PHL Wins ASLRRA’s 2023 Environmental and Veterans Engagement Awards

Pacific Harbor Line (PHL), an Anacostia Company, is the recipient of two of ASLRRA’s annual awards, the inaugural Environmental Award and the Veterans Engagement Award. The Association recognized PHL for these achievements this morning at its Annual Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans, Louisiana.

“PHL has been a leader in the short line industry in the exploration and implementation of sustainability practices on their railroad, including Tier 3 and Tier 4 locomotives, in encouraging ASLRRA to become more involved in ESG issues, and through participation in the EPA’s SmartWay program,” said ASLRRA President Chuck Baker. “PHL has also been a strong and consistent supporter of hiring and supporting veterans. Veterans bring a commitment to safety and mission and valuable experience to the railroad industry.  PHL’s efforts in this area have yielded a company-record 55% of this year’s hiring class being veterans or actively serving members of the U.S. armed forces.”

ASLRRA established the Environmental Award to recognize a Class II or III railroad that has designed and enacted the most innovative and successful environmental initiative in the small railroad industry, with an emphasis on programs that have helped reduce the company’s environmental impact or contribute to meeting sustainability goals for the railroad and/or the shipper.

These latest honors follow PHL’s 2022 reception of ASLRRA’s President’s Safety Award, which recognizes a railroad’s safety record as measured by its accident frequency rate. PHL won the Pacific Region award for companies with 250,000 to 500,000 person-hours worked. “Winning the President’s Award was a wonderful acknowledgement of the processes, follow-up, and results of PHL’s safety culture,” said PHL President Otis L. Cliatt II.

For Anacostia President and CEO Peter Gilbertson, the awards together underscore key elements of the company’s corporate strategy. “Improving the sustainability of rail operations has been and will be an ongoing focus at Anacostia and is manifested through people, safety, technology, and growing rail business. Hiring vets helps everybody,” said Gilbertson. “We thank ASLRRA for the recognition.”

PHL, which operates 96 track miles in service to the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles, has long demonstrated a commitment to sustainability and environmentally friendly operations.  The company was the first short line railroad to join the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) SmartWay program, which helps freight shippers and other stakeholders measure and improve logistics operations to reduce their environmental footprint. The railroad is a supporter of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) initiatives benefitting the community in which it operates.

PHL was also the first railroad to upgrade its entire fleet to EPA Tier 3+ locomotives. The company has since added a Tier 4 locomotive and, this year, will acquire a zero-exhaust emission EMD® Joule battery-electric locomotive from Progress Rail, a Caterpillar company. Other initiatives to reduce emissions and make operations more environmentally friendly include use of solar power, renewable diesel, biodegradable lubricants, and locomotive fleet maximum utilization.

ASLRRA further congratulates PHL for winning the Association’s Veterans Engagement Award. The Veterans Engagement Award recognizes an ASLRRA member employer that demonstrates positive policies toward U.S. veterans and who implements unique programs and practices to hire, recognize, support and engage with veterans in the workplace and the broader community.

When it comes to its workforce, PHL has demonstrated a commitment to recruiting veterans and members of the National Guard and military reserves. Such hiring efforts include attending job fairs for veterans and having a table at local veterans’ events to introduce attendees to PHL and its employment opportunities. The railroad also coordinates with the Pacific Gateway Workforce Innovation Network to identify military-affiliated candidates. As a result, approximately 25 percent of PHL’s employees have served or are serving in the military, and a recent class of new hires set a record with 55 percent of incoming employees identifying as military veterans.

In recognition of its efforts to support employees who are also members of the National Guard or reserves, PHL has received the Pro Patria Award and the Patriot Award from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, an office of the Department of Defense. PHL offers one-on-one support for employees while they are out on active duty and makes sure their families are doing well in the service member’s absence. To honor all its military-affiliated employees, PHL highlights them in the railroad’s annual newsletter, which is distributed to the hundreds of companies with which PHL does business. “Short line railroads have long recognized the value that military veterans bring to our industry,” said Baker. “Pacific Harbor Line has emerged as a leader in recruiting, recognizing, and supporting veterans and their families as they build careers in short line freight railroading. Bringing veterans into the short line environment is a win-win-win-win for the employee, the railroad, the industry, and the country. We’re so pleased to recognize PHL’s efforts in this field.”


About ASLRRA – The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) is a non-profit trade association representing the interests of the nation’s 600 short line and regional railroads and railroad supply company members in legislative and regulatory matters. Short lines operate 47,500 miles of track in 49 states, or approximately 29% of the national railroad network, touching in origination or termination one out of every five cars moving on the national railroad system, serving customers who otherwise would be cut off from the national railroad network.