Louis T. Cerny graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana, Illinois with a BSCE in 1964 and MS in 1965. Many of his graduate courses were taught by W. W. Hay, author of the textbook "Railroad Engineering," and considered the nation's leading academic in the railway field at that time. During the summers of his undergraduate years, Mr. Cerny worked for the Illinois Department of Highways assisting engineers in a wide variety of work including the construction of a large highway-railway intersection project in Cicero, Illinois.
In 1965 Mr. Cerny went to work for the Elgin, Joliet, and Eastern Railway (EJ&E), which at that time was a railroad with approximately 3500 employees. He advanced through various engineering and supervisory positions, with duties including track and bridge design and track maintenance supervision, with his final position being in charge of all track forces on one division, consisting of over 200 employees. His design work included a 70 foot long steel bridge structure and foundation which was completed in January 1966, and detailed rating of many bridges. In the 1970's, he designed and supervised construction of a $3 million dollar project consisting of a new yard and other track revisions for a new Basic Oxygen Furnace at Gary, Indiana. He is a co-recipient of a U.S. patent for a system for controlling car speeds in classification yards.
In 1975, Mr. Cerny took the position of Vice President - Chief Engineer of the Columbus and Greenville Railway, a 168 mile line in Mississippi. Despite main line rail as light as 60 lb. and poor ballast, tie, and bridge conditions, reliable service to customers was provided in the two years prior to a $4 million federally funded rehabilitation program which Mr. Cerny handled from concept to construction. In 1978, he became Vice President Operations of the Eire Western Railway, a 186 mile line in Indiana.
Mr. Cerny concurrently became Executive Director of the American Railway Engineering Association (AREA, now known as AREMA) and Executive Director of the Association of American Railroads (AAR) Engineering Division in 1979.
As AREA Executive Director from 1979 through 1994, he was in charge of the day-to-day operations of the 3800-member AREA, which involved railway engineering matters throughout the North American network of Canada, Mexico, and the United States, including development of recommended practices for the AREA Manual of Railway Engineering and Portfolio of Trackwork Plans.
In has job as Executive Director of the Engineering Division of the AAR, he was responsible from 1979 to 1997 for the railway industry's liaison with the Federal regulatory agencies regarding track and bridge matters, and was the lead industry negotiator for the two major revisions that have been made to the Federal Track Safety Standards since their inception. The first revision went into effect November 1, 1982 and the second September 21, 1998. He was also the lead industry negotiator and worked with railroad unions to develop federal regulations on track worker lodging and bridge worker safety. He has averaged over 5000 miles per year of track inspection, giving him exceptional familiarity with the North American railway network.
Mr. Cerny retired from the AAR in 1997 and established a private consulting practice, which has included track or bridge work for most major U.S. railroads, the AAR, law firms, several short lines, and foreign railroads. He continues to have articles published in the "Railway Track and Structures" trade magazine. His consulting work in 2008-9 includes design of new lines and evaluation of existing lines (both track and bridges) in foreign countries, as well as representing the U.S. railroad industry on revisions to the Federal Track Safety Standards. He is a voting member of several Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Rail Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) groups, including track, concrete ties, and rail integrity.
Mr. Cerny was a member of AREA Committee 9 from 1967 to 1979, holding the offices of Secretary, Vice Chairman, and finally Chairman. He was a member of the Transportation Research Board Committee on Guided Inter-City Passenger Transportation. He was delegation leader in both 1983 and 1984 of railway engineering delegations from North America to China, and in 1985 gave lectures there at the invitation of that nation. In 1986 and 1987, he was President of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association Materials and Service Division. He has been listed each year since 1986 in Who's Who in America.
Mr. Cerny is a registered Professional Engineer in Illinois and Mississippi. He is author of numerous technical articles in trade magazines and technical bulletins, and has made presentations at many technical meetings. His inspection and study of current railway construction and maintenance continues, including inspections in the United States and inspection of major projects in China and South America, and he has professional experience regarding high-speed lines including the Maglev in China and TGV in France.