R.L. Banks & Associates, Inc. (RLBA) is a multidisciplinary railroad consulting firm providing economic, operational and engineering counsel in freight, high speed and commuter railroads and light rail operations. RLBA features more than 60 years of experience in providing expert analytical services and powerful litigation support to a nationwide group of clients representing every principal segment of the economy: transportation, industrial firms, financial and service institutions, agriculture, public utilities, communities and government.
Charlie Banks, at RLBA since 1985, has focused on railroad negotiations strategic planning and evaluating the economics of financing the acquisition, expansion and rehabilitation of numerous short line and regional railroads, often assessing their potential viability as part of due diligence studies performed by the firm. He has examined the competitive economics of continued or proposed unit coal train movements to utilities and industrial customers on many rail lines. When evaluating intermodal and intramodal transport competition and other modal choices, Mr. Banks has interviewed hundreds of the largest existing and prospective rail customers on the I&M Rail Link, Wisconsin Central Ltd., Iowa Interstate Railroad, Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad and more than a dozen other enterprises as well as many large industrial customers served by Class I railroads. Mr. Banks, has provided passenger service implementation and railroad line access counsel to more than a dozen passenger rail clients. On behalf of seven public sector clients including the Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside County Transportation Commissions, and the Maryland MTA, Mr. Banks has completed or is presently undertaking or directing prospective line sale tasks including evaluating alternative access arrangements, valuations and title research. In the eleven years before joining RLBA, Mr. Banks was responsible for intercity, commuter rail and joint terminal operations at the United States Railway Association and worked in the Strategic Planning and Finance Departments at Conrail, the Executive Department at SP and two other rail carriers.
Ken Withers, P.E.
Ken Withers, managed RLBA’s efforts in the completion of nine state rail plans. His experience on evaluation of highway-rail at-grade crossings extends over a number of assignments in several states. He assisted the start up of two commuter railroads and has managed numerous freight and passenger rail studies. He led commuter rail studies for three metropolitan areas and assisted in numerous other commuter, intercity and light rail studies. He was project manager for the planning of passenger rail terminals in two cities, and assisted in other projects involving the development of new commuter rail and intermodal passenger terminals. He assisted in Federal Transit Administration Project Management Oversight (PMO) assignments. He managed the environmental and engineering studies required to determine the specifications and cost of upgrading the 10 miles per hour track of a 110-mile short line railroad to 25 and 40 miles per hour track. He has developed and managed public outreach programs. Prior to joining RLBA, Mr. Withers was in the U.S. Army, rising to the position of Deputy Chief of Engineers. His Army assignments included supervision of planning, design and construction of military and civil works projects, and he was Chairman of the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors.
Walter H. Schuchmann
Vice President, Operations Planning
Walt Schuchmann has led a freight rail capacity on behalf of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and participated in coal, intermodal and solid waste operations and cost analyses as well as contributing to short line and regional railroad due diligence evaluations. He has conducted operations planning and simulation in three STB stand-alone coal rate cases using the Rail Traffic Controller program. Mr. Schuchmann participated in passenger rail service implementation on behalf of Metrolink, Virginia Railway Express, Baltimore’s Central Light Rail Line and NJT’s River Light Rail Line. He also has advised public bodies evaluating the initiation or expansion of intercity passenger or commuter rail services in Kansas City, Nashville, Fort Worth, Orlando, Vermont, South Carolina, Seattle and the north, east and west quadrants of the San Francisco Bay area with respect to service planning, shared passenger-freight line use, access arrangements and railroad institutional issues. He has over twenty-five years experience in the railroad industry including eight as an operating and safety office with Norfolk Southern Railway.
Lee Meadows, P.E.
Director, Transportation Engineering
Mr. Meadows joined RLBA after more than three decades of experience with Norfolk Southern Corporation and its predecessor the Norfolk And Western Railway, during which he held positions with increasing responsibility within the Engineering Department spanning management and engineering of railroad track structure, bridge and building inspection, condition assessment, maintenance, rehabilitation, design and construction as well as railroad operations. Mr. Meadows earned his AS and BS in Civil Engineering Technology from Bluefield State College, Bluefield, WV as well as an MS in Civil Construction Management from Wayne State University, Detroit, MI. He is a Registered Professional Civil Engineer and Professional Land Surveyor in Pennsylvania.
James “Don” Bagley
Director, Transportation Engineering
Prior to working with RLBA, Mr. Bagley spent nearly four decades working with Norfolk Southern Corporation and CSX Transportation, in the Maintenance of Way & Structures and Engineering Departments. Mr. Bagley started with Norfolk Southern predecessor the Southern Railway Company in the Management Trainee program, progressing steadily through positions of increasing responsibility, ultimately serving as Chief Engineer for Norfolk Southern and later as Vice President Engineering and Chief Engineering Officer for CSX Transportation. Between his tenures at Norfolk Southern and CSX, Mr. Bagley spent several years as an independent consultant, first during the years 2000 – 2004 and again from 2008 until present
Larry R. Guthrie
Director of Operations, Service Planning and Analysis
Mr. Guthrie brings 50 years of experience in railroad industry service planning and operations. Prior to working with RLBA, Mr. Guthrie held various operational, engineering, and managerial positions in operations, strategic planning, and finance departments spanning four decades with Norfolk Southern Corporation and its predecessor Norfolk & Western Railway. After a successful career at NS, Mr. Guthrie joined TÜV Rheinland Mobility as a full-time consultant to provide analytical, assessment, certification and planning services to the rail industry. He joined RLBA in 2019 to provide analytical, investigative, capacity, planning, financial analysis, industrial engineering, efficiency, safety, and technical certification services, specializing in resolving rail operations and accident prevention issues.
Thomas C. Messer
Manager, Western Region
Mr. Messer brings more than 26 years of experience in freight and passenger rail planning and analysis. Mr. Messer served Caltrans as Freight Rail Specialist in the Transportation Planning Division. He was the Marketing Director at the Yolo Shortline and lead an independent logistics provider. He specializes in 1) Freight and Intermodal Planning, 2) Passenger and Freight Rail Transportation, 3) Railroad Negotiations and 4) Public-Private Partnerships. He has been a champion of innovative improvements for freight, rail, and goods movement for many years. He is a nationally-recognized expert in his field, having served as a Technical Advisor to both the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Standing Committee on Rail Transportation and the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP).
John D. Ireland
A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, John D. Ireland joined RLBA in 2014. Mr. Ireland has provided a wide array of railroad related operations and economics assistance to a variety of clients including Fortune 100 companies, Federal & State agencies, commuter railroads, short line railroads, private investment firms, banking intuitions and small volume shippers. Assistance topics have included merger and acquisition due diligence, contract review, service planning, rate negotiations, equipment acquisition, market forecasting, asset management, and operations modeling. He has been feature in a several media sources, including the Wall Street Journal and Reuters. Prior to RLBA, Mr. Ireland served as a Surface Warfare Officer in the United States Navy in various operational and engineering management and supervisory positions.
Mr. Cunningham joined RLBA in 2020 after over a decade with a Class 1 railroad and the third largest Port in the United States. During his time with BNSF Railway, Mr. Cunningham held various roles in Operations with responsibility for both bulk freight and intermodal in the Northern California region. Mr. Cunningham also managed Contracts and Joint Facilities for the Southern and Eastern regions of the BNSF system, negotiating agreements with other Class 1 railroads, Ports and Government entities. After his time at BNSF, Mr. Cunningham moved to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey where he was in charge of business development for discretionary cargo. Mr. Cunningham worked with rail, terminal and trucking companies to grow cargo volumes through Port facilities and oversaw the construction of a new on-dock rail facility while at the Port Authority. Mr. Cunningham brings experience in Business Development, Transportation Service Planning, Cost Reductions, Negotiation, Safety, Hazardous Materials and Performance Improvement to the RLBA team.
Maurice A. Tourenq
Senior Transportation Analyst
Mr. Tourenq is a graduate of Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Since joining RLBA in 2015, Mr. Tourenq has primarily focused on report preparation, data production and research support and analysis of a wide range of rail industry issues. He has also contributed to and assisted in the preparation of deliverables for numerous freight and passenger rail assignments for a variety of clients in both the private and public sectors. His project experience covers a variety of railroad areas, including railroad operations analysis, network capacity simulation and modeling, asset valuation, Verified Statements before the Surface Transportation Board, due diligence, passenger rail feasibility, market research and document review.
James “Abe” Zumwalt
A graduate of Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois with a dual degree in Economics and French Language, Mr. Zumwalt brings to RLBA honed analytical, presentation, communication, and management skills alongside an intellectual passion for and historical understanding of American railroads. Prior to Joining RLBA in 2019, Mr. Zumwalt worked with the Rail Passengers Association to strengthen political coalitions to support diversified governmental transportation investment. He conducted socioeconomic impact research of extant and proposed American intercity passenger rail services in order to enhance advocacy work on specific corridors. He worked with the full range of stakeholders in the space, ranging from shortline railroads and equipment owners, international private railroad operations firms, elected officials at federal and state levels, local charity groups and individual advocates. He coordinated and moderated panels at biannual national meetings and various regional meetings for affiliated organizations, and distilled complex policy issues into digestible concepts for 30,000 Rail Passengers members.
Michael E. Allen
Mr. Allen brings 35 years of experience in the industry to RLBA. He began his railroad career evaluating the real estate holdings of a major bankrupt eastern carrier and has since worked with several carriers, customers and engineering firms on railroad right-of-way issues. He has worked in various capacities on several shortlines including customer relations and business development. He has qualified before the Bankruptcy Court as an expert witness in rail operations and equipment utilization and has appeared before the Surface Transportation Board in matters concerning property ownership and condition. Mr. Allen served as the Deputy Coordinator of New Jersey Operation Lifesaver (NJOL) for ten years and represents the New Jersey Railroad Association on the NJOL Board of Directors. He is a regular speaker on grade crossing issues at conferences.
Donald C. Gezon
Senior Mechanical Associate
Don Gezon has been with RLBA since 1997 after serving as Chief Mechanical Officer – Motive Power at the Grand Trunk Western Railroad. Mr. Gezon brings over 30 years of hands-on experience in the railroad industry. His expertise encompasses every aspect of railroad equipment maintenance and associated planning. Mr. Gezon has worked on behalf of railroads, financial institutions, manufacturers and governmental agencies on a number of equipment projects throughout North America and around the world. These include appraisals and/or evaluations of locomotives, freight and passenger cars. Mr. Gezon also has significant experience evaluating equipment maintenance facility specifications and articulating best practices.
Thomas B. Chase
Senior Operations Associate
Mr. Chase joined RLBA after thirty years of railroad employment in operating and planning positions culminating in a promotion to General Manager, Western Region at Southern Pacific Transportation Company. He possesses an unusually wide range of railroad operations experience gained through employment there, at five other Class 1 freight railroads (Seaboard Coast Line, Atlantic Coast Line, Norfolk and Western, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific), at Amtrak and as Superintendent of the Finger Lakes Railway. His career spans both field and staff positions across such diverse functional elements as field operations, transportation and operations planning, terminal operations, train and crew dispatching, locomotive utilization, industrial engineering, car shop, strategic planning and safety responsibilities, through which he has gained deep knowledge of all the functions and duties of both freight and passenger railroad operating crafts. He specializes in developing and implementing cost reduction and other programs, policies, systems and procedures to manage rail transportation systems increasing profits as well as improving customer service.