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Santa Claus finally arrived this year for the shortline rail industry. As one of the many tax breaks extended with the passing of the new budget bill, Congress re-authorized the 45G tax credit to cover the 2014 tax year. Coming so late in the year, it is hard to see this bill as providing the catalyst for investment and rehabilitation of rail lines that Congress would like it to be, yet the industry is naturally ecstatic to see this valuable tax credit extended. We can only hope the tax credit will be extended for a longer period with the new Congress coming into office in 2015.

In addition to the 45G credit, Congress passed the Shortline Railroad Safety Act of 2014. This new law authorizes $2 Million in funding to support grants for research, development, evaluation and training efforts associated with shortlines. The Short Line Rail Safety Institute will assess short lines’ operations and safety programs and work with the industry to develop and implement safety best practices. The new law is a welcome addition to the industry’s recent safety enhancement efforts. Earlier this year, the ASLRRA and FRA announced plans to launch a six-month pilot project in 2015 aimed at improving and strengthening safety for shortlines that handle crude. With an initial $500,000 grant from FRA and others, the association will form assessment teams to analyze crude transportation safety practices and procedures at the small roads and issue written reports and recommendations to improve safety.

To read more from the ASLRRA, please click here.