Before 1934, there was a plethora of rail-related organizations that operated parallel to each other. On the 12th of October 1934 most of these were brought together under one roof to facilitate the development of rail-roads in the country. The most important of those were:
This amalgamation is basically a trade group that represents the major freight rail-roads in the United States, Mexico and Canada. The best known of the members is Amtrak.
100% of the between-cities passenger services that are found in the U.S. along with a overwhelming majority of intercity rail freight services are made available by ARR members. Over 40 percent (significantly more than any other mode) of the freight load in the U.S. is moved via rail-roads.
The main job of the AAR is to increase the safety and efficacy of the rail services in the country. It lays down the rules and regulations that govern rail use, and works upon the continual maintenance and improvement of the rail-roads. It designs the specifications that contribute to keeping the rail industry safe and cost-effective.
The AAR acts as a representative of it's members in issuing information to the public. It also approaches the government and legal bodies on behalf of it's members.
One of its major duties is distribution of “Reporting marks”. Reporting marks are unique marks composed of 2-4 letters that help identify any piece of rolling stock like trailers, containers, or any other equipment. The use of these marks helps keep a tab on the members' focus on quality of service.
The President of AAR presides at the Washington D.C. Headquarters and is the official spokesperson and authorizing body for policies and plans. He is also involved in developing the annual budget. Edward R. Hamberger is the in-office president.
Headed by Vice President Jeff Marsh, this department takes care of managing funds of the AAR. They also manage the personnel and property, policies, etc for the Association, and also provide it with information technology facilities.
This department is responsible for the information that is given to the various media, and for advertisement of the upcoming schemes. It works with the Government Affairs Department in promoting policies. Vice President for Communications is Patti Reilly.
The Government Affairs Department acts as a link between the AAR's board of Directors, and the government's legislative bodies, in the states and for the country at large. The department is being headed by Senior Vice President Obie O'Bannon.
The legal department gives advice, represents AAR's interests in court, and helps in the development of policies. Senior Vice President Louis P. Warchot supervises this department.
John Gray, Senior Vice President, presides over the Policy and Economics Department of the Association of American Railroads. This department manages the statistical reports of the association, and decides the association's stand on various policy matters. It also has the responsibility of conveying these decisions to the government.
This department looks into the quality issues pertaining to rolling stock, and into matters regarding the repairs, maintenance and development of infrastructure. Such decisions are taken keeping quality and security in mind, as well as environmental concerns. The department is headed by Senior Vice President Robert C. Vander Clute.
This is a subsidiary that is owned by the AAR, presided over by E. Allen West. Railinc provides information technology to the Northern railroads. It supports a huge Electronic Data Exchange Center that transmits almost six million messages per day. It keeps inventories of all the freight equipment owned by the railways.
www.Steelroads.com is a website that caters to rail freight customers, run by Railinc. Railinc operates from Cary, North Carolina.
President Roy A. Allen is in charge of this second auxiliary organization that is located in Pueblo, Colorado. The Transportation Technology Center is a state-of-the-art research and test center that services railroads, both freight and passenger. The center has almost 50 miles of test tracks. The idea is to enhance the safety and productivity of rail transport all over the world.
Example: Amtrak’s Acela Express trains were extensively tried out at the Transportation Technology Center before they were launched.