Association of American Railroads

Association of American Railroads

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The Association of American Railroads (AAR) is an industry trade group representing primarily the major freight railroads
Rail transport
Rail transport is a means of conveyance of passengers and goods by way of wheeled vehicles running on rail tracks. In contrast to road transport, where vehicles merely run on a prepared surface, rail vehicles are also directionally guided by the tracks they run on...

 of North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

). Amtrak
The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, doing business as Amtrak , is a government-owned corporation that was organized on May 1, 1971, to provide intercity passenger train service in the United States. "Amtrak" is a portmanteau of the words "America" and "track". It is headquartered at Union...

 and some regional commuter railroads
Commuter rail in North America
Commuter rail services in the United States, Canada, and Mexico provide common carrier passenger transportation along railway tracks, with scheduled service on fixed routes on a non-reservation basis primarily for short-distance travel between a central business district and adjacent suburbs and...

 are also members. Smaller freight railroads are typically represented by the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association
American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association
American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association is an association of North American short line and regional railroads. Members include a variety of Class II and Class III railroads. The ASLRRA acts as a lobbying group for member railroads, representing them for both legislation and regulation...

 (ASLRRA), although some smaller railroads and railroad holding companies are also members of the Association of American Railroads. The AAR also has two associate member programs, and most associate members are suppliers to the railroad industry.


AAR was created October 12, 1934 by the merger of five industry-related groups:
  • the American Railway Association
    American Railway Association
    The American Railway Association was an industry trade group representing railroads in the United States. The organization had its inception in meetings of General Managers and ranking railroad operating officials known as Time Table Conventions, the first of which was held on October 1, 1872, at...

  • the Association of Railway Executives,
  • the Bureau of Railroad Economics,
  • the Railway Accounting Officers Association, and
  • the Railway Treasury Officers Association.

Facilities and subsidiaries

The AAR is headquartered in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 not far from the Capitol
United States Capitol
The United States Capitol is the meeting place of the United States Congress, the legislature of the federal government of the United States. Located in Washington, D.C., it sits atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall...

. Its information technology subsidiary, Railinc, is based in Cary, North Carolina
Cary, North Carolina
Cary is a large town and suburb of Raleigh, North Carolina in Wake and Chatham counties in the U.S. state of North Carolina. Located almost entirely in Wake County, it is the second largest municipality in that county and the third largest municipality in The Triangle after Raleigh and Durham...

. Railinc IT
Information technology
Information technology is the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of vocal, pictorial, textual and numerical information by a microelectronics-based combination of computing and telecommunications...

 systems and information services, including the Umler system, the Interline Settlement System and Embargoes system are an integral part of the North American rail infrastructure
Infrastructure is basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function...

. Railinc delivers approximately nine million messages each day over its EDI
Electronic Data Interchange
Electronic data interchange is the structured transmission of data between organizations by electronic means. It is used to transfer electronic documents or business data from one computer system to another computer system, i.e...

 network, including transportation waybill
A waybill or consignment note is a document issued by a carrier giving details and instructions relating to the shipment of a consignment of goods. Typically it will show the names of the consignor and consignee, the point of origin of the consignment, its destination, route, and method of...

s, advance train consists, blocking requests and responses and trip plans. Its applications support railroads, equipment owners and rail industry suppliers along every link of the supply chain
Supply chain
A supply chain is a system of organizations, people, technology, activities, information and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer. Supply chain activities transform natural resources, raw materials and components into a finished product that is delivered to...

. The company maintains the only industry-accepted version of the North American railroad industry's official code tables. Beginning as an information technology department within the Association of American Railroads (AAR), the company was established as a wholly owned, for-profit subsidiary of the AAR in 1999.

Another subsidiary, the Transportation Technology Center, Inc. (TTCI), operates and maintains the Transportation Technology Center
Transportation Technology Center
The Transportation Technology Center, or TTC, is a railroad testing and training facility located northeast of Pueblo, Colorado. It originated as the Department of Transportation's High Speed Ground Test Center as a site to test several hovertrain concepts...

, a 52 square miles (134.7 km²) facility 21 miles (33.8 km) northeast of Pueblo, Colorado
Pueblo, Colorado
Pueblo is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous city of Pueblo County, Colorado, United States. The population was 106,595 in 2010 census, making it the 246th most populous city in the United States....

, that is owned by the United States Department of Transportation
United States Department of Transportation
The United States Department of Transportation is a federal Cabinet department of the United States government concerned with transportation. It was established by an act of Congress on October 15, 1966, and began operation on April 1, 1967...

. The facility is under a care, custody and control contract with the Federal Railroad Administration
Federal Railroad Administration
The Federal Railroad Administration is an agency in the United States Department of Transportation. The agency was created by the Department of Transportation Act of 1966...

. TTCI has an array of specialized testing facilities and tracks. The site enables testing of freight and passenger rolling stock
Rolling stock
Rolling stock comprises all the vehicles that move on a railway. It usually includes both powered and unpowered vehicles, for example locomotives, railroad cars, coaches and wagons...

, vehicle and track
Rail tracks
The track on a railway or railroad, also known as the permanent way, is the structure consisting of the rails, fasteners, sleepers and ballast , plus the underlying subgrade...

 components, and safety devices.


Where appropriate, the AAR represents its members' interests to the public at large and to Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 and government regulators in particular. The AAR works to improve the efficiency, safety and service of the railroad industry, such as through its responsibility for the industry's interchange rules and equipment specifications, e.g. for locomotive multiple unit control
Multiple-unit train control
Multiple-unit train control, sometimes abbreviated to multiple-unit or MU, is a method of simultaneously controlling all the traction equipment in a train from a single location, whether it is a Multiple unit comprising a number of self-powered passenger cars or a set of locomotives.A set of...


One of the AAR's duties is to oversee the assignment of reporting mark
Reporting mark
A reporting mark is a two-, three-, or four-letter alphabetic code used to identify owners or lessees of rolling stock and other equipment used on the North American railroad network. The marks are stenciled on each piece of equipment, along with a one-to-six-digit number, which together uniquely...

s – two to four letter codes that uniquely identify the owner of any piece of railroad rolling stock
Rolling stock
Rolling stock comprises all the vehicles that move on a railway. It usually includes both powered and unpowered vehicles, for example locomotives, railroad cars, coaches and wagons...

 or intermodal freight transport
Intermodal freight transport
Intermodal freight transport involves the transportation of freight in an intermodal container or vehicle, using multiple modes of transportation , without any handling of the freight itself when changing modes. The method reduces cargo handling, and so improves security, reduces damages and...

 equipment (trailers
Trailer (vehicle)
A trailer is generally an unpowered vehicle pulled by a powered vehicle. Commonly, the term trailer refers to such vehicles used for transport of goods and materials....

, semi-trailer
A semi-trailer is a trailer without a front axle. A large proportion of its weight is supported by a road tractor, a detachable front axle assembly known as a dolly, or the tail of another trailer...

s, container
Containerization is a system of freight transport based on a range of steel intermodal containers...

s, etc.) that can be carried on a railroad.


The current president of AAR is Edward R. Hamberger. In addition to the President's Office and Administration & Finance Departments, the Washington office also has Communications, Law, Government Affairs, Policy & Economics, and Safety & Operations departments.

External links