American Association of Railroads Responds to COVID-19 Crisis

Recent comments from American Association of Railroads (AAR) CEO Ian Jefferies highlight the critical role freight rail carriers have played in shoring up America’s national supply chain during the COVID-19 pandemic.[1]  Mr. Jefferies noted key developments in the government’s response to COVID-19 that have allowed freight railroads to continue operations, and gave special recognition to the contributions made by railroad employees during this national emergency.

Freight railroads deliver a wide variety of goods, including consumer goods, commodities, chemical products, and raw materials to virtually all corners of the nation.  As the COVID-19 pandemic has ratcheted up demand, freight rail carriers and their employees have had to work overtime to ensure an uninterrupted supply.  To that end, from the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) published Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, advising state, local, and industry regulators that freight rail workers should be considered “essential” and thus, exempt from state “stay-at-home” orders put into place.

Mr. Jefferies credits organizations such as the National League of Cities, National Governors Association, National Association of Counties, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors for effectively communicating CISA’s recommendations to governments at all levels to ensure railroad workers can continue their vital work.  And, in order to safeguard essential railroad employees, the AAR has adopted the CDC’s Guidance on Critical Infrastructure Workers, which implements measures such as social distancing, regular cleaning and sanitation of work environments, and regular mask usage.  Measures such as these, in conjunction with the railroad industry’s commitment to service, will ensure a steady supply of much-needed goods to businesses and consumers nationwide, even during these unprecedented times.

[1] See Ian Jefferies on Railroads and the Coronvavirus Pandemic, C-SPAN Apr. 14, 2020, available at https://www.c-span.org/video/?471162-102/washington-journal-ian-jefferies-discusses-railroads-coronavirus-pandemic; see also Coronavirus – Our freight rail network also delivering for America during COVID-19 pandemic, Ian Jefferies, https://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/coronavirus-freight-rail-network-covid-19-pandemic.