2014 Annual Conference

The League of Railway Industry Women (LRIW) is thankful for everyone who was able to attend the LRIW Annual Conference held in conjunction with RSI/CMA 2014 + Canadian Rail Summit in Montréal in September.  The event in its entirety welcomed over 1200 people mostly from the US and Canada. LRIW was well represented not only through our conference sessions and facility tours, but also our booth in the exhibit hall where we were able to connect with new women and supporters of LRIW.

We were thrilled to honor our 2014 Outstanding Woman of the Year at the main Opening Session to Wendy Lindskoog, Vice President of Business Management and Corporate Affairs at Alaska Railroad Corp. (ARRC).

Photo: LRIW conference attendees at Stella-Jones site visit with Muriel Jones (center).

Our conference sessions were topical as tank cars are an ever present conversation in the rail industry these days. In addition, LRIW hosted a panel discussion on women in the rail industry. Panelists included three female rail industry executives.

The facility tours of Stella-Jones, DLL Inc., and VIA Rail also proved informative and useful for attendees. These tours are an integral part of our annual conference and the LRIW mission as they serve to help our members grow professionally by giving them an opportunity to learn more about other disciplines of the industry.

Conference Session Highlights:

  • Thomas D. Simpson, President of the Railway Supply Institute, was our first speaker and gave an overview of tank cars and their current status. Specifically, Simpson covered the period from the Lac-Mégantic incident to the current legislation being enacted by both the US and Canadian governments to provide safer movement of crude oil. View Presentation [pdf]
  • Alana MacKinnon, Engineer at Conestoga-Rovers & Associates and the LRIW Canadian Regional Director presented on emergency response actions and the safe cleanup following a derailment. Her presentation covered the “science” of clean up and the procedures that her team utilizes to ensure the safety of all involved. View Presentation [pdf]
  • Our third session, a panel on tank car safety, was held in conjunction with Mechanical Association Railcar Technical Services (MARTS). Panelists included Jim Molnar, Union Tank Car Company; Ken Campbell, GE Rail;  Don Gill, Hempel Coatings; and Larry Strouse, Federal Railroad Administration.
  • Our final session, a panel discussion on Women in Rail, was a new addition to our program. Our executive level panelists included the LRIW 2014 Woman of the Year – Wendy Lindskoog, Vice President of Business Management and Corporate Affairs at Alaska Railroad; Carmen Trevizo, Asst. Director of Engineering Services at Transportation Technology Center Inc.; and Lisa Tuningley, President of  T-Rail Products Inc. Panelists and attendees discussed issues many women face in the workplace and how to become successful in an industry that is male dominated. Other points of interest were how panelists got started in the industry and challenges they faced, how panelists overcame professional obstacles, risks they took to enhance their careers, and how they rose to the corporate level. The panel elicited excellent discussion involving all attendees of the conference and will be something we do again in 2015.

Photo: LRIW conference attendees at site visit to DLL Inc. Lyne Leblanc, DLL Vice President – center front.

Facility Tour Highlights:

  • The first tour was of a Stella-Jones facility that mainly services CN. Stella-Jones is a leading North American manufacturer of pressure treated wood products whose main products are railway ties and utility poles. We took a short driving tour around the facility and viewed the various stages of tie production. The ties are dried outdoors for ten months, milled and then chemically treated with borate to ensure resistance to weather and insect damage. The moisture is then extracted via a vacuum process.
  • We then headed over to DLL Inc., a small and  innovative electromechanical component manufacturer for GE and EMD founded in 1996. Laurent Leblanc, President & Founder, and his daughter Lyne Leblanc, Vice President, were our tour guides and exuded entrepreneurial energy. We viewed all the various work stations and the inventory control process for over a million components in his facility. Mr. Leblanc believes in very strict quality control and attempts to manufacture and control the production of his products without outsourcing. He keeps a backlog of inventory for all ongoing customers to ensure availability. In order to meet demand, he begins production of ongoing fulfillment orders upon shipment of the previous order. They are in the process of expanding and upgrading to SAP to manage their inventory.
  • After lunch, attendees boarded the shuttle to visit VIA Rail. VIA is an independent crowne (state) owned passenger rail company.VIA currently operates 90 locomotives and 400 cars and offers intercity passenger rail services in Canada. After a quick overview of the company, we viewed the “back shop” where the locomotives and passenger cars were being repaired and upgraded and saw the newly renovated passenger cars. Attendees also toured the yard and the operations tower which is manned in 12 hour shifts and is responsible for all yard operations system wide. VIA Rail has 1800 employees, half of whom are women.

A special thank you to Muriel Cronier of Stella-Jones, Lyne and Laurent LeBlanc of DLL Inc., and Alain Deslauriers and Jocelyne Avon of VIA Rail for taking time to welcome and educate LRIW conference participants on the inner works of their respective facilities.

A final thanks to Amsted Rail and IONX Asset Monitoring for sponsoring the audio visual at the LRIW Annual Conference.

View our full 2014 conference schedule [pdf]

We hope to see you next year at the 2015 LRIW Annual Conference to be held in conjunction with Railway Interchange 2015 in Minneapolis, Minnesota on October 4-7. Registration and room blocks will open in January. More details to follow.