Rail Transportation News

Governor appoints RTP Director Lautala to Commission: Pasi Lautala, director of the Rail Transportation Program (RTP) and assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering (CEE), was recently appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to the Commission for Logistics and Supply Chain Collaboration. The newly formed seven-member commission is housed within the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and expected to work with MI local, state and regional governments and the Canadian government regarding supply chain issues such as economic development, trade and commerce, transportation, and industrial affairs.

Rail Transportation Director Pasi Lautala presented at two venues in Michigan this week. On Tuesday, Oct. 29. Lautala presented to the House Standing Committee Meeting for Transportation and Infrastructure in Lansing. His presentation was titled “Freight (Rail) Transportation in the State of Michigan” and focused on the status, needs, challenges, and growth of the freight rail industry in Michigan.

Lautala presented in Sault Ste. Marie on Thursday, Oct. 31, at the Bi-National Twin Sault’s Regional Conference. The conference focuses on Bi-National economic development and initiatives in the Canadian and US corridors and is sponsored by the Upper Peninsula Economic Development Alliance (UPEDA) as well as Upward Initiative. Lautala presented in a panel on the topic of Strategic Initiatives in a Bi-National Transportation Corridor.

Seventeen students from the Michigan Tech Rail Transportation Program (RTP) traveled to Indianapolis from Sept. 28 to Oct. 1, to attend the 2013 Railway Interchange Exhibition and American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) 2013 Annual Conference. Students attended technical sessions and committee meetings, and visited over 600 vendor booths in the exposition hall. The students also provided support for the National University Rail Center (NURail) booth at the Exhibition. Michigan Tech is a member of the seven university NURail consortium.

Michigan Tech students, Antonio Passariello and Tanja Mattonen, were invited to be two of the four student interns of the Conference Operating Committee. Seven Michigan Tech RTP students were identified as AREMA scholarship winners, pulling in over $7,000 in scholarships, and 20 percent of the winners nationwide. Congratulations to Dylan Anderson, Chris Blessing, Antonio Passariello, Sean Pengally, Hamed Pouryousef, Irfan Rasul, and Nicholas Lanoue. A complete list of the scholarship winners is available here and a description of the scholarships.

Pasi Lautala received the second prize in the AREMA Member-Get-A-Member Campaign, awarded at the annual conference.

On Wednesday, Oct 2, Director of Michigan Tech’s Rail Transportation Program, Pasi Lautala, participated at the annual meeting of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) as an invited member of a panel discussion titled, Strategic Workforce Development Partnerships–Transit Organizations, Private Businesses and Academia.

The Michigan Tech Rail Transportation Program recently received gifts from Union Pacific Railroad and Norfolk Southern Railroad. Both gifts were for $20,000 and will be used to support student railroad activities at Michigan Tech.

The Rail Transportation Program at Michigan Tech and Michigan DOT hosted the first Michigan Rail Conference on Aug. 27, at the Lansing Community College, West Campus. Pasi Lautala from the Michigan Tech Rail Transportation Program co-chaired the conference along with Nikkie Johnson from MDOT. They were assisted by a team from Michigan Tech, with Pamela Hannon, Jeff Lidicker, David Nelson, Irfan Rasul, and Sean Pengelly providing logistic support for conference operations. Tech support for the web-cast and recording was provided by Scott Bershing and Chris Delreal. Pam and Jess Juntunen provided additional administrative and logistic support getting ready for the conference. www.rail.mtu.edu/

Community College West Campus on August 27th for the first annual Michigan Rail Conference.A keynote address was given by Tom Carper from AMTRAK, and participants enjoyed a morning plenary session filled with presentations related to rail activities in Michigan. The afternoon was spent in breakout sessions for passenger and freight activities.

On Aug. 15, Pasi Lautala, director of the Michigan Tech Rail Transportation Program, presented testimony to the Michigan Senate Economic Development Committee in support of Senate Bills 397 and 398, which propose to amend the law to allow the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to add a district tailored for the central UP. Lautala was invited to present testimony by senator Tom Caperson, the chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, and a sponsor of the legislation. His testimony centered on the economic impact of rail activities in the Upper Peninsula.

The Michigan Tech Rail Transportation Program (RTP) attended Transportation Research Board’s (TRB) 2013 Barge and Rail Symposium. The RTP, led by Pasi Lautala, sent a group of four students, faculty, and staff to the 2013 TRB symposium in Louisville, KY. Lautala, director of the RTP, supported this national event as an invited member of a panel discussion for a breakout session titled “Crew Change: Recruiting the Next Generation Workforce for Rail and Inland Waterway Navigation.” Also attending the conference were professor Greg Graman (SBE), David Nelson, senior research engineer from RTP, and Irfan Rasul, a grad student in the RTP. The conference focused on interactions between the rail industry and barge activity on our nation’s inland waterways.