NORFOLK, Va., Oct. 21, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Today Norfolk Southern (NYSE: NSC), GATX Corporation, Genesee & Wyoming, TrinityRail, and Watco announced a venture to create a new technology platform that will help transform rail shipping in the 21 century. The new venture, Rail Pulse, will facilitate and accelerate the adoption of GPS and other telematics technology across the North American railcar fleet.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided leadership in a successful Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements grant application. In addition to this Federal Railroad Administration funding, investments will be made by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the venture members to support the development of this platform.
The Rail Pulse partners, who collectively own nearly 20% of the North American railcar fleet, are seeking to accelerate the adoption of telematics to meet two specifc objectives. The first objective of Rail Pulse is safety. Early phases of the platform will incorporate hand brake and impact data, both of which could provide important safety data for the railroads, car owners, and shippers alike. Future telematics capabilities – such as onboard bearing temperature and wheel impact detection sensors – are envisioned as the technology evolves.
The second objective is to increase rail’s competitive position relative to other modes by improving visibility into the status, location, and condition of individual railcars, which will meaningfully contribute to rail industry growth. Telematics capabilities will include data capture to support realtime track-level visibility, whether doors or hatches are open, whether the car is loaded or partially loaded, and other key performance metrics.
The companies behind Rail Pulse are launching this venture for the benefit of the entire rail ecosystem: shippers, Class I railroads, short lines, regional railroads, switching carriers and railcar operating lessors. Rail Pulse intends to provide a neutral, open-architecture, industry-wide railcar telematics platform to make it easier to ship by rail and to track rail shipments across the North American rail network, all while ensuring the safety and security of proprietary car-owner data.
“Rail Pulse is another example of how the freight rail industry is using advanced technology to enhance safety and service to shippers,” said Jennie Granger, PennDOT Deputy Secretary for Multimodal Transportation. “PennDOT is proud of the strong partnership we have with the freight rail industry, and we look forward to this platform being implemented throughout the North American railcar fleet.”
The partners will begin development of the platform later this year, with a full-service platform targeted for availability to the North American railcar industry by the end of 2022.
The partners extend their gratitude to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao and FRA Administrator Ronald Batory for their leadership in making this CRISI grant a reality for Rail Pulse. The partners also extend their gratitude to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for its sponsorship in this endeavor.