The rail industry is working hard to implement a number of new technologies that will improve operations and competitiveness. A recent article by Forbes contributor Steve Banker states that rail freight market share has slipped somewhat over faster, more reliable modes of transportation, such as truckload and parcel services. Although moving freight via rail is a relatively low-cost mode of transportation, it is slow by comparison. According to September 2017 statistics of several Class I railroads in North America, the railroads’ speeds averaged about 25 miles per hour. In order to compete, railroads are turning to new technologies in order to provide their customers with better, faster, safer service, and to boost market share.
Initiatives like Positive Train Control (PTC), although legally mandated, will improve safety and increase throughput. Another initiative, Digital Rail Services, launched by tech giant Siemens in Atlanta, Georgia, will create what it calls the “Internet of Trains”. This cloud-based industrial data analytics platform will be able to monitor traffic, identify problems and implement remote diagnostics by collecting and analyzing billions of points of data and turning them into action.
Although such advancements and investments in big tech and big data are good news for the rail industry, they will eventually translate to shipping costs. While increased efficiency in freight movement is welcome, there will still be a need to confirm the billing that follows. AMTR auditors know that change of any kind often generates billing issues—many of which are unexpected and certainly not captured in computer-based audit algorithms. In these cases, there is simply no substitute for human interpretation and intelligence. No matter what the changes, the transportation experts at AMTR stand ready to ensure clients’ freight costs are not adversely impacted.