Dillwyn, VA, September 1, 2015. On August 21, 2015 professional staff from the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and the Office of Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) attended a tour of the Buckingham Branch Railroad (BB) in Staunton, VA on the BB’s Richmond & Alleghany Division. The meeting was arranged by the firm of Chambers, Conlon & Hartwell on behalf of the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA). The topic at hand was preservation of the Section 45-G short line railroad tax credit.
Attendees on behalf of the BB included Chairman of the Board Bob Bryant, President Steve Powell, Senior Vice President Gale Wilson, Superintendent of Operations Bill Mitchem, and Director of Business Development Bill Hamilton. Attendees on behalf of the Senator Commerce Committee included Professional Staff Patrick Fuchs, Allison Cullin and Ross Dietrich. Also joining the briefing were Jane Sarnacky, Legislative Fellow in the Office of Senator Wicker; Adam Nordstrom, Partner in Chambers, Conlon and Hartwell; Ashley Bosch, Associate at Chambers, Conlon and Hartwell, and Stella-Jones Regional Sales Manager Eddie Horton. Stella Jones is both a customer and supplier of the BB.
The event kicked off with a safety briefing and an overview of the BB’s current operations, growth, and new construction by BB President Steve Powell. Powell also pointed out that the Buckingham Branch is unique among short lines in that, in addition to BB freight trains, both a Class 1 railroad (CSX) and Amtrak operate trains across BB lines. The Amtrak “Cardinal” operates both east-bound and west-bound trains between Chicago and Washington, DC on BB tracks. The BB, Powell stated, “like most short lines would be hard pressed to maintain the significant level of investment required in our railroad infrastructure without the help of the 45-G tax credit.”
After the briefing, the BB took guests on a technical tour of the BB’s Richmond & Alleghany Division line via caboose to see infrastructure upgrades that were made possible by the 45-G tax credit, incluiding the state-of-the-art LED signal system. After the technical tour, guests were shown the activity underway in the BB locomotive maintenance facility and the rail traffic control center.
The Senate Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over interstate common carriers, including railroads. Senator Wicker is the Senate Deputy Whip and serves on the Armed Services Committee; Budget Committee; Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee; Rules and Administration Committee; and the Environment and Public Works Committee.