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It’s Science!

January 21st, 2016

I’m a huge fan of the TV show Mythbusters, and that fact that this is their last season is a loss for all of us, as the show has got a number of people, both young and old, interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Being a tech geek and a Mechanical Engineer by education, their method of proving or disproving a myth by breaking it up into its parts and testing them in ascending scales just shows how using a classical approach to problem solving can take a problem of any size and make it manageable to solve.

For those of you who missed last week’s episode, the team took on a classic demonstration from science class: take a metal container, like a five gallon can, pour some boiling water in it, and seal the vessel. As the vessel cools (either naturally or with some help), a vacuum forms in the can, and the can collapses. Neat trick in small scale, but what happens if your can is a 30,000 gallon railroad tank car?

Needless to say, they did not start right off with the tank car. In fact, they started small, and then worked their way up through a number of different scale situations. In each of the small scale tests, the can collapsed, in some cases spectacularly. With the myth “proved” in small scale, all that was left was to go for the real rail car.

And with a real rail car they did do their tests. It was a T-111 tank car, a single wall steel car of the type that carries all sorts of liquids around this country, and they set up their test the same way they did with the smaller ones, except this time they instrumented the car to get a better and safer view of what was going on, from a safe distance. The first test recreated the small scale tests, and while they were able to pull almost a complete vacuum in the car, nothing happened. In fact, when they substituted their new looking car for one that was really rough around the edges and repeated the test, nothing happened. It took them dropping a concrete block on the rough car to induce a major defect (nothing that we would allow to be used on a railroad) and then pulling almost a complete vacuum to get the car to collapse, and when it did, it was flat.

In the end, the myth was busted. Why was it busted, if they were able to get the car to collapse? Once again, we go back to the process. It took so much additional damage and vacuum to cause the car to crumple that it would be almost impossible to get those conditions to occur in real life. For us, as railroaders, this is a good thing. It tells me that it takes a LOT of force to damage or breach a car, and that maybe some of the people who have concerns about cars being stored near them should take a deep breath. A car just sitting there isn’t going to breach or jump off the tracks on its own. It will take a huge act, admittedly one that will have other consequences to make a car add its contents to an event.

—By Steve Friedland


steven-fb.jpg

Steve Friedland is a well-known leader in the short line industry who has devoted more than two decades to railroading. At the Morristown & Erie Railway, a 42-mile New Jersey short line, he worked in all areas of the railroad, including track, mechanical, signals, and operations. In 1999, he founded Short Line Data Systems, a provider of railroad EDI and dispatching software, AEI hardware, and management consulting to the short line industry. He currently serves as the ASLRRA representative to the AAR’s Wireless Communications Committee and is chairman of the joint AAR-ASLRRA Short Line Information Improvement Committee. He also is a member of the ASLRRA’s board of directors.

Being Heard – Massachusetts Edition

January 7th, 2016

So here I am up in Massachusetts, about eight weeks into this new job, and I get an email telling me about a public hearing that the Joint Committee on Transportation of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was having, and that there was a bill that would allow the transfer of surplus railroad property from the DOT to the railroads in Massachusetts. Time to get the tie and jacket out of the closet in New Jersey and bring them up north to go to the statehouse in Boston to testify.

As I have written many times before, going to see politicians is something I have done for many years now, but in New Jersey we really dealt with the politicians on the national front, like congressmen and senators, and not as much with the state assemblymen or senators. I think this was more because there really was not as much legislation that applied to the railroads, and most railroad issues were handled directly by the DOT. As I have now found out, this is not the case in Massachusetts, and I was off to speak to the Joint Committee on Transportation.

As I mentioned above, this was a public hearing, and comments on roughly 30 different bills were going to be heard. For those of you who remember the TV show The West Wing, there was an episode that dealt with the day that the President’s staff had to meet with the general public and hear about all of the (sometimes crazy) ideas for the path that the president should follow. The hearing I was at was not terribly different. There were people who wanted to express their support for bills covering electronic traffic ticket generation, illegal use of handicap parking placards, bicycle paths and protective side guards on trucks, and medical examinations for some types of bus drivers, and then of course, the railroaders.

Instead of each of us going up one at a time to testify, we set up two panels of people to speak to the committee. Each of us on the panels got a chance to speak on the bill, which would benefit the small railroads by allowing MassDOT to make surplus materials, like rail or ties and other equipment directly available to them instead of having to sell the materials for scrap. What happens now is that we generally end up repurchasing the same materials from the dealers (at a higher price, and sometimes with funds from state grant programs), and we don’t get as big a bang for our buck as we can. While we were just a small percentage of the people who spoke that day, one thing that I noticed was that the committee members were listening to what we were saying, which wasn’t exactly the case during some of the other testimony. At any time, some of the members were looking down into their phones or doing paperwork, but when we were up there, I was able to make eye contact with each of the members there.

While I am sure that the content of our testimony was forgotten in minutes after we left, the important thing was that we were heard, and our support was on the record.

—By Steve Friedland


steven-fb.jpg

Steve Friedland is a well-known leader in the short line industry who has devoted more than two decades to railroading. At the Morristown & Erie Railway, a 42-mile New Jersey short line, he worked in all areas of the railroad, including track, mechanical, signals, and operations. In 1999, he founded Short Line Data Systems, a provider of railroad EDI and dispatching software, AEI hardware, and management consulting to the short line industry. He currently serves as the ASLRRA representative to the AAR’s Wireless Communications Committee and is chairman of the joint AAR-ASLRRA Short Line Information Improvement Committee. He also is a member of the ASLRRA’s board of directors.

Got Your Back

December 21st, 2015

One thing that sets the railroad industry apart from a lot of other ones is the fact that most training is done in the field and not in the classroom. Yes, there are a lot of items that you learn and study out of a book, but you really learn how to railroad as you practice your craft. Because of that, mentoring is an essential part of every railroader’s career. We all hear about the old timers in a company, and while to a young guy they may be crusty and old fashioned, those people are the ones who will teach you how to railroad properly. Admittedly, it may be through showing you the wrong way to do something, but in most cases these people will be the ones who give you the right tools to do your job.

I have had a number of mentors throughout my career, and they have come from all areas of the industry. It started with my supervisors and co-workers at the Morristown & Erie, and also my father, who I had pleasure of working with for a number of years. As my job responsibilities spread outside of the realm of the M&E, I met and took the teaching and advice of any number of industry leaders to heart, and all of that input helped me grow into who I am now. It is truly flattering now when someone comes to me for advice, and as a veteran in the industry, it is my responsibility to keep the “circle of life” going.

Last week I was in Chicago for SDS helping a company start up two railroads. As part of what I do with SDS there is always some mentoring of the customer, because it always comes out in conversation that they do something one way, and I would always discuss how we would do things on our railroad. This time, things were a little bit different. The company actually chose SDS in part because of the mentoring that would be available to them. While I did get paid for the software, the advice is on me. I was also flattered to see that the will to mentor didn’t stop with me. I got to see a friend at another railroad in Chicago while I was there, and I told him about my client, and what they were doing. Almost immediately he told me that their offices were near where he lived, and offered if they needed any assistance, he would be happy to stop by and see them, and if his railroad could be of assistance they would be happy to help. Needless to say I thanked him for the offer, and put him in touch with my client, who was happy to have a local “big brother” in addition to what I could offer them.

As we come to the end of another year, and we will look at who has left us and where we are going in the new year, we should all take the time to both absorb what we can from those who know, and try to pass our knowledge on to those who don’t.

Have a safe and happy holidays, and a joyous New Year.

—By Steve Friedland


steven-fb.jpg

Steve Friedland is a well-known leader in the short line industry who has devoted more than two decades to railroading. At the Morristown & Erie Railway, a 42-mile New Jersey short line, he worked in all areas of the railroad, including track, mechanical, signals, and operations. In 1999, he founded Short Line Data Systems, a provider of railroad EDI and dispatching software, AEI hardware, and management consulting to the short line industry. He currently serves as the ASLRRA representative to the AAR’s Wireless Communications Committee and is chairman of the joint AAR-ASLRRA Short Line Information Improvement Committee. He also is a member of the ASLRRA’s board of directors.

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling…

December 1st, 2015

As a result of my new job up in Massachusetts, I have been spending some significant time on the Mass Pike, which is the major East-West highway in the state. Now I can get over the people who don’t turn on their headlights when it is dark out (this happened twice the other day, so I guess it is a regular practice), but what really has caught my attention are the big trucks. I’m not talking about the twin 33’ trailers I am used to from UPS on the New Jersey Turnpike, I’m talking about the big twins that are allowed up here.

Scary does not begin to describe what it is like to try to pass one of these monstrosities. There is a bit of movement as the trailers try to follow the cab, and if it is windy or raining, you really hold your breath as you try to get past as quickly as possible. The good news is that they only are allowed on the highway itself, as there are “switching yards” set up next to some of the toll booths where these land trains can stop and uncouple the rear trailer so that they can go on the local roads. Even with that the turning radius of the double trailer units is huge.

All of the above has given me more reason to be thankful for the victories we have had in Congress recently regarding large and heavy trucks. There have been three moves in the last month to have amendments that would allow larger trucks on the roads, and with the help of lobbying by the ASLRRA and its members, the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks, and numerous highway safety advocates, all three were defeated. However, this was only temporary victory. The forces for the larger trucks are strong, and we need to continue this coalition to make sure the next time this pops up, we can continue to keep the large and heavy trucks off the road.

There are those who would try to say that we are trying to block the big trucks for business reasons, and while you could make a business case that this is true, what is much more significant is the safety issues for all of us who have to use the roads with these monsters of the road.

—By Steve Friedland


steven-fb.jpg

Steve Friedland is a well-known leader in the short line industry who has devoted more than two decades to railroading. At the Morristown & Erie Railway, a 42-mile New Jersey short line, he worked in all areas of the railroad, including track, mechanical, signals, and operations. In 1999, he founded Short Line Data Systems, a provider of railroad EDI and dispatching software, AEI hardware, and management consulting to the short line industry. He currently serves as the ASLRRA representative to the AAR’s Wireless Communications Committee and is chairman of the joint AAR-ASLRRA Short Line Information Improvement Committee. He also is a member of the ASLRRA’s board of directors.

And We’re…Moving On! Part 2

October 30th, 2015

Back in June when I walked out of the Morristown & Erie as an employee for the last time, I really didn’t think that I would be walking into the front door of another railroad as an employee any time soon. Why, you ask? Part of the reason was that I had spent almost all of my working life at one company, one that I have huge emotional ties to, and to be honest I wasn’t ready to be put into that situation again.

I had a great summer. I did a lot of work with SDS, travelled to a number of new and potential customers, spent time with my family, built a shed in the back yard, went on vacation, and basically got to sleep at night for six months knowing that there wasn’t a chance that the phone was going to ring and I would have to go out and turn off a grade crossing that was malfunctioning. And while I did enjoy myself, I did start reaching out to my network of railroad contacts letting them know that I might be interested in something if the right thing came along. Other than that, I put my resume in with one of the recruiters in the industry, and that was it. I would call it looking, but not searching.

Fast forward to September, and I got a call from Bob Bentley, an old friend who is president of Cambridge Communications & Signal Systems, who was inviting me to a demo of the PTC system that they had developed for shortlines. At the end of the conversation, Bob said to me, “So, I hear that you aren’t at the M&E anymore. Are you looking for something else?” Bob has been involved with the Massachusetts Central Railroad since its inception, and it turns out they were looking for someone to run the railroad. After a month of interviews, discussions, negotiations, and a number of very deep and serious discussions with my family, I can now say that the person that they found is me, and on Wednesday I accepted the position of vice president and general manager.

As I now embark on this new adventure, I can say that I am very excited about this new opportunity. The more I learn about the property, the more I see how my skills and ability will work well with the team that has made the railroad a quality operation. Together we will grow, and grow the business. My life will not be the only thing to change. I am going to have to be away from home in New Jersey during the week, and I know that this not going to be easy for Holly, Andrew and Rob. But, like the team at the railroad my team at home will work together on this, and we will make the best of it.

So, that is my story of what I did on my summer vacation. The good news is that I think I will have a whole new set of stories to tell going forward.

—By Steve Friedland


steven-fb.jpg

Steve Friedland is a well-known leader in the short line industry who has devoted more than two decades to railroading. At the Morristown & Erie Railway, a 42-mile New Jersey short line, he worked in all areas of the railroad, including track, mechanical, signals, and operations. In 1999, he founded Short Line Data Systems, a provider of railroad EDI and dispatching software, AEI hardware, and management consulting to the short line industry. He currently serves as the ASLRRA representative to the AAR’s Wireless Communications Committee and is chairman of the joint AAR-ASLRRA Short Line Information Improvement Committee. He also is a member of the ASLRRA’s board of directors.

Be Heard, Part 2

October 9th, 2015

Last week I was in Washington, DC, to accompany my wife for a conference that she was attending. While she was in sessions, I had the days to myself, and I had the obvious options to do, like going to the museums or spending time with my mother in-law (she was there with my father in-law, who was teaching at the conference), but I decided instead to follow up on the Railroad Day on Capitol Hill visits made in June with visits to six of our legislators from New Jersey who had not signed on as co-sponsors to the 45G infrastructure tax credit. I was joined in my adventure by Ashley Bosch from Chambers, Conlon, & Hartwell, which is the ASLRRA’s lobbying firm in DC, and over the seven hours we covered a lot of territory.

Of the six meetings, five were on the House side, and we had one on the Senate side. The House meetings came first, and in four of the five meetings we met with a staffer, and in in one we met with Rep. Donald Payne Jr. himself, who wanted to discuss the tax credit and PTC, and his legislation that he has proposed for crude oil carrying tank cars. All of the meetings were successful on the House side, and by the time the day was done we had picked up two more co-sponsors for H.R. 721, which is the tax credit legislation, and we are still working on the others for their support. On the Senate side, the meeting was also successful, and we are still working on Sen. Booker for his support.

Was the day successful? Absolutely. As I have said many times before, being heard by your representatives in Washington, DC, is important, and if they get to hear from you more than once in a year, they really start to know that you care, and also they may start to pay attention to your issues. A good example of this was one of our meetings that took place with the chief of staff of a House member who we have known for years. Before we walked in, I told Ashley that this meeting would be very quick, and we would have everything done in less than five minutes. She gave me a slightly concerned look and said ok, but I don’t think she believed me. We walked in, said our hellos, and had everything done in less than five minutes. Why? Not only did I not have to re-explain why we were there, he knew what the topics were going to be, and had the answers we needed. In fact, he needed our help, because they had been trying to reach the sponsor of H.R. 721 and were having a hard time. In the end, it was another example of how having the relationship makes these things work, and the value of a face to face meeting.

By the time our time in DC was done, I did get my museum time, and yes, I did spend some time with my mother-in-law. But in addition to my “fun” time, I did get to take a little time on a rainy day to do what I could for the cause.

—By Steve Friedland


steven-fb.jpg

Steve Friedland is a well-known leader in the short line industry who has devoted more than two decades to railroading. At the Morristown & Erie Railway, a 42-mile New Jersey short line, he worked in all areas of the railroad, including track, mechanical, signals, and operations. In 1999, he founded Short Line Data Systems, a provider of railroad EDI and dispatching software, AEI hardware, and management consulting to the short line industry. He currently serves as the ASLRRA representative to the AAR’s Wireless Communications Committee and is chairman of the joint AAR-ASLRRA Short Line Information Improvement Committee. He also is a member of the ASLRRA’s board of directors.

Catching my Breath

September 23rd, 2015

Wow, has it been a busy month. Since the middle of August, it seems all I have done is get on airplanes. Not all of it was for work, but most of it was. Things started out with the ASLRRA Joint Committee meetings in Sacramento that I described last time, continued on a quick vacation with the family to San Diego, and finished with a marathon trip to Canada and the ASLRRA Central/Pacific Regional meeting. While it was definitely an “Ice and Fire” trip weather-wise, I also got to experience what short line railroading is like in Canada, and surprisingly, it isn’t that different from what happens in the U.S.

So my nine day, six flight, 6000-mile adventure started with a trip to the Great Sandhills Railway in Leader, Saskatchewan. Where is Leader you ask? Well, it is a three-hour ride from Saskatoon or a five-hour ride from Calgary. In other words, yes, it is in the middle of nowhere. My drive from Saskatoon included lots of farm fields, grain elevators, and even oil fields (not doing a lot of pumping), and by the time I arrived in 700 resident Leader, I had a new definition of rural.

What was interesting about the visit was the railroad. While they considered themselves a “small” railroad (they had roughly ten times the traffic of a lot of railroads I deal with), they ran the operation the same as any other railroad that I have been to. While their rulebook was different, the ideology was the same as we use in the States, and it was kind of funny to hear their freight agent have the same complaints about customers that you would hear from me or any other customer service person at a railroad here. In the end the differences were of scale, not concept, and it was good to see the operation in September instead of January.

My trip from Saskatchewan to Scottsdale, Arizona had me on three flights crossing the country north to south, and from 40 degrees F in Canada to 105 degrees F in Arizona. This year the ASLRRA regional meetings are debuting a new format, with a change from a talking head at the front of the room to a more interactive and engaging program for the attendees. From both my observations and discussions with other attendees, not only did the new program work, but one President of a railroad mentioned to me that he really should send his middle managers to one of the other meetings in Erie or Atlanta, because the program would definitely suit them.

The next meeting on the slate is the Eastern Region meeting in Erie, Pa., October 18-20. There is still time to sign up for the meeting, and room in the hotel. If you can’t make Erie, then Atlanta will host the Southern Region meeting November 15-17. The education and interaction available at these meetings can’t be matched elsewhere, and the value for the money is exceptional.

I’m going to be at both of the regional meetings. For now, however, I’m happy to be home, catching my breath after running (or flying) all over the continent.

—By Steve Friedland


steven-fb.jpg

Steve Friedland is a well-known leader in the short line industry who has devoted more than two decades to railroading. At the Morristown & Erie Railway, a 42-mile New Jersey short line, he worked in all areas of the railroad, including track, mechanical, signals, and operations. In 1999, he founded Short Line Data Systems, a provider of railroad EDI and dispatching software, AEI hardware, and management consulting to the short line industry. He currently serves as the ASLRRA representative to the AAR’s Wireless Communications Committee and is chairman of the joint AAR-ASLRRA Short Line Information Improvement Committee. He also is a member of the ASLRRA’s board of directors.

Face Time

August 24th, 2015

I really don’t need to explain why, in this day and age of constant electronic communication, face to face time is extremely important. Call me old fashioned, but you can get more done in a day with five smart guys in a room than you can in a month of emails. That being said, imagine what you can do with 50 smart people in the room.

This happened at the ASLRRA’s first ever six committee joint meeting in Sacramento last week. In a day and a half of presentations, discussions, and debate, the Legal, Mechanical, Passenger, Police & Security, Safety & Training, and Technology committees met to work together on the issue of Positive Train Control, and what the ASLRRA’s and the committees’ next steps are. What I found truly energizing about the meeting was how the group worked together. Everyone in the room was a smart person in their subject area, and the open sharing and discussion on ideas was simply reassuring that we can make this work, even with the bumps in the road that are going to be in front of us.

I’ve been involved in the committee process for roughly 15 years now, and it has been rare for multiple committees to work together. Why? Most of the time, it has been because the subject matter is really suited to that single group. There may have been a little crossover here and there, but for the most part we stayed in our silos. Now, PTC has presented us with a need for us all to talk and work together (no one yelled “Avengers Assemble” but you get the idea). When we first looked at PTC in 2009 shortly after the RSIA of 2008 was passed by Congress, we all thought about PTC as something you put on your locomotive. None of us thought at the time that PTC would involve back office computer systems, multiple forms of wireless communication systems, liability issues, rules enforcement, and probably a half dozen areas that we haven’t covered yet.

So what is next? There are two paths here: first, all of the committees will go back and work on the action items that the group came up with, and second, that can’t be the last time a group like this meets. All of the committee people are working on a process to facilitate meetings like this in the future. Let’s be honest here folks, PTC is not going to be the last 900 pound gorilla in the room, and while it may not require the same mix of committees next time, we still need to meet as a group and have the exchange of information and ideas. It is how railroads have worked for over 150 years, and while the subjects have changed from what standard gauge should be to PTC, in the end we all do work together.

—By Steve Friedland


steven-fb.jpg

Steve Friedland is a well-known leader in the short line industry who has devoted more than two decades to railroading. At the Morristown & Erie Railway, a 42-mile New Jersey short line, he worked in all areas of the railroad, including track, mechanical, signals, and operations. In 1999, he founded Short Line Data Systems, a provider of railroad EDI and dispatching software, AEI hardware, and management consulting to the short line industry. He currently serves as the ASLRRA representative to the AAR’s Wireless Communications Committee and is chairman of the joint AAR-ASLRRA Short Line Information Improvement Committee. He also is a member of the ASLRRA’s board of directors.

Farewell to a Friend

August 3rd, 2015

As has happened a bit too much recently, I received a shock on Friday afternoon. I found out that one of my close friends in the industry, Mike Paras, general manager of transportation for the Belt Railway of Chicago had passed away suddenly the day before. Mike was someone who I had got to know well over the years due to our involvement with the ASLRRA’s Technology Committee, and actually had the pleasure of “asking” him to become the Chairman of the committee a couple of years ago (I’ll explain the New Jersey definition of “asking” below, so stay tuned).

The greatest compliment that can be given to someone in upper management is to be a person other people, even those outside of the company, would want to work for. Mike was one of those people. I have never seen someone more dedicated to improving his people. And while that may not surprise some of you, with Mike it was at all levels. A couple of years ago he did a breakout at the ASLRRA Connections about advanced learning and utilizing online resources to improve your staff, and it was amazing to see the interest in the session in a group of people who normally are concerned with ties, Railroad Retirement, and tax credits.

I also had the pleasure over the last four years to participate on the Technology Round Table at Connections with Mike and Carl Belke, who is the other past chair of the Committee. The three of us billed the session as a discussion about what was going on with technology in the Short Line industry, and it always turned into an hour long group discussion with the audience covering just about everything. While we always seeded our moderator with questions, none of us knew where the conversation was going to go, and there was never any silence in the room, as we all had a fun time.

As I said above, Mike was “asked” to be the Tech Committee chair. Carl Belke and I did it a couple of years ago when the chair at that time couldn’t continue with the post. Now, you have to understand that when you have two Jersey guys talking to a Chicago guy, “asking” takes on a whole different tone. In other words, it was an offer he couldn’t refuse, and he knew it. He had one request, that Carl and I would be sure to have his back with the committee, and we were both there at his side, and proud to be there.

When Mike heard that I had left my job at the M&E in June he was one of the first people to reach out to me and to see what my plans for the future were. Every time we communicated since then he asked me how things were going, and there was always a suggestion for what I should do. We had planned to be together in Sacramento this month at an ASLRRA committee meeting, and one of our last conversations started with the email telling him that I had made my reservations entitled “Got your back.”

Mike, we will always have your back. Your committee is already working to cover for your absence at the meeting, and while Carl and I will find the next person to “ask”, it is going to be a really hard seat to fill.

—By Steve Friedland


steven-fb.jpg

Steve Friedland is a well-known leader in the short line industry who has devoted more than two decades to railroading. At the Morristown & Erie Railway, a 42-mile New Jersey short line, he worked in all areas of the railroad, including track, mechanical, signals, and operations. In 1999, he founded Short Line Data Systems, a provider of railroad EDI and dispatching software, AEI hardware, and management consulting to the short line industry. He currently serves as the ASLRRA representative to the AAR’s Wireless Communications Committee and is chairman of the joint AAR-ASLRRA Short Line Information Improvement Committee. He also is a member of the ASLRRA’s board of directors.

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

July 27th, 2015

Over the years, I’ve made no secret about my general dislike of being on the road. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that it is a very necessary part of the business, but there is one very unfortunate part about it that I really don’t love, and that is the large amount of time spent waiting to do your job. I don’t believe in the zip in, spend minimum time at the customer, and zip out method of travel, because as a small businessman, the face to face time is important, and you can take care of more problems and prevent bad habits from forming by being there. Also, let’s be honest, not all railroads are near major air transportation hubs (ever been to Stettler, AB, or Clinton, OK), and the travel itself may take a day to unravel itself.

So what do I do to try to avoid the boredom of staring at the walls of a hotel room? First of all, I try to avoid room service if I can, because it’s real easy to get into a hibernating bear mode. Now if I have work that I need to get done for the customer that will take precedence, but if I can get out I do. If you aren’t comfortable sitting is a restaurant by yourself during their rush hour go earlier or later. Bring something to read, or check your email on your smartphone. You also could sit at the bar and talk to the other people there. What do you have to lose?

Another thing I try to do is see what museums are in the area. As I am a fan of planes, spacecraft, and cars, you’d be surprised at what you find all across the continent, and nothing beats being able to see a real historical artifact with your own eyes. If it wasn’t for finding these places, I would have never have seen the “Miracle on the Hudson” plane in Charlotte, Dan Gurney’s 1967 Grand Prix winning car in Naples, and visiting these places do more than fill my schedule; they help support these institutions, and allow them to preserve these pieces of history.

Finally, if none of the above is an option, I go shopping. I don’t go out and spend the profits (ok, well maybe some of them), but I do try to find a mall or a hobby shop and do a little retail therapy. One of the nice things about a mall is that you can get some walking mileage in, and that also helps to prevent hibernating bear mode from kicking in.

No matter how you slice it, being a road warrior is not a particularly glamourous life. It’s how you utilize the down time, which at times can be more than the up time, which helps make the road a little more palatable.

—By Steve Friedland


steven-fb.jpg

Steve Friedland is a well-known leader in the short line industry who has devoted more than two decades to railroading. At the Morristown & Erie Railway, a 42-mile New Jersey short line, he worked in all areas of the railroad, including track, mechanical, signals, and operations. In 1999, he founded Short Line Data Systems, a provider of railroad EDI and dispatching software, AEI hardware, and management consulting to the short line industry. He currently serves as the ASLRRA representative to the AAR’s Wireless Communications Committee and is chairman of the joint AAR-ASLRRA Short Line Information Improvement Committee. He also is a member of the ASLRRA’s board of directors.