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.
Stephen M. Sullivan
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.
John 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.
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
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).
Joseph 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.
G. 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.
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.
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.