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.