Union Pacific Railroad Uses Social Media To Get The Word Out on Safety

Jeff DeGraff

Transportation Vision For Texas

Don Huffines, Victor Vandergriff

As a first-term State Senator in the 84th Texas Legislature, Don served on the Administration Committee, the Business & Commerce Committee, the Education Committee, and as Vice-Chairman of the Transportation Committee. He fought for legislation to get more funding for roads without higher taxes, fees, or tolls; to empower parents and students with school choice; to phase-out the costly and complicated margins tax; and to advance economic freedom. Don continues to work for more and better roads with fewer tolls, for school choice, and for the job growth and economic prosperity that will result from phasing-out the margins tax.

Victor T. Vandergriff is a member of the Texas Transportation Commission, which oversees statewide activities of the Texas Department of Transportation. He was appointed commissioner by Gov. Rick Perry on March 26, 2013, and took his seat on the commission on April 30, 2013. Vandergriff is an attorney and private businessman specializing in business development and legislative issues.

Dallas to Houston High Speed Rail

Tim Keith

Tim B. Keith serves as chief executive officer of Texas Central Partners (TCP), a private, Texas-based company that is developing a high-speed passenger railway that will connect Dallas and Houston.

As a seasoned executive and investor with nearly 25 years of financial and operational experience in large real estate and infrastructure projects, Mr. Keith has developed key relationships and perspectives critical to TCP’s success.

Mr. Keith previously co-founded and served as chief investment officer of HKS Capital Advisors, a boutique investment advisory firm founded in 2011. HKS Capital Advisors provides investment advisory services and fund management expertise to high net worth investors with a focus on private enterprise transactions.

How High Speed Rail Works

Steve Clark

Mr. Clark develops, looks after, serves on, and delivers transportation projects in the Americas Region, to include North and South America. His focus is on the Texas region, and Brazil.

He was Principal Investigator at the Transportation Technology Center Inc. from 1995 to 2006. Previously was Manager of Engineering, Public Service of Colorado 1983-1995. Mr.Clark holds an MBA in Economics and Management from Colorado State University and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of New Mexico.

How The FAST Act Will Benefit Rail

Jim Mathews

Jim Mathews brings 30 years of publishing and executive leadership experience in the transportation sector to his position as President and CEO of NARP. Before joining NARP, Mathews was Executive Editor of the Aviation Week Intelligence Network. During his 26-year tenure at Aviation Week, he cultivated the company’s digital strategy and led teams that twice won national awards for best news website.

Mathews served on the Amtrak Customer Advisory Committee for six years, including two years leading the ACAC as chairman. He is a lifelong train traveler with a deep-rooted vision for a robust national passenger train network within the U.S. Mathews believes rail can be an economic engine in the communities it serves, a potentially transformative mode in an ever-changing transportation landscape and the most environmentally responsible way to meet the transportation challenges of the 21st century.

Panel – Texas A&M Transportation Institute - Trains 101

Steven Polunsky, Yolanda Prozzi, Curtis Morgan, Allan Rutter

A panel of experts on freight and passenger rail transportation projects from the researchers at TTI

Steven Polunsky is a research scientist with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s Policy Research Center. He previously directed legislative committees overseeing transportation, homeland security, and regulaPolunsky,Steven-1079tory policy where he managed professional and administrative staff; directed and evaluated legislation and policy; conducted policy studies, produced reports, and performed oversight of state and local agencies. He led an award-winning technology initiative that saved thousands of taxpayer dollars, debuted the use of live spatial data in a legislative hearing, and produced the first mobile app of any state legislative committee in the country.

Ms. Jolanda Prozzi holds a Master of Science in Transportation Technology and Policy from the University of California (Davis) and a Master of Commercial Sciences from the University of Stellenbosch (South Africa), with specialization in transportation economics. Ms. Prozzi has more than 20 years of professional and research experience in transportation planning, transportation economics, freight planning, and freight policy analysis. Since coming to Texas in 2001, Ms. Prozzi has been collaborating on and managing almost 50 Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) research projects and studies. A recent example of a freight study that she supervised is the Freight 2055 TxDOT funded research study. This study documented the major trends (i.e., global trade, sociodemographic, environmental, and technology trends) that could impact the future business models of Texas’s companies; identified and discussed factors that influence companies’ site selection decisions and explored how Texas ranks compared to other states; discussed changing business models and the associated impacts on and expectations for a future freight transportation system, and provided insight into the foreseen role for TxDOT in planning for an efficient, reliable, and safe freight transportation system in 2055 that supports the growth of industry and ultimately the Texas economy.

Mr. Morgan is the Program Manager of the Multimodal Freight Transportation Programs at the Texas A&M TransCurtis Morgan TTI Photo 2010portation Institute (TTI). His work encompasses research, analysis, and evaluation of freight movement by truck, rail, and waterway in Texas and throughout the United States. He also leads TTI’s efforts to study both conventional and high-speed intercity passenger rail. Prior to joining TTI, Mr. Morgan was a rail/multimodal planner in the Transportation Planning and Programming Division of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) where he coordinated TxDOT’s rail planning activities with private railroad companies, metropolitan planning organizations, and local government representatives.

Mr. Rutter has an extensive history working with and for the public sector in transportation in multiple modes and governmental levels. He is Freight Practice Leader for the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, leveraging Allan Ruttermultimodal expertise of dozens of researchers working for federal, state, regional and private sector sponsors. He has led projects to develop a Model Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Action Plan for the FHWA, updated commuter rail benefit projections for the Gulf Coast Rail District, and prepared a policy paper on public freight rail projects for TTI’s Policy Research Center. He is also contributing to a TxDOT research project on Innovative and Automated Freight Systems and to a Cooperative Transit Research Project on Commuter Rail Contracting Methods. Mr. Rutter served as Federal Railroad Administrator for President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2004, a Senate confirmed position. He was chief executive of the 800 employees of the FRA, responsible for rail safety enforcement and passenger rail funding and policy.

Blending a Rail System – Can Passenger Rail Run Hot and Warm?

Rick Harnish

Richard Harnish is the Executive Director of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association (MHSRA), a member-supported non-profit organization advocating for fast, frequent and dependable trains linking the entire Midwest.

Harnish is a leading creative force in the transportation policy reform movement, and his ideas are revolutionizing rail and transit advocacy. Through the MHSRA he has mobilized nearly 40,000 advocates, educated thousands of government and business leaders, and helped elevate high-speed rail and intercity passenger rail on the national stage.

TRA is a 501(c)3 not for profit. Our continuing work of educating and informing the pubic and private sector on the benefits of freight and passenger rail come from conference registrations, sponsorships and financial contributions from private citizens and the business community.