Working Hard to Better Serve Customers – The Signal – 5/10

Subject: Working Hard to Better Serve Customers – The Signal – 5/10

Freight Railroads Remain Committed to Serving Customers, Broader Economy

Freight railroads acknowledge that recent rail service has not been to the high standards they set for themselves. Railroads are actively taking steps to improve their service, including increasing communication and transparency with customers, hiring and repositioning crews to high-density corridors and partnering with other transportation modes to increase efficiency.

“The rail industry understands its critical role in serving the U.S. economy and is confident in its abilities to work alongside customers to remedy service issues moving forward,” said AAR CEO Ian Jefferies in a recent statement. “Railroads valued the chance to communicate their plans to the STB, customers and labor unions, and they will continue to update stakeholders on their progress.”

Expert Input: The Biden Administration’s Rail Regulation Efforts Make Little Sense

Against the backdrop of the supply chain challenges, policymakers are still considering measures that many believe will exacerbate the situation. Ike Brannon, senior fellow at the Jack Kemp Foundation and Michael Gorman, the Niehaus Endowed Chair in Operations and Analytics at the University of Dayton, analyzed how the STB’s proposed rule on forced switching fits this criterion. They also note that such market intervention is at odds with many of the Biden administration’s supply chain and environmental goals.

“The problem with reciprocal switching is that it effectively reduces the capacity of the rail networks,” writes Brannon and Gorman. “Switching trains is time and labor intensive and therefore costly. Requiring railroads to do so for competitors would impose more work in already congested networks, making it more difficult for the railroad doing the switch to optimize its train schedule.”

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Why Are Regulators Slow Rolling New Safety Tech?

The Washington Examiner news team looks at how the Federal Railroad Administration’s recent actions to slow or stop the use of automated track inspection technologies hurt rail safety efforts.

“The [Transportation Department] secretary said at a May congressional hearing, ‘If there’s even an ounce of efficiency to wring out of the system, now’s the time to capture it,'” said AAR AVP, Public Affairs Ted Greener. “Railroads agree, and automated track inspection not only helps with freight fluidity but improves safety — ostensibly the primary goal of the Federal Railroad Administration. Regulators should take a levelheaded and data-driven approach to expand the use of this technology.”

MxV Rail: 4 Advancements in Rail Tech

When the rail industry invests in developing technology, it pays off by improving safety, enhancing productivity and supporting environmental sustainability. Kari Gonzales, MxV Rail CEO, breaks down the latest technologies and research initiatives underway with MxV Rail:
  1. Improving Safety & Capacity with Positive Train Control (PTC): Rail is collaborating with stakeholders to develop advanced PTC systems that improve capacity while reducing human error.
  2. Novel Approaches to Track Inspections: MxV Rail’s research brings cutting-edge technologies and new applications from other industries to enhance rail safety.
  3. New Collaborations in Hyperloop Testing: The world’s second operational test track for Hyperloop testing is being built by SwissPod at MxV Rail’s new test facility.
  4. Reimagining Rail Service: MxV Rail is helping test Parallel Systems’ new battery-operated freight rail vehicles, which could help decarbonize freight movement.

GoRail’s New Grant Funding Hub

The 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law reauthorized the nation’s surface transportation programs for five years and made record public infrastructure investments. With GoRail’s new resource on federal rail grant programs, state, county and local leaders interested in pursuing projects in their communities can learn more about grants and keep up with the latest announcements.