Railroads, in spite of their energy, capital, and space efficiencies are significantly underutilized for moving freight and people over land.
Transforming that imbalance and its causes is key to our future.
OnTrackNorthAmerica is rallying the continent around a whole systems capitalization strategy for dramatically increasing rail utilization, reinvigorating the economy and environment, and demonstrating how large-scale, multi-stakeholder collaboration can address society’s biggest challenges.

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The Vision: Reinventing the Wheel

Michael Sussman on: Collaboration, Transportation, and Our Shared Future
Michael Sussman, President and Founder
Michael Sussman, President and Founder

In 1995, I began studying the infrastructure investment strategies of industry, government, and society. Since then my company, Strategic Rail Finance has coordinated financing for freight railroad projects in 35 U.S. states. In 2007 I founded OnTrackNorthAmerica, a non-profit transportation policy and planning organization, to share what I have learned for society’s benefit.

What caught my attention in 1995 was the declining use of freight railroads and trains in favor of freight highways and trucks – despite the inherent energy, capital, and space efficiencies of rail transport. I wondered: why do we continue to invest the lion’s share of public and private capital toward less efficiency rather than more efficiency?

So I founded OnTrackNorthAmerica to reverse the commercial, regulatory, and economic dynamics that cause the underutilization of railroads and many other inefficiencies in transportation and infrastructure.

While working in transport finance, I have witnessed the impact that the current model, based on competition, has had on efficiency and progress. Relying on competition as a regulatory principle for building and operating infrastructure systems is insufficient, outdated, and unsustainable. Ask 33 miners in Chile how they all survived 69 days trapped underground in 2010, and they will tell you how quickly they shifted from individualism to collectivism. It was the second day; right after several men ate three days of the entire crew’s rations. They learned, as we must learn, how to coordinate and collaborate. We have to share well to live well on this planet of limited resources.

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OnTrackNorthAmerica is leading these initiatives for increasing rail utilization and its contribution to doubling North America’s freight transportation performance and efficiency by 2025.

Making Rail Utilization a Continental Cause

OTNA is leading the public and its representatives to better understand and embrace policies, programs, and projects for rail development.

Introducing a Whole-System Capitalization Strategy

OTNA forwards whole-system strategies for capitalizing freight logistics and rail development. These approaches leverage limited public and private sector resources and render individual projects easier to fund.

Reinventing the Local Rail Service Network

OTNA is convening a collaborative process to enable private- and public-sector stakeholders to plan and build a more responsive local rail service network.

Optimizing Freight Transportation Land Use

OTNA promotes smart freight transportation land use strategies for maximizing freight transportation performance and efficiency, while reducing pollution and industrial sprawl.

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Transforming Transportation Planning

OTNA advises local, state, and regional planning organizations on our method for producing public-private sector transportation plans that get put into action, not put on the shelf.

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Building a Land Freight Modal Life-Cycle Cost Comparison

OTNA is developing a comprehensive set of metrics that enable full accounting of life-cycle costs by transport mode that includes environmental and land use impacts.

Convening Stakeholder ``IntelliConferences``

OTNA created IntelliConferences to facilitate more productive stakeholder gatherings. We have scheduled four IntelliConferences in 2015 to advance OTNA’s initiatives:

March 26 & 27, 2015
Making Rail Utilization a Continental Cause

June 25 & 26, 2015
Introducing a Whole-System Capitalization Strategy

September 24 & 25, 2015
Reinventing the Local Rail Service Network

December 10 & 11, 2015
Forwarding Whole System Thinking in Commerce and Public Policy

Creating a North American Rail Electrification and Transmission System

OTNA will convene stakeholders to chart the course of continental rail line electrification.

Forwarding Whole-System Thinking in Commerce and Public Policy

OTNA is providing new forums and methods for whole-system thinking and development. Our approaches serve legislators, agencies, advocacy groups, think tanks, businesses, and individuals; helping to improve coordination and collaboration within the transportation sector.


OnTrackNorthAmerica offers its services to legislators, agencies, organizations, businesses, and communities. Our absolute independence frees us to illuminate entrenched marketplace dynamics that maintain the status quo. With this intelligence in hand, clients can develop smarter plans, programs, and legislative approaches.

Our consulting work supports clients in creating breakthrough solutions, programs, and action plans. For many of our engagements we utilize our Transportation Action Planning process and E‑Naction Facilitation Method.
OnTrackNorthAmerica advises clients on convening dialogues that advance new thinking around critical issues and opportunities. We can act as advisor and/or co-convener.
Everyone appreciates well-facilitated discussions, meetings, and conferences. OnTrackNorthAmerica’s leading edge facilitation services support people in bridging differences, addressing concerns, and inventing new solutions.
OnTrackNorthAmerica’s research produces real value from our direct engagement with the marketplace. In addition to providing pragmatic intelligence, the research often results in a new network of relationships that can be engaged during future project phases.



Influenced the inclusion of freight rail in

H.R.115- the National Infrastructure Development Act


Conducted briefing for 55 congressional staff in U.S. Capitol Building


Co-wrote the Washington State Produce Railcar Pool Act enacted by legislature


OnTrackAmerica founded



Designated 501c3 by IRS


Convened industry and government summit in the U.S. Capitol Building


Assembled consulting team for advising on local, state, and regional planning


Expanded mission to include continent wide planning-OnTrackNorthAmerica



OnTrackNorthAmerica is a collaboration of many individuals from industry, academia, government, and community. We value their diverse interests and perspectives  in contributing to OnTrackNorthAmerica’s progress.

To meet our Advisory Board, Directors, Consulting Team, Endorsers, and Members Click here…

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