Senator Stabenow tours Harsco Rail.

July 19, 2016

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Senator_stabenow_harsco_ludington_tour_017By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.
PERE MARQUETTE TOWNSHIP — U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow toured the Harsco Rail today and discussed pressing rail and manufacturing issues with various rail advocates and business guests. The Railway Engineering-Maintenance and Suppliers Association (REMSA) coordinated the event.  REMSA is a non-profit trade group representing over 340 railway engineers, contractors, and consultants and maintenance-of-way suppliers across the country. The $5 billion railroad maintenance-of-way industry supports over 35,000 jobs nationwide. Seven REMSA members maintain operations in Michigan.

The tour was led by Ray Patterson, senior director of operations and supply chain, Harsco Rail. The tour highlighted Harsco’s rail maintenance of way equipment, which is manufactured on site. The equipment is used by railroads and rail contractors to safely maintain and expand their networks.

The Democratic senator talked about the importance of rail jobs in the United States. She also spoke about the recent designation of the SS Badger as a National Historic Landmark.

“We do not have an economy or a middle class in Michigan unless we make things and grow things,” Senator Stabenow said. “Freight rail supports high-skilled manufacturing jobs here in Ludington and across our state and is critical to moving Michigan-grown products around the country. I remain committed to the right policies that stand up for our manufacturers, our workers, and our farmers.” 

Harsco Rail, a worldwide operating segment of Harsco Corporation, is a global supplier for railway track maintenance and construction. Harsco Rail provides expert engineering, innovative technology, dedicated parts and services, and quality maintenance from nine main locations in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, India, Brazil, China and Australia. Their Ludington facility has been in operation since 1923. It employs approximately 160 and is affiliated with UAW Local #811.

“We are honored to host Senator Stabenow and share our commitment to manufacturing in upstate Michigan,” said Patterson. “Our business and our employees rely on continued freight rail investment for our livelihoods and we must work with our representatives in Washington to encourage sound transportation and investment policy.”

Senator_stabenow_harsco_ludington_tour_022The group discussed the private nature of America’s freight railroad network, which does not rely on federal support for the expansion or maintenance of its right-of-way unlike other modes of freight transportation. The group highlighted recent Congressional considerations of increasing truck sizes and weights. The group thanked the Senator for her vote instructing Senate negotiators to oppose increasing truck size in the October 2015 FAST Act surface transportation bill conference committee negotiations. Also discussed was the recent bipartisan and bicameral introduction of the Building Rail Access for Customers and the Economy (BRACE) Act. The BRACE Act will make the Short Line Tax Credit permanent. This will allow the nation’s small, local freight railroads to increase their reinvestments to upgrade and expand the “first and last mile” of their transportation infrastructure. The bill has garnered 43 bi-partisan cosponsors in the Senate, including Senator Stabenow.

Also in attendance were: Jon Cool, President, Michigan Railroads Association; Craig Fairley, Columbia Plant Manager, Harsco Rail; Michael Gaynor, Assistant Vice President, GoRail; Gerald Kariem, Regional Director, UAW Region 1D; Dan Kosheba, International Servicing Representative, UAW Region 1D; Larry Lloyd, State Director, GoRail; Janet Shinsky, President, Local UAW #811; Alex Whitacre, Ludington Plant Manager, Harsco Rail; and Sean Winkler, Grassroots Coordinator, REMSA.

In Michigan, 27 freight railroads operate and maintain over 3,500 miles of track and support over 3,100 jobs.

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