Rail Resources

We created this resources page to help familiarize you with the rail industry’s agencies, organizations and terminology.

Associations & Agencies

Association of American Railroads (AAR)

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) is the world’s leading railroad policy, research and technology organization focusing on the safety and productivity of rail carriers. AAR members include the major freight railroads of the U.S., Canada and Mexico, as well as Amtrak.

Association of Air Brakes (ABA)

The Air Brake Association (ABA), established in 1893, helps guide the industry on items relating to air brakes on freight cars, passenger cars and locomotives.

American Railway Car Institute Committee (ARCI)

The American Railway Car Institute (ARCI) has represented the North American freight railcar building industry for over 75 years. Membership comprises the major North American freight railcar manufacturers. The role of the ARCI is to work in coordination with the Association of American Railroads on freight railcar design standards, to tabulate and report North American freight railcar information, and to represent the specific interests of railcar builders in federal legislative and regulatory matters.

American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA)

The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) is a non-profit trade association that represents the interests of its 450 short line and regional railroad members in legislative and regulatory matters. Short line and regional railroads are an important and growing component of the railroad industry. Today, they operate and maintain 30 percent of the American railroad industry’s route mileage, and account for 9 percent of the rail industry’s freight revenue and 12 percent of railroad employment.

Canadian Association of Railway Suppliers (CARS)

Canadian Association of Railway Suppliers (CARS) is the only national trade and advocacy association representing rail suppliers for rail freight and transit solely focused on the Canadian market. CARS represents over 400 companies who are important to the operations of the railways and transit authorities.

Federal Railroad Association (FRA)

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) was created by the Department of Transportation Act of 1966. It is one of ten agencies within the U.S. Department of Transportation concerned with intermodal transportation. FRA’s mission is to enable the safe, reliable, and efficient movement of people and goods for a strong America, now and in the future. FRA’s Office of Railroad Safety promotes and regulates safety throughout the Nation’s railroad industry. The office executes its regulatory and inspection responsibilities through a diverse staff of railroad safety experts.


GoRail unites rail stakeholders with community leaders and the public in support of rail solutions to tomorrow’s transportation challenges. GoRail believes that every additional ton of freight moving by rail instead of over our congested highways means more jobs and a stronger economy, less pollution and cleaner skies, and greater fuel efficiency and clearer roads ahead. GoRail was founded on the principle that “all politics is local” and that direct input from constituents is the best way to communicate with Members of Congress.

Railcar Technical Services Association

The Railcar Technical Services Association (previously MARTS, and until 1999 was known as the Car Department Officers Association), brings together individuals interested in freight car matters for the advancement of knowledge relating to the safe and economical operation of the cars, to exchange of ideas, discuss problems, promote uniformity, to effect economics in car construction, maintenance, and operation, and to make constructive recommendations to the Association of American Railroads.

North American Rail Shippers Association (NARS)

The North American Rail Shippers Association is the umbrella organization that links five regional associations of rail owners, vendors and users in Canada, Mexico and the United States. Its membership consists of the officers of each regional association, plus six elected officers and a board of directors. The regional associations comprise individuals whose companies own and use rail service. Matters affecting reliable rail service are of vital interest to all and these individuals find it beneficial to attend meetings featuring speakers on regional and national rail issues in a relaxed collaborative manner. Regional meetings are generally held twice a year. Individuals may belong to more than one regional group if they wish and attend any regional meeting.

North American Freight Car Association (NAFCA)

The North American Freight Car Association’s mission is to promote the safe, efficient and economical use of private railcars. Also NAFCA investigates and educates regarding operational, regulatory, economic and legal matters that affect private cars. The group also will secure the establishment and maintenance of reasonable, equitable and lawful practices and rules affecting the use of, repair of, and principles of compensation for, all private cars.

Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is a United States Department of Transportation agency created in 2004, responsible for developing and enforcing regulations for the safe, reliable, and environmentally sound operation of the U.S.’ 2.6 million mile pipeline transportation. The administration is also responsible for the nearly 1 million daily shipments of hazardous materials by land, sea, and air. The agency also oversees the nation’s pipeline infrastructure which accounts for 64 percent of the energy commodities consumed in the United States. Made up of the Office of Pipeline Safety and the Office of Hazardous Materials Safety, PHMSA’s main mission is to protect the people and the environment from the inherent risks associations with the transportation of hazardous materials, whether it be by pipeline or other modes of transport.

Railway Supply Institute (RSI)

The Railway Supply Institute (RSI) connects members to their customers and represents the railroad supply industry in Washington, D.C. RSI is the only trade association representing the entire rail supply industry—manufacturers, distributors and service providers to the freight car, locomotive, maintenance-of-way, communications, signaling, leasing and passenger rail industries.


Railinc Corporation provides rail data and information technology services to the North American freight railway industry. Railinc was established as an information technology department within the Association of American Railroads AAR, and later spun off as a wholly owned, for-profit subsidiary of the AAR in 1998.

Surface Transportation Board (STB)

The STB was created in the ICC Termination Act of 1995 and is the successor agency to the Interstate Commerce Commission. The STB is an economic regulatory agency that Congress charged with resolving railroad rate and service disputes and reviewing proposed railroad mergers. The STB is decisionally independent, although it is administratively affiliated with the Department of Transportation. The STB serves as both an adjudicatory and regulatory body. The agency has jurisdiction over railroad rate and services issues, approves all operating authority for new railroads and rail restructuring transactions (mergers, line sales, line construction and line abandonments).

Traffic Club of Chicago

The Traffic Club of Chicago share common interests and promote the industry. This organization is dedicated to maintaining the highest standards of the transportation, distribution and logistics profession.

Western Railway Club

The Western Railway Club is one of the premier associations still very active in the railroad industry and railway supply industry. The organization was established in the late 1880s, and has been very much involved in the promotion of dialogue and the exchange of information within the railroad industry for well over 120 years.


Arbitration Rules and Billing Committee (ARB)

The AAR Arbitration and Rules Working Committee is charged with and has the authority to resolve disputes involving the AAR Mechanical Interchange Rules.

Association of American Railroads Tank Car Committee (AARTCC)

In 1903, the Master Car Builders’ Association formed the Committee on Tank Cars, composed of the mechanical officers from several railroads. The committee recommended practices that were soon established as industry standards for the construction and repair of tank cars. The American Railway Association and its successor, the Association of American Railroads (AAR), later adopted the standards. The AAR Tank Car Committee is charged with reviewing and revising standards to advance tank car safety.

Car Repair Billing Committee (CRB)

Car Repair Billing Committee is tasked with establishing, improving and maintaining AAR rules and procedures for the proper pricing and billing of repairs performed to equipment owned or operated by subscribers of the AAR Rules.

Equipment Assets Committee (EAC)

An AAR committee tasked with the mission to maximize car utilization through the management of and recommended changes in interpretations of the Car Service and Car Hire Rules.

Engineering Equipment Committee (EEC)

The Equipment Engineering Committee (EEC) develops and maintains design and operation standards for freight cars and their components. It also serves as the oversight committee for the operations of the AAR’s Braking Systems Committee; Wheels, Axles, Bearings & Lubrication Committee; Coupling System & Truck Castings Committee; and Specially Equipped Freight Car Committee. The EEC Committee Manager can answer questions concerning design and construction of freight cars, increased gross rail load, technical certification of new car builders, freight car performance issues, extended service cars, freight car rebuilds and modifications, and draft gear/cushion units. The EEC also has responsibility for Rule 88 compliance, including inspections and review of structural analysis.

North American Freight Car Association (NAFCA)

NAFCA’s primary goal is to educate the public and lawmakers regarding operational, regulatory, economic and legal matters that affect private cars and private car owners and lessees. NAFCA is working to secure the establishment and maintenance of reasonable, equitable and lawful practices and rules affecting the use of, repair of, operation of and principles of compensation for all private cars.

Private Car Owner Committee (PCOC)

The Private Car Owner Committee (PCOC) reports to the Associate Advisory Board. The PCOC provides a forum for private car owners to discuss matters of common concern and will serve as a mechanism to assure private car owners’ input is considered in proposed rule changes put forth by AAR technical committees.

Essentially, the committee will appoint a representative to provide input in the cost-benefit analysis of new or amended rules affecting the interchange of rail cars proposed by a committee where no private car owner associate member is currently seated.

Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC)

RSAC was established to develop new regulatory standards, through a collaborative process, with all segments of the rail community working together to fashion mutually satisfactory solutions on safety regulatory issues. The Committee shall seek agreement on the facts and data underlying any real or perceived safety problems; identify cost-effective solutions based on the agreed-upon facts; and identify regulatory options where necessary to implement those solutions. In determining whether regulations are necessary, the Committee shall take into account section 1(a) of Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review).

The RSAC will provide advice and recommendations to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regarding the development of the railroad safety regulatory program, including issuance of new regulations, review and revision of existing regulations, and identification of non-regulatory alternatives for the improvement of railroad safety. Of course, the RSAC’s own resource limitations will not permit FRA to refer every safety regulatory task to the RSAC. Moreover, on occasion, the need to address a safety issue in an expedited way will preclude such a referral.

Railway Supply Institute Committee on Tank Cars (RSI-CTC)

The RSI Committee on Tank Cars (RSI-CTC) addresses matters of importance to tank car builders and owners and regularly reviews tank car specification requirements through its membership on the Association of American Railroads Tank Car Committee. RSI-CTC remains at the forefront of the latest research to improve tank car safety and represents tank car manufacturers in federal, legislative, and regulatory matters. The Engineering/Technical Subcommittee oversees the RSI/AAR Tank Car Safety Research and Test Project and meets quarterly with the AAR Tank Car Committee to review and develop standards to ensure tank car safety through design, construction, maintenance, and operations.

Trade Associations

American Chemistry Council (ACC)

The American Chemistry Council’s (ACC’s) mission is to deliver business value through exceptional advocacy using best-in-class member performance, political engagement, communications and scientific research. The ACC implemented the Responsible Care program in 1988. Responsible Care is the chemistry industry’s world-class performance initiative. Its companies are industry leaders, bound together by a commitment to address challenges and continuously improve the performance of the chemical industry.

Chlorine Institute (CI)

The Chlorine Institute (CI) founded in 1924, is a technical trade association of companies involved in the safe production, distribution and use of chlorine, sodium and potassium hydroxides and sodium hypochlorite, the distribution and use of hydrogen chloride and the distribution of vinyl chloride monomer.

Industrial Minerals Association – North America (IMA-NA)

The Industrial Minerals Association – North America (IMA-NA) is a trade association created to advance the interests of North American companies that mine or process minerals used throughout the manufacturing and agricultural industries. Examples of minerals represented by the IMA-NA include ball clay, bentonite, borates, calcium carbonate, feldspar, industrial sand, mica, soda ash, talc and wollastonite.

Intermodal Association of North America (IANA)

IANA is North America’s leading industry trade association representing the combined interests of the intermodal freight industry. IANA’s membership roster of over 1,000 corporate members includes railroads—Class I, short-line and regional; water carriers and stack train operators; port authorities; intermodal truckers and over-the-road highway carriers; intermodal marketing and logistics companies; and suppliers to the industry such as equipment manufacturers, intermodal leasing companies and consulting firms. IANA’s associate (non-voting) members include shippers (defined as the beneficial owners of the freight to be shipped), academic institutions, government entities and non-profit associations.

National Coal Transportation Association (NCTA)

The Mission of the National Coal Transportation Association (NCTA) is to provide education and facilitation for the resolution of coal transportation issues in order to serve the needs of the general public, industry, and all modes of transportation. This is accomplished through the sponsoring of educational forums and providing opportunities for the lawful exchange of ideas and knowledge with all elements of the coal transportation infrastructure.

National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA)

The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) is a non-profit trade association that represents the interests of its 450 short line and regional railroad members in legislative and regulatory matters. Short line and regional railroads are an important and growing component of the railroad industry. Today, they operate and maintain 30 percent of the American railroad industry’s route mileage, and account for 9 percent of the rail industry’s freight revenue and 12 percent of railroad employment.

Sulphur Institute (TSI)

The Sulphur Institute (TSI) is an international, non-profit organization established in 1960. TSI is the global advocate for sulphur, representing all stakeholders engaged in producing, consuming, trading, handling or adding value to sulphur. The Institute seeks to provide a common voice for industry and to promote leading practices in the handling and transportation of all sulphur products while protecting the environment and communities in which we operate.

Rail Industry Terms

AEI Tags – Automatic Equipment Identification Tags

Radio frequency devices that contain the unit’s initial and number plus other pertinent information about a piece of equipment that is affixed to each side and each end of the railcar which is read by wayside reader to allow electronic location tracking.

AAR Interchange Agreement

Contract under which subscribers agree to abide by the Code of Rules governing the equipment, condition and repair of freight railcars used in interchange service.

AAR Rule 107

Standard handling guidelines for cars that have been damaged or destroyed—used to recover the cost of the repairs or the asset, if destroyed.

AAR Signatory / Subscriber

Per Rule A.2. Of the AAR Field Manual all freight railroads, interchange freight car owners, and running repair agents must subscribe to the AAR Interchange Rules and be listed in FindUs.Rail.

Car Hire Rules

A set of rules which govern the processes and procedures for payment for the use of railroad marked freight cars and appurtenances (auto-rack superstructures) by all common carrier railroads as referenced in AAR Circular No. OT-10.

CLM – Car Location Message

A CLM is a specialized type of electronic message that is used within the rail industry to track the movements and locations of railcars. Messages are captured by wayside detectors placed along a railroads tracks and reported to Railinc. Railinc gathers the data acting like a central repository for the data.

CHARM – Car Hire Accounting Rate Master

The CHARM file is an industry file that contains all car hire rates currently in effect for each individual piece of equipment. These rates are both the default rates assigned to a car in the absence of a rate established by the agreement between the owner and user, and negotiated rates between two parties through the deprescription process of allowing car owners and car users to negotiate car hire rates for car use.

Car Service Directive/Rules

Standing directive(s) and or rules issued by the AAR that govern the assignment and user of specially equipped freight cars to specific shippers, commodity use, or general railroad agent locations. Car Service Directives are defined in AAR Circular No. OT-10.

DDCTS – Damaged and Defective Car Tracking Systems

The Damaged and Defective Car Tracking (DDCT) system automates the process for tracking, identifying, and repairing railcars through an easy-to-use, centralized web-based application. Users have real-time access to information through a single standardized source and can easily update, retrieve and share information in a timely manner.

Damaged cars are handled in accordance with AAR Interchange Rule 107, and defective cars are handled in accordance with AAR Interchange Rules 1, 96 and 108. AAR Interchange Rule 95 is used for any damaged equipment that can be returned to service.


FindUs.Rail is a web-based centralized database hosted by Railinc that enables users to review and manage their company’s contact information, helping railroad departments, private car owners and leasing companies stay connected.

Mileage Equalization

In the US Mileage Equalization refers to Tank Car Mileage Equalization (TME). TME accumulates the reporting of loaded and empty private tank car mileage by Railinc. Should the empty mileage accumulated by any tank car owner exceed the loaded mileage during the same calendar year by more than six percent, such excess mileage must be paid by the tank car owner to the AAR at a rate which is determined annual. The funds are then distributed to those railroads whose handling of empty tank cars exceeded their loaded handling by more than six percent.

In Canada mileage equalization is managed by individual tariffs issued by the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific railroads. While similar to the US rules, the tariffs allow for equalization charges to be applied to all car types.

OT-5 Loading Authority

The Circular OT-5 system provides a centralized, paperless process for submitting and approving OT-5 applications. It is a web-based communication system that facilitates the potential placement of private freight equipment at specified loading location on a railroad. Rail equipment must be approved for potential loading on a rail road as specified in the Association of American Railroads Circular OT-5 for Rules Governing the Assignment of Reporting Marks, Mechanical Designations and for the Use of Private Equipment, by submitting a Circular OT-5 application to the line haul carrier for the loading location.

Additional features of the Circular OT-5 system include pre-authorization, which allows submitters to gain preliminary authorization for an OT-5 application, and a web-based interface for approving and rejecting applications.

OTMA 49-CFR 174.50 – One Time Movement Approval

Provides procedures for applying for a One-Time Movement Approval in accordance with 49 CFR 174.50 for bulk hazardous materials packaging’s (e.g., tank cars) that do not meet the required design specification (i.e. leaking tank car) and must be moved to a cleaning facility and/or a certified repair shop to complete the necessary repairs and qualifications to bring the packaging back into compliance.

ORER – Official Railway Equipment Register

The ORER is published quarterly and contains a profile of each owner’s registered fleet including details on the AAR mechanical designation, car description, dimensions, capacity and number of cars in a series. The register also contains pertinent information on car owners and agents.

RAMP-ED – Rail Asset Management Process-Exception Disposition

The RAMP-ED system enables railroads, equipment owners and leasing companies to send electronic disposition movement instructions, while recording the details of equipment movement arrangements. The system captures details of equipment move arrangements including equipment assignment initial/number pairs, reference and authorization numbers and contact information.

Reporting Mark

A Standard Carrier Alpha Code (SCAC) consisting of two to four characters used as company identifiers for railroads, and private car owners that is stenciled on owners and lessee equipment and is registered in UMER and FindUs.Rail.

UMLER – Universal Machine Language Equipment Register

The UMLER system is an industry equipment register database that contains railcar specifications required by the AAR Interchange rules for various railcar components, dimensions, carrying capacities, weight, inspection dates and many other fields.

There are over two million pieces of equipment registered in the UMLER system.

WABL – Wheels, Axles, Bearings and Lubrication

The WABL Committee’s mission is to establish, improve, and maintain wheel, axle, bearing and lubrication system interchange standards and rules, and to certify and monitor the performance of new equipment.

US Department of Transportation / Secretary of Transportation Administrations

OIG = Office of Inspector General

FHA = Federal Highway Administration

FMCSA = Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

NHTSA = National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

SLSDC = Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation

RITA = Research and Innovative Technology Administration

FAA = Federal Aviation Administration

FTA = Federal Transit Authority

FRA = Federal Railroad Administration

PHMSA = Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

Association of American Railroads (AAR)

SOMC = Safety and Operations Management Committee

PAMC = Policy & Advocacy Management Committee

NEMC = Network Efficiency Management Committee

TCC = Tank Car Committee

EEC = Equipment Engineering Committee

ARB = Arbitration Rules and Billing Committee