How Did Railroad Technology Improve Profits For Companies?

September 11, 2023
David Sunnyside

When the word “railway” brings to mind images of steam locomotives and crews wielding pickaxes, America’s oldest industry is actually a leader on using technology. Today, railroads generate modest profits but invest 40 cents out of every revenue dollar into their networks. This investment allows them to serve the economy by transporting goods and services efficiently, safely and economically.

Technology also improves profit margins by reducing the cost of operations. For example, diesel locomotives require less maintenance than steam engines, so railroads are able to reduce staff in mechanical departments. And railcar-level visibility technologies are helping owners prioritize and schedule repairs, allowing them to save money by avoiding unnecessary replacements.

The railroad industry also innovates to keep people safe and protect the environment. For example, telematics help prevent accidents by tracking train locations and providing data that can help drivers avoid occupied crossings. In addition, railroads partner with companies like Waze to alert motorists to upcoming railway crossings. The industry also works with first responders to ensure they have immediate access to vital information on rail cars and their contents in an emergency.

And in rail yards, digitized technology is used to lower fuel consumption and emissions, and speed truck entry into railcars. The X-gate system, for instance, uses cameras to boost security and assess damage at the same time. CSX’s YardLink system, on the other hand, uses GPS to automatically pre-plan truck flows into intermodal terminals and reduce wait times for trucks from about two minutes to 30 seconds.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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