The 20th Annual
Southwestern Rail Conference

Register Now!

The 20th Annual Southwestern Rail Conference will be held April 15-16, 2024 at the Hurst Conference Center, Hurst, Texas in the heart of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

Hosted by Texas Rail Advocates
You should attend if you have any interest in:
Transportation planning, government affairs, rail coalitions, policy advisor, economic development, signaling and communications, passenger rail, transit, research and emerging technology, state affairs and funding, marketing, management and finance, freight logistics, infrastructure, intercity rail, management consulting, supply chain management, business services, railway supplier and manufacturer, management consulting, supply chain management, business services, railway supplier and manufacturer, energy and the environment.
FULL CONFERENCE
Monday & Tuesday
Early Bird $329
$429
MONDAY ONLY
Presentations & Dinner
Early Bird $149
$199
TUESDAY ONLY
Presentations & Luncheon
Early Bird $249
$299

Event Sponsors

These sponsors are making the 2024 Southwestern Rail Conference possible:

Your sponsorship helps to promote freight and passenger rail in Texas and the Southwest as we educate and inform our elected / appointed leaders and the public on the economic benefits of rail.

Texas Rail Advocates' outreach to the public and private sector helps to advance the development of rail service to its full potential as a carrier of freight and passengers. Sponsorship gives you coverage before, during and the full year following the conference.

Event Schedule

The Premier All-Rail Conference brings together the public and private sector to discuss important freight and passenger rail topics from experts in their field. We've expanded into two days of presentations and speakers to bring you more content from more rail industry leaders!

Monday, April 15

12:00PM - Registration Opens

2:00PM - Opening Remarks
Texas Rail Advocates - President Peter LeCody
Safety briefing, what's ahead in the conference and we'll remind you to enter our famous $100 bill drawing at the conclusion of Tuesday's presentations.

2:15PM - Moving People and Goods in a Fast-Growing Region
Victor Vandergriff - Executive Director, Tarrant Regional Transportation Coalition
As a former Texas Transportation Commissioner, he leads the TRTC, focused on opportunities for the public and private sector to work together creating innovative transportation solutions.

2:45PM - Passenger Rail NOW for the I-35 Travel Corridor
Travis County Judge Andy Brown
Judge Brown has formed a Travis County Passenger Rail Advisory Committee to help direct the county's strategy for bringing passenger rail to Central Texas. Brown has called passenger rail one of his two top priorities.

3:15PM - Refreshment Break

3:30PM - "Find That Railcar!" - The Latest Update on Freight Rail Technology
Kenneth Mannka - Executive Vice President at Nexxiot
Kenneth explains why critical real-time information for freight rail shippers and operators is needed.
Jim Pang - Vice President, New Services Development and Customer Solutions Innovation - Trinity Industries
Got a shopping cart? Jim Pang launched an industry-first freight railcar marketplace at Trinity, the largest railcar organization in North America.
Steve Ditmeyer - Senior Railway Technology Consultant at The World Bank and former FRA Director of Research and Development
Steve points out a crucial gap which is really hurting the industry.
Harris Ligon - Co-founder and CEO of Telegraph
Prior to launching Telegraph, he spent nearly 15 years in surface transportation at Uber Freight, Norfolk Southern, and BNSF Railway. During this time, he led teams in operations, strategy, business development, and product development.

4:30PM - Industry Spotlight
Interesting companies across the rail industry spectrum as we explore trends, gain valuable insight and connect with players that shape the railroad business landscape.

5:00PM - Networking Happy Hour
Sponsored by the Texas Short Line and Regional Railroad Association
A chance to mix and mingle with other like-minded professionals over snacks and beverages while you visit with sponsors of the rail conference.

7:00PM - Conference Dinner
Featured Speaker: Tony Hatch - Independent Transportation Analyst and Consultant
You don't have to go to the world famous RailTrends conference in New York when you can hear railroad analyst Tony Hatch speak at the Southwestern Rail Conference. Tony Hatch has 30 years of Wall Street savvy and was named Person of the Year by North American Rail Shippers Association. When he speaks, Class 1 CEO's pay attention.


Tuesday, April 16

7:00AM - Registration Opens

7:00am-8:30AM - Continental breakfast

8:30AM - Good Morning! Conference Reminders
Safety briefing, what's ahead in the conference and we'll remind you to enter our famous $100 bill drawing at the conclusion of today's conference.

8:35AM - The Green Scene: Hydrogen and Battery Propulsion
Ian Hodkinson - Technical Director, Business Development for Transit Systems at Alstom
What will these alternate power technologies mean for the rail industry? Ian Hodkinson will look at strengths and challenges as well as infrastructure requirements and case studies in light rail and intercity applications.

9:00AM - Reporters and Writers Roundtable
A lively discussion from the reporters and writers that cover transportation in general and rail in particular.
Dug Begley is the Transportation Writer for the Houston Chronicle
He reports on issues related to commuting and movement in one of the fastest-growing, diverse and complex infrastructure areas of the country.
David Peter Alan is a Contributing Editor for Railway Age
When not writing or traveling, he practices law in the fields of Intellectual Property.

Jim Blaze - You've seen his articles in Railway Age and Freight Waves
He is a railroad economist and engineer who won't mince words.

10:00AM - Refreshment Break

10:15AM - Making Rail Traffic Run in a Mega-Region
Dan Lamers - Senior Program Manager, North Central Texas Council of Governments
The North Central Texas Council of Governments is a national leader in developing and implementing air, road and rail transportation projects within its 16 county region. Senior Program Manager Dan Lamers takes us on a journey covering freight and passenger rail projects that benefit over 8 million residents.

10:45AM - The Washington Landscape on Rail
John Robert Smith - Chairman, Transportation For America
Former Chairman of the Amtrak Board of Directors, John Robert Smith is a recognized authority on public and private transportation & development funding. He guided the development and construction of the Southeast's first multi-modal transportation center, Meridian Union Station.

11:15AM - Keeping Up With the Demand for Rolling Stock
Steve Roescher - Director of Business Development at Siemens Mobility
The Siemens rolling stock portfolio covers light rail vehicles, locomotives and high-speed railcars and their Sacramento plant is busier than ever churning out passenger equipment. Roescher explains other digital services provided for railways around the world.

11:45AM - BREAK

12:00PM - South of the Border Lunch
Looking ahead to the 2025 Texas Legislative Session - A Texas Rail Advocates Austin Report
Lessons on rail funding in the '23 Austin legislative session and what we want to see when the '25 session convenes.
Rep. Troy Nehls, Chairman of House T&I Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials
Chairman Nels brings attendees up to date on issues that affect railroads.
Keynote Speaker: Amit Bose - Administrator, Federal Railroad Administration
It's a sea change at the FRA as the agency must decide what states and what projects are eligible for billions in federal grants for passenger and freight rail projects under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Administrator Bose outlines how the agency is reshaping the movement of people and goods by rail in the U.S.

1:30PM - Update on Passenger and Freight Rail Planning Across the Lone Star State
Jeff Davis - Rail Division Director, Texas Department of Transportation
TxDOT was recently awarded passenger rail corridor planning grants by the FRA and has freight rail projects in progress. Texas is joining the national stage in highlighting innovative funding priorities & showing others what can be accomplished in rail projects.

2:00PM - Connecting a Growing Region
Trey Walker - Vice President, Capital Design & Construction for Dallas Area Rapid Transit
Leading the team responsible for DART's Silver Line regional rail project, Trey Walker is responsible for civil design and construction on a variety of projects within the agency. The Silver Line cross-county line, now under construction, will link Plano in Collin County to DFW International Airport Terminal B.

2:30PM - Refreshment Break

2:45PM - He Wants to see High Speed Rail in Texas
Andy Byford - Amtrak's Senior Vice-President of High Speed Rail Development Programs
Rumors have been bubbling about a partnership between Amtrak and Texas Central on the long-delayed Dallas to Houston HSR project. Byford has the credentials to bring projects to completion. He did as Transport for London Commissioner with the recently completed London Elizabeth line and with New York City Transit. This should be very interesting.

3:15PM - Restoring and Expanding Rail Service Throughout the South (and into Texas)
Knox Ross - Chairman, Southern Rail Commission
This federally chartered Commission is bringing passenger rail to life along the Gulf Coast, the I-20 Corridor from Texas to the east coast and from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. Knox Ross describes the work the commission is accomplishing and what the future holds.

3:45PM - Dallas to Houston Rail Corridor - From the UT-Austin Students' Perspective
Meg Merritt is a transportation consultant and University of Texas Professor of practice. She is currently teaching a studio course on the Dallas to Houston Corridor at UT Austin's School of Architecture's Community and Regional Planning program.

4:20PM - Closing Remarks
Our Famous $100 Bill Drawing for 3 Lucky Attendees. Must be present to win!


Amit Bose - Administrator, Federal Railroad Administration

It's a sea change at the FRA as the agency must decide what states and what projects are eligible for billions in federal grants for passenger and freight rail projects under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Administrator Bose outlines how the agency is reshaping the movement of people and goods by rail in the U.S.

John Robert Smith - Chairman, Transportation For America

Former Chairman of the Amtrak Board of Directors, John Robert Smith is a recognized authority on public and private transportation & development funding. He guided the development and construction of the Southeast’s first multi-modal transportation center, Meridian Union Station.

Jeff Davis - Rail Division Director, Texas Department of Transportation

TxDOT was recently awarded passenger rail corridor planning grants by the FRA and has freight rail projects in progress. Texas is joining the national stage in highlighting innovative funding priorities & showing others what can be accomplished in rail projects.

Tony Hatch - Independent Transportation Analyst and Consultant

You don't have to go to the world famous RailTrends conference in New York when you can hear railroad analyst Tony Hatch speak at the Southwestern Rail Conference. Tony Hatch has 30 years of Wall Street savvy and was named Person of the Year by North American Rail Shippers Association. When he speaks, Class 1 CEO's pay attention.

Knox Ross - Chairman, Southern Rail Commission

This federally chartered Commission is bringing passenger rail to life along the Gulf Coast, the I-20 Corridor from Texas to the east coast and from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. Knox Ross describes the work the commission is accomplishing and what the future holds.

Kirk Watson - Mayor of Austin

Austin Mayor Kirk Watson, testifying before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials, said he is "eager to do anything I can to support intercity passenger rail in Texas." The former State Senator shares his views on why Texas needs a strong intercity passenger rail system.

Ian Hodkinson - Technical Director, Business Development for Transit Systems at Alstom

The Green Scene: Hydrogen and battery propulsion. What will these alternate power technologies mean for the rail industry? Ian Hodkinson will look at strengths and challenges as well as infrastructure requirements and case studies in light rail and intercity applications.

Dan Lamers - Senior Program Manager, North Central Texas Council of Governments

The North Central Texas Council of Governments is a national leader in developing and implementing air, road and rail transportation projects within its 16 county region. Senior Program Manager Dan Lamers takes us on a journey covering freight and passenger rail projects that benefit over 8 million residents.

Trey Walker - Vice President, Capital Design & Construction for Dallas Area Rapid Transit

Leading the team responsible for DART's Silver Line regional rail project, Trey Walker is responsible for civil design and construction on a variety of projects within the agency. The Silver Line cross-county line, now under construction, will link Plano in Collin County to DFW International Airport Terminal B.

Jim Pang - Vice President, New Services Development and Customer Solutions Innovation - Trinity Industries

Got a shopping cart? Jim Pang launched an industry-first freight railcar marketplace at Trinity, the largest railcar organization in North America. With next-gen technology, Trinity is transforming old school rail services into real-time intelligence.

Steve Roescher - Director of Business Development at Siemens Mobility

The Siemens rolling stock portfolio covers light rail vehicles, locomotives and high-speed railcars and their Sacramento plant is busier than ever churning out passenger equipment. Roescher explains other digital services provided for railways around the world.

Victor Vandergriff - Executive Director, Tarrant Regional Transportation Coalition

As a former Texas Transportation Commissioner, he leads the TRTC, focused on opportunties for the public and private sector to work together creating innovative transportation solutions.

Transportation Reporters Roundtable

A lively discussion from the reporters and writers that cover transportation in general and rail in particular.
  • Dug Begley is the Transportation Writer for the Houston Chronicle

    He reports on issues related to commuting and movement in one of the fastest-growing, diverse and complex infrastructure areas of the country
  • David Peter Alan is a Contributing Editor for Railway Age

    When not writing or traveling, he practices law in the fields of Intellectual Property
  • Jim Blaze - You've seen his articles in Railway Age and Freight Waves

    He is a railroad economist and engineer who won't mince words.

"Move That Railcar!" - Update on Rail Freight Technology

Info
  • Kenneth Mannka - Executive Vice President at Nexxiot

    Kenneth explains why critical real-time information for freight rail shippers and operators is needed.
  • Jim Pang - Vice President, New Services Development and Customer Solutions Innovation - Trinity Industries

    Got a shopping cart? Jim Pang launched an industry-first freight railcar marketplace at Trinity, the largest railcar organization in North America.
  • Steve Ditmeyer - Senior Railway Technology Consultant at The World Bank and former FRA Director of Research and Development

    Steve points out a crucial gap which is really hurting the industry.
The Texas Short Line and Regional Railroad Association annual meeting will be held Monday, April 15 in conjunction with the Southwestern Rail Conference at the Hurst Conference Center. Find details here: tslrra.org
Monday, April 15
12:00PM - Registration Opens

2:00PM - Opening Remarks
Texas Rail Advocates - President Peter LeCody
Safety briefing, what's ahead in the conference and we'll remind you to enter our famous $100 bill drawing at the conclusion of Tuesday's presentations.

2:15PM - Moving People and Goods in a Fast-Growing Region
Victor Vandergriff - Executive Director, Tarrant Regional Transportation Coalition
As a former Texas Transportation Commissioner, he leads the TRTC, focused on opportunities for the public and private sector to work together creating innovative transportation solutions.

2:45PM - Passenger Rail NOW for the I-35 Travel Corridor
Travis County Judge Andy Brown
Judge Brown has formed a Travis County Passenger Rail Advisory Committee to help direct the county's strategy for bringing passenger rail to Central Texas. Brown has called passenger rail one of his two top priorities.

3:15PM - Refreshment Break

3:30PM - "Find That Railcar!" - The Latest Update on Freight Rail Technology
Kenneth Mannka - Executive Vice President at Nexxiot
Kenneth explains why critical real-time information for freight rail shippers and operators is needed.
Jim Pang - Vice President, New Services Development and Customer Solutions Innovation - Trinity Industries
Got a shopping cart? Jim Pang launched an industry-first freight railcar marketplace at Trinity, the largest railcar organization in North America.
Steve Ditmeyer - Senior Railway Technology Consultant at The World Bank and former FRA Director of Research and Development
Steve points out a crucial gap which is really hurting the industry.
Harris Ligon - Co-founder and CEO of Telegraph
Prior to launching Telegraph, he spent nearly 15 years in surface transportation at Uber Freight, Norfolk Southern, and BNSF Railway. During this time, he led teams in operations, strategy, business development, and product development.

4:30PM - Industry Spotlight
Interesting companies across the rail industry spectrum as we explore trends, gain valuable insight and connect with players that shape the railroad business landscape.

5:00PM - Networking Happy Hour
Sponsored by the Texas Short Line and Regional Railroad Association
A chance to mix and mingle with other like-minded professionals over snacks and beverages while you visit with sponsors of the rail conference.

7:00PM - Conference Dinner
Featured Speaker: Tony Hatch - Independent Transportation Analyst and Consultant
You don't have to go to the world famous RailTrends conference in New York when you can hear railroad analyst Tony Hatch speak at the Southwestern Rail Conference. Tony Hatch has 30 years of Wall Street savvy and was named Person of the Year by North American Rail Shippers Association. When he speaks, Class 1 CEO's pay attention.

Tuesday, April 16
7:00AM - Registration Opens

7:00am-8:30AM - Continental breakfast

8:30AM - Good Morning! Conference Reminders
Safety briefing, what's ahead in the conference and we'll remind you to enter our famous $100 bill drawing at the conclusion of today's conference.

8:35AM - The Green Scene: Hydrogen and Battery Propulsion
Ian Hodkinson - Technical Director, Business Development for Transit Systems at Alstom
What will these alternate power technologies mean for the rail industry? Ian Hodkinson will look at strengths and challenges as well as infrastructure requirements and case studies in light rail and intercity applications.

9:00AM - Reporters and Writers Roundtable
A lively discussion from the reporters and writers that cover transportation in general and rail in particular.
Dug Begley is the Transportation Writer for the Houston Chronicle
He reports on issues related to commuting and movement in one of the fastest-growing, diverse and complex infrastructure areas of the country.
David Peter Alan is a Contributing Editor for Railway Age
When not writing or traveling, he practices law in the fields of Intellectual Property.

Jim Blaze - You've seen his articles in Railway Age and Freight Waves
He is a railroad economist and engineer who won't mince words.

10:00AM - Refreshment Break

10:15AM - Making Rail Traffic Run in a Mega-Region
Dan Lamers - Senior Program Manager, North Central Texas Council of Governments
The North Central Texas Council of Governments is a national leader in developing and implementing air, road and rail transportation projects within its 16 county region. Senior Program Manager Dan Lamers takes us on a journey covering freight and passenger rail projects that benefit over 8 million residents.

10:45AM - The Washington Landscape on Rail
John Robert Smith - Chairman, Transportation For America
Former Chairman of the Amtrak Board of Directors, John Robert Smith is a recognized authority on public and private transportation & development funding. He guided the development and construction of the Southeast's first multi-modal transportation center, Meridian Union Station.

11:15AM - Keeping Up With the Demand for Rolling Stock
Steve Roescher - Director of Business Development at Siemens Mobility
The Siemens rolling stock portfolio covers light rail vehicles, locomotives and high-speed railcars and their Sacramento plant is busier than ever churning out passenger equipment. Roescher explains other digital services provided for railways around the world.

11:45AM - BREAK

12:00PM - South of the Border Lunch
Looking ahead to the 2025 Texas Legislative Session - A Texas Rail Advocates Austin Report
Lessons on rail funding in the '23 Austin legislative session and what we want to see when the '25 session convenes.
Rep. Troy Nehls, Chairman of House T&I Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials
Chairman Nels brings attendees up to date on issues that affect railroads.
Keynote Speaker: Amit Bose - Administrator, Federal Railroad Administration
It's a sea change at the FRA as the agency must decide what states and what projects are eligible for billions in federal grants for passenger and freight rail projects under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Administrator Bose outlines how the agency is reshaping the movement of people and goods by rail in the U.S.

1:30PM - Update on Passenger and Freight Rail Planning Across the Lone Star State
Jeff Davis - Rail Division Director, Texas Department of Transportation
TxDOT was recently awarded passenger rail corridor planning grants by the FRA and has freight rail projects in progress. Texas is joining the national stage in highlighting innovative funding priorities & showing others what can be accomplished in rail projects.

2:00PM - Connecting a Growing Region
Trey Walker - Vice President, Capital Design & Construction for Dallas Area Rapid Transit
Leading the team responsible for DART's Silver Line regional rail project, Trey Walker is responsible for civil design and construction on a variety of projects within the agency. The Silver Line cross-county line, now under construction, will link Plano in Collin County to DFW International Airport Terminal B.

2:30PM - Refreshment Break

2:45PM - He Wants to see High Speed Rail in Texas
Andy Byford - Amtrak's Senior Vice-President of High Speed Rail Development Programs
Rumors have been bubbling about a partnership between Amtrak and Texas Central on the long-delayed Dallas to Houston HSR project. Byford has the credentials to bring projects to completion. He did as Transport for London Commissioner with the recently completed London Elizabeth line and with New York City Transit. This should be very interesting.

3:15PM - Restoring and Expanding Rail Service Throughout the South (and into Texas)
Knox Ross - Chairman, Southern Rail Commission
This federally chartered Commission is bringing passenger rail to life along the Gulf Coast, the I-20 Corridor from Texas to the east coast and from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. Knox Ross describes the work the commission is accomplishing and what the future holds.

3:45PM - Dallas to Houston Rail Corridor - From the UT-Austin Students' Perspective
Meg Merritt is a transportation consultant and University of Texas Professor of practice. She is currently teaching a studio course on the Dallas to Houston Corridor at UT Austin's School of Architecture's Community and Regional Planning program.

4:20PM - Closing Remarks
Our Famous $100 Bill Drawing for 3 Lucky Attendees. Must be present to win!

Please consider a small donation to offset the production costs of bringing you these important topics.

Venue & Hotel Information

The Hilton Garden Inn Dallas
1615 Campus Drive
Hurst, Texas 76054
817-281-2800

Our lead hotel is the Hilton Garden Inn, Hurst, Texas, which is directly attached to the Hurst Conference Center.

  • Sunday April 2
  • Monday April 3
  • Tuesday April 4

Located in the center of the DFW Metroplex, the City of Hurst offers first-class shopping, popular restaurants and new hotel accommodations just minutes from the Hurst Conference Center.

Nearby Hotels


The Hilton Garden Inn Dallas
(Connected directly to The Hurst Conference Center)
1615 Campus Drive
Hurst, Texas 76054
817-281-2800

The Hampton Inn & Suites
1600 Hurst Town Center Drive
Hurst. Texas 76054
817-503-7777

The Hyatt Place
1601 Hurst Town Center Drive
Hurst, Texas 76054
817-577-3003

The Holiday Inn Express & Suites
820 Thousand Oaks Drive
Hurst, Texas 76054
817-427-1818

Nearby Attractions


Restaurants
- Abuelo's Mexican Food Embassy
- BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse
- Bronco's Sports Bar & Grill
- Catfish & Co.
- Chili's
- Dairy Queen
- Del Taco
- Dunkin' Donuts
- Golden Chick
- In & Out Burger
- Italiannis Restaurant
- Carino's Italian
- Logan's Roadhouse
- McAlister's Deli
- McDonalds
- Olive Garden
- Outback Steak House
- Potbelley
- Pei Wei
- Pulido's Mexican Restaurant
- Quick Trip Store
- RaceTrac
- Red Hot & Blue
- Red Lobster
- Red Robin
- Slim Chickens
- Sonic
- Starbucks
- Subway
Airports
- DFW International Airport (10 mi)
- Dallas Love Field (22.5 mi)
Attractions
- Alley cats Entertainment (2 mi)
- Globe Life Park in Arlington (13 mi)
- AT&T Stadium (13 mi)
- Chisholm Park & Aquatics Center (3mi)
- Grapevine Mills Mall (12 mi
- Hurricane Harbor (16 mi)
- IFly Indoor Skydiving (2mi)
- Iron Horse Golf Course (5 mi)
- Mountasia (1.2 mi)
- North East Mall (.5 mi)
- NRH20 (1 mi
- Nytex Sport Center (1.5mi))
- Rave Cinemas at North East Mall (.5mi)
- Six Flags (15 mi)
- Texas Motor Speedway (18 mi)
- Texas Star Golf Course (5.7 mi)
- Downtown Fort Worth (12 mi)
- Fort Worth Stockyards (11 mi)
- Downtown Dallas (25 mi)