MARS to Focus on How Freight Shippers Can Drive Change in 2017

January 11–12 Winter Meeting Brings Together Big Rail and Its Diverse Customers

  CHICAGO—November 17, 2016 (James Street Media Services)—Now that rail velocity is accelerating, North American freight shippers are ready to help railroads tackle additional changes that will boost traffic in 2017. 

“Rail Shippers Driving Change in 2017” is the theme of the Midwest Association of Rail Shippers (MARS) Winter Meeting, which will be held January 11–12, 2017 in Oak Brook, Illinois. The event traditionally attracts more than 600 representatives from Class 1 railroads, short lines, and rail customers from all commodity groups.

“Last year, we saw much of the improved speed and responsiveness we had been requesting from the railroads,” said MARS President Mike Jones. “Next, shippers need to see prices stabilize to match service levels.” 

Jones said shippers want to work with the railroads to offer candid feedback, brainstorm solutions, and bring some predictability to freight rail volumes. 

“We asked the railroads to ‘spare us some change,’ and that has begun,” said Jones. “Now, we need to work together to keep that change moving forward.

The agenda for the MARS Winter Meeting is still coming together, but already includes:

  • Keynote speeches from Carl Ice, president and CEO of BNSF, Dave Gardner, vice president at Ingredion, and Clarence Gooden, president of CSX.
  • A status check on the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) program from Stephen Hoye, director of the Chicago Transportation Coordination Office; and
  • Updates on the North American economy, Wall Street activities, railcar supply, and car shop capacity.

In addition to the programs and presentations, the Winter Meeting will once again include a full range of educational breakout sessions such as Railroad 101 and 201, Intermodal 101, and Railcar Fleet Management. There is no charge for these seminars and it is not necessary to attend the conference to attend a seminar. Anyone interested in these subjects is welcome to attend at no cost.

The conference is scheduled to include a welcome reception in the evening of January 10, a full day on Wednesday, January 11, and a half day on Thursday, January 12. The Traffic Club of Chicago is co-hosting the January 11 lunch.

The meeting will be held at the Hilton Chicago Oak Brook Hills Resort, 3500 Midwest Rd., Oak Brook, IL. The cost is $245 for members and for guests.

The early registration deadline is Monday, December 26, and can be completed online at:

Hotel rooms can be reserved online at the special MARS rate until December 26 or the reserved block sells out.

About The Midwest Association of Rail Shippers
The Midwest Association of Rail Shippers (MARS) is one of five regional North American associations under the North American Rail Shippers (NARS) national organization. Headquartered in the Chicago area, MARS provides an open forum for discussion and resolution of rail transportation issues by bringing railroads, shippers, receivers, and rail supply companies together twice annually for formal meetings in the Chicago area. To review the most recent meeting presentations and to inquire about MARS membership, please visit the MARS website at


Bill Fahrenwald
James Street Associates