The U.S. Senate, in a voice vote Tuesday night finally approved President Trump's nomination of Ronald Batory as the administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).
Batory's confirmation had been sidelined since last fall by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and three other New York-area Democrats. It was said they were frustrated with the Trump administration's lack of support for rebuilding the 100-plus year old Amtrak Hudson River tunnels that are in need of major repair.
"Ron Batory is supremely qualified to guide the FRA moving forward, equipped with years of real world experience that will surely assist him in his oversight duties," said Association of American Railroads President and Chief Executive Officer Edward Hamberger .
"Ron Batory is universally respected as a knowledgeable professional with great experience and understanding of the needs of all railroad stakeholders," said Rail Passengers Association President Jim Mathews. "He is well-versed in the railroad industry, with decades of experience working on passenger and freight rail issues, and eminently qualified for his role at FRA. We look forward to advancing the safety needs of passenger rail nationwide under his guidance at this vitally important agency."
"Ron Batory will bring a wealth of experience to the position and is well-qualified to guide the FRA through the critical work ahead of it including the oversight of positive train control (PTC) implementation. We look forward to collaborating with Administrator Batory on PTC and other safety initiatives.” That coming from American Short Line & Regional Railroad Association President Linda Bauer Darr.
American Public Transportation Association President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas issued the following statement:
"APTA and its more than 1,500 members congratulate Ronald Batory on his confirmation as Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). He brings to his new role more than 45 years of leadership experience in the railroad industry. We look forward to working with him on critical issues facing our nation's commuter rail systems, and wish him much success at FRA.
"Additionally, APTA congratulates Thelma Drake on being nominated to the position of Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). As the former director of Virginia's Department of Rail and Public Transportation and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 2005–2009 , Drake has hands-on experience with public transportation issues at the city, state and national levels. We hope for a swift confirmation of this critical position.
"Both FRA and FTA are vital partners to APTA and the public transportation industry. We are eager to work with the leaders of both agencies on priorities that include safety and security, funding for the FAST Act, and an infrastructure initiative that addresses the $90 billion backlog in state of good repair work and sustainable solvency for the Highway Trust Fund and Mass Transit Account."
Batory retired in March 2017 as President and COO of Conrail, following a 46-year career that included the presidency of the Belt Railway of Chicago and senior positions at Class I and regional railroads, including general manager in Chicago for Southern Pacific. His accomplishments at Conrail in large part led to the railroad's selection as Railway Age's 2017 Regional Railroad of the Year.