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Sidley is recognized worldwide for its representation of railroad industry and currently advises the most extensive group of U.S. railroad clients of any major law firm. The firm represents the nation’s largest railroads in transactions, regulatory proceedings, federal court litigation, and appellate proceedings in the U.S. Courts of Appeals. We also represent private equity firms, companies in the emerging U.S. high-speed passenger rail industry, equipment manufacturers, rail car companies, and logistics companies.

Rail Transactions: Sidley has extensive experience advising clients in connection with mergers and acquisitions. Our lawyers regularly represent railroads and other parties seeking regulatory approval to acquire rail assets, including stock and asset acquisitions, rail equipment leases, and bankruptcy proceedings.

Railroad Regulation and Regulatory Litigation: We have extensive experience in high-stakes regulatory litigation before federal agencies and in federal court. Before agencies like the Surface Transportation Board, we have successfully represented railroads in high-stakes rate reasonableness disputes, in service-related litigation with rail shippers, and in disputes with Amtrak or other freight railroads. In federal court we represent railroads in rulemaking challenges, challenges to agency action, and litigation raising complex regulatory issues. Over the last 30 years, our award-winning appellate lawyers have represented railroad interests more than 50 times before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Rail Preemption and Preclusion: Sidley regularly represents railroads in litigation involving federal preemption of state and local laws seeking to regulate rail transportation, including preemption cases involving the ICC Termination Act, the Federal Railroad Safety Act, the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act, the Locomotive Inspection Act, the Noise Control Act, the Signal Inspection Act, and the dormant Commerce Clause of the Constitution. We litigate preemption matters in a wide range of forums, from state trial courts to federal circuit courts of appeal and the U.S. Supreme Court.

High-Speed Passenger Rail: Sidley is counsel to all of the privately-developed high speed passenger railroad projects in the U.S. Our team has also been instrumental in strengthening U.S. legislative and regulatory changes which promote high speed rail sector investment, such as the American High-Speed Rail Act, which proposes a multi-million dollar infusion of federal funds to advance the nation’s high-speed rail infrastructure. Sidley Senior Counsel Terry Hynes was recently named to the Executive Committee of the U.S. High Speed Rail Coalition, an organization which fosters high-speed rail industry growth in America.

Recognition for the Practice

Our firm has received a “Band 1” ranking from Chambers USA for Transportation (Rail) every year since 2006, and we have been described as “true experts in the field of transportation law.” According to Chambers USA 2023, “Sidley Austin does a lot of the complex work and is one of the premier firms in the railroad space,” and “Sidley Austin is highly experienced in complex and sophisticated rail transactions.”