Rail infrastructure development depends on a successful partnership between the transportation agencies and the rail industry. Because we have long had clients on both sides of this equation, our team knows how to create a close collaboration that can bring complex projects to completion.

Venable's Rail team has a thorough understanding of the existing and evolving issues in railroad law. Through our experience in high-profile matters, we are well versed in dealing with the complex environmental, regulatory, legislative, and business interactions that surround railroad construction and development, acquisitions, and operations.

The basic philosophy of our rail team is simple: careful strategy in the project planning phase, followed by active engagement during environmental review and permitting, speeds project approval, and shields against courtroom challenges. For more than twenty years, the team has implemented this philosophy for numerous new rail construction projects across the county, including projects that brought competitive rail service to shippers, expanded rail line capacity and facilities, extended service into new markets, initiated new high-speed passenger rail possibilities, and created connections to port facilities.

When it comes to seeking Surface Transportation Board (STB) authority for new rail construction, our experience is unrivaled. Venable's team has been instrumental in the environmental and regulatory review of many of the rail projects that have successfully completed STB licensing. When the STB's environmental reviews and regulatory approvals have faced legal challenges from project opponents, Venable's attorneys have joined the STB in defending the agency's decision-making.

Our Rail team has also been involved with numerous rail projects—including both freight rail and high-speed passenger rail—that fall within the primary jurisdiction of other federal agencies, including the Federal Railroad Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Bureau of Land Management. In all of these cases, we have achieved success for our clients by helping them obtain defensible environmental reviews and regulatory approvals. And, when necessary, we have defended those reviews and approvals in court.

Our experience has involved the management and coordination of reviews under a wide variety of federal and state laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Clean Water Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), all of which play a pivotal role in the approval of new rail construction projects.


On a firmwide level, we represent our rail industry clients in a wide range of other practice areas. Our representative experience includes the following matters:

  • Represented a Class III switching and terminal railroad for general corporate and tax matters, including tunnel negotiations and labor relations
  • Representing the consortia of companies that have been selected by the Commonwealth of Virginia to do the final design and construction of the extension of the Washington regional transit system to Tysons Corner and Dulles International Airport. The project will seek to incorporate creative technology to take advantage of the fact that the rail is being constructed in the median of an existing toll facility. The project is being implemented under Virginia's innovative Public Private Transportation Act, under which the private consortium is developing the financial plan for implementation of the project
  • Venable represents concessionaires and other private entities in public-private partnerships to design, build, operate, maintain, and/or finance large transportation infrastructure projects throughout the country, including a major metropolitan area rail project that will add 25 miles to the current 106-mile Metrorail system
  • Representing a statewide transit administration in various issues concerning these multi-billion-dollar commuter rail projects and the related P3 contracting issues, with a focus on insurance, risk management, and environment
  • Served as chief negotiators and strategists for more than a decade for a major metropolitan area transit authority, including bus and rail transit operations, maintenance personnel, transit police, and office clericals
  • Represented a major refinery in the San Francisco Bay Area in the acquisition of CEQA and other approvals for an expansion of a rail yard and delivery of crude by rail
  • Represented a German company in connection with the acquisition and leasing of property in Georgia for a wood pellet production facility and related port facilities; this transaction also included advising the client with respect to the contracts for construction of these facilities and related rail transportation agreements
  • Advising Amtrak on construction of the concrete casing beneath the Hudson Yards development, which will preserve a right-of-way for a new rail tunnel, and in connection with the redevelopment of Moynihan Station and related matters