The CRSA can trace its history back to the early 1940’s. It is the longest running and largest association of its kind in the United States. In an effort to bring greater harmony to diverse railroad operations in Chicago, superintendents came together to move people and freight in a more effective and expedited manner.
In the beginning, the CRSA was staffed by Superintendents who volunteered their time and efforts to maintain a successful association. As the organization grew, officers were elected to oversee the inner workings of the organization.
Due to the great diversity of operations in Chicago, there was a real need for mutual assistance between these highly competitive operations. The CRSA was an essential part of resolving differences and maintaining operational continuity during periods of diminished resources and poorly maintained infrastructure. This effort was woven into the CRSA’s early charter and served the community very well over the years.
Vendors who served the railroad industry were very supportive of the needs of railroad operations and strived to maintain strong ties with Superintendent level managers who sought re-railing services frequently. The CRSA was unique in its inclusion of railroad vendors in the association. This allowed development of positive relationships that helped maintain fluid operational performance. It also served as an opportunity to meet and form strong relationships with one’s competitor without diminishing competitive positions.
The Foundation of CRSA
During the era of mergers, many railroad operations were consolidated and streamlined. Personnel was reduced and duties were redesigned. The consolidations of many of the properties resulted in corporate or centralized management of many aspects of the operation that were in the domain of the Superintendent.
Due to consolidations, many of the duties Superintendents carried out were handled at the corporate level. This caused the Superintendent to focus on operations primarily and no longer on the many ancillary duties such as sales, car hire, mechanical repairs and maintenance and capital improvements and maintenance of the right of way.
A Changing Mission
The CRSA’s mission also changed and transformed into a service association focusing on the needs of members to build relationships and strong resources with the members while still serving the social efforts of the membership that had been an important ingredient of the association’s success.
In 2015, CRSA became incorporated in the State of Illinois and gained it’s 501(c) status. This granted the CRSA full legal status to ensure all the benefits and protections offered under the law.
Where We Are Today
Over the years, many railroad managers and vendors donated their time and services to ensure the CRSA was a strong and vibrant association that continues to this day, to meet the needs of the railroad managers and vendors serving the Chicago Railroad community.
Change is constant and the CRSA has and will continue to change with the times to serve the needs of managers and vendors who strive to keep the railroad operations in the Chicago Metropolitan Area fluid, efficient and on-time for the entire metropolitan community.