Not so many years ago, citing examples of innovative technology adoption by railroads was a challenging exercise. Today, it’s difficult to identify a single aspect of the railroad enterprise that isn’t applying advanced technology solutions to improve performance.
From safety to asset efficiency to customer service, the foundations of success in the railroad industry are increasingly supported by a wide range of technology solutions. The most-visible example of rail technology investment over the past decade has been positive train control — a multi-billion-dollar system of interoperable technologies that prevent certain types of train accidents. But while PTC has grabbed the headlines, railroads have been consistently introducing new technology applications. These new technologies range from hardware-based, such as more fuelefficient locomotives and intermodal terminal equipment, to software-based, such as mobile data entry in rail yards and enterprise data discovery that supports improved business decisions.
Two recent technology projects at CSX provide examples of the range of solutions that are adding value to railroad operations. One is the company’s Train Inspection Portal, recently installed outside of Waycross, Ga., to conduct equipment inspections on moving trains with improved safety and efficiency. Another is CSX’s new Trip Plan Performance tool, which is providing customers with unprecedented transparency into the movement of their shipments across the railroad.
Train Inspection Portal
The Train Inspection Portal is an example of a technology that combines sensor and software advances in an innovative solution that impacts safety, efficiency and even operating performance. Traditionally, train inspections are performed by carmen who walk along either side of inbound and outbound trains, making sure safety appliances are in good condition and looking for defects such as excessive wheel wear.