About Us

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.

BanksCharles Banks


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.


WithersKen Withers, P.E.

Vice President

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.


SchuchmannWalter 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.


SullivanStephen M. Sullivan

Managing Director

Mr. Sullivan joined RLBA in 2013 after twenty five years with Class I railroads and thirteen years with an industry trade association representing more than 500 Class II and Class III railroads.  During his Class I railroad careers Mr. Sullivan held managerial responsibilities in line operations, strategic planning, multi-modal analysis, capital planning, terminal optimization studies, as well as mergers and acquisitions. His trade association career featured daily interaction with freight and passenger railroads, both large and small, regarding service planning and design, capital investment, data analysis and regulatory compliance.  Mr. Sullivan developed working relationships with Class I railroads, short lines, Amtrak, commuter railroads, State, local and Federal government agencies.  He has prepared position papers and testimony on behalf of Class II and Class III railroads and he has testified before Congress on railroad infrastructure and capital investment.


McLaughlinJohn W. McLaughlin

Director, Market and Network Solutions

John McLaughlin focuses 28 years of railroad, intermodal, and motor carrier experience on clients’ needs. His 18 years at Conrail developed expertise in railroad operations analysis, planning, costing, car scheduling, service design, customer service management, and intermodal marketing and pricing. He managed the penetration of the truckload motor carrier market, the launch of run-through intermodal services to Kansas City, Memphis, and Atlanta, and coordinated service management to exceed the on-time service requirements of Conrail’s U.S. Mail contract. In nine years of LTL motor carrier market research, at Jevic Transportation, he established and managed market research processes that led to the penetration of 8 new geographic markets. He led the company’s cross-functional web development team in defining user requirements, programming development, testing, and implementation.


MeadowsLee 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


MesserThomas C. Messer

Manager, Western Region

Tom 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).


OstrowJoseph M. Ostrow

Manager, Western Region

Jay Ostrow brings over 35 years of railroad management experience concentrated in freight pricing, line segment evaluation and market research. For nearly 20 years, he held a variety of senior management and other positions with Union Pacific Railroad (UP) and carriers which it acquired or with which it merged, including Vice President in UP’s Marketing and Sales Department. With RLBA, he managed a feasibility study evaluating use of using existing railroad right-of-way and/or track owned by UP to host a separate diesel light rail passenger service (known as eBART) that would transport riders between Tracy or Brentwood and one of two existing BART stations, Pittsburg/Bay Point or North Concord/Martinez. He also managed a study involving potential extension of Caltrain service to Hollister and led an examination of potential commuter and visitor rail service on behalf of Napa and Solano Counties. Mr. Ostrow has participated in evaluation of potential waste and bulk movements, drawing upon his close relationship with senior UP management and extensive knowledge of both UP’s and BNSF’s traffic in the region.


MengelsG. Rob Mangels, Jr.

Senior Mechanical Associate

Mr. Mangels specializes in providing new and unique ways to operate, design and build intermodal transportation systems and infrastructures, including the restoration and operation of historic rail and marine equipment.  His qualifications include administrative, technical, and business development related skills including accounting, engineering, marketing, and financial planning.  He also provides railroad technical training for locomotive engineers, conductors, and mechanical staff.  Mr. Mangels is currently working with various owners of many rail passenger cars in their efforts to upgrade and rehabilitate them, including some to Amtrak standards.  He also is contracted to perform Supervisor of Locomotive Engineers duties, provide airbrake, operating rules, safety, hazmat and train handling instruction for several short line railroads in New York and Pennsylvania, as well as consulting clients around the nation.


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

Tom Chase, recently 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.


Davidson A. Ward

Principal Consultant

Davidson Ward has worked on passenger, freight, transit and infrastructure assignments since joining RLBA. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Ward brings strengths in digital cartographical skills, graphic design, master planning and critical analysis to RLBA. Since joining the firm, he has had a hand in completing NEPA-related surveying, alternatives analysis with regards to LRT corridors, analytical engineering analysis in the context of litigation support, preliminary intermodal station design, formulation of a detailed Awards Fee Employee Incentive program with regards to passenger rail employees as well as freight railcar lease negotiations.  His work as a project manager has encompassed both freight and passenger rail assignments.  Ward’s writing and photography have been featured in Trains Magazine and he is a member of the Transportation Research Board AR 020 committee on Passenger Rail Equipment and Systems Integration and its subcommittee, Railroad Environmental Research Issues.


IrelandJohn D. Ireland

Principal Consultant

A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, John D. Ireland joined RLBA in 2014 after serving in the United States Navy. Since joining RLBA, Mr. Ireland has been involved in numerous freight railroad operations and economic assignments to a variety railroad and shipper clients. He has provided expert railroad operations analysis to clients engaged in proceedings before the Surface Transpiration Board. Additionally, he has managed a number of rail valuations projects, working closely with clients to develop and select methodologies appropriate for each unique situation. As a Surface Warfare Officer in the United States Navy, he served in various operational and engineering management and supervisory positions. Through his collegiate studies and military experience, Mr. Ireland brings expertise in management, operational planning, critical analysis and railroad operations.


TourenqMaurice A. Tourenq

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. While at Boston University, he took courses in project management, marketing research, real estate development and negotiations. Mr. Tourenq’s responsibilities at RLBA include proposal writing, research and analysis. Mr. Tourenq brings an enthusiastic love of transportation and eagerness to the office.