MARS Winter Meeting Looks at Market Share vs. Operating Ratio

Annual Event Set for January 14–16, 2020

CHICAGO—December 18, 2019 (James Street Media Services)—More than 500 people are already registered to attend the Winter Meeting of the Midwest Association of Rail Shippers (MARS), which will be held January 14–16, 2020 in Lombard, Illinois.

The theme for the event is Rail’s 2020 Crossroads: Market Share vs. Operating Ratio. MARS President Tom Surma says declining freight rail traffic and market share will be a focus for presenters and attendees. 

“This year has been challenging for the rail industry, and we will be discussing current impacts to the industry and opportunities to look out for in 2020,” said Surma.

The meeting will be held at The Westin Chicago Lombard, 70 Yorktown Center, Lombard, Illinois. The scheduled speakers include:

•    Lance Fritz, chairman, president and CEO, Union Pacific Railroad
•    Anthony Hatch, president, ABH Consulting
•    Kate Kaufman, head of Shipper Operations, Uber Freight
•    Adam Nordstrom, principal, Viking Navigation
•    Patrick Ottensmeyer, chairman, president and CEO, Kansas City Southern Railway
•    JJ Ruest, chairman, president and CEO, CN Railway
•    Eric Starks, chairman and CEO, FTR Transportation Intelligence
•    Lorie Tekorius, president and COO, Greenbrier
•    CREATE update from William C. Thompson, chief engineer, AAR, and
Tom Livingston, head of State Government Relations and Community Affairs, CSX  
•    Darrell Wallace, executive director, North American Freight Car Association 
•    Mark Yeager, CEO, Redwood Logistics

There will also be a panel discussion on state rail shipper assistance programs, with representatives from several Midwest states. 

In addition to the programs and presentations, the Winter Meeting will offer a range of educational breakout seminars relevant to experienced transportation executives, as well as people new to the industry. Sessions will include: Railroading 101; Railroading 201; Intermodal 101; Transloading 101; Railcar Fleet Management; and other rail freight-oriented topics. 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 starts with a welcome reception on the evening of Tuesday, January 14, a full day on Wednesday, January 15, and a half-day on Thursday, January 16. MARS is also hosting a day-long rail goods and services vendor exhibition on January 15, concurrent with the formal meeting.

Registration is $300 by December 22 for members and for guests, and increases to $350 after that date. Registration can be completed online.

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