Tom Forbes, CEO of Biarri Rail, was interviewed by Joanna Marsh of FreightWaves, for her recent story “How can railroads and shippers use technology to bolster service and capacity?” The article notes that while much of the industry has been focused on the technological change associated with the implementation of PTC, the railroads also have near-term options for using technology to enable more efficient responses to rail service and capacity needs.

In the light of the extended downturn in freight volumes for the North American Class Is, it’s important that the railroads look to technology to counter this macroeconomic environment. Most are also in the midst of developing precision scheduled railroad (PSR) plans, which could reduce operating costs. But if the current depressed volumes continue, the railroads must develop more aggressive strategies to manage their assets to reduce operating costs and increase capacity without large capital expenditures.

In the article, Tom said that using technology to improve rail operations gives “me the ability to ask new questions that I didn’t even have time to consider because it just took me a long time to come up with any plan, let alone a very efficient plan. Technology can enable a more holistic approach to address capacity needs, by allowing a railroad to see where capacity demand rises or falls within a network so that the railroad can determine how best to deploy nearby assets – locomotives, rail yards and crews – to meet that capacity need. Technology can also help the railroads move more freight without spending huge amounts of money for new equipment or locomotives.”

Biarri Rail has had the opportunity to see the results of applying technology, including big data analysis and powerful algorithms, to the planning and operations of freight railroads. Kansas City Southern has deployed Biarri’s Boss Loco Planner to optimize locomotive planning, allocation and balancing. In another case, TasRail, of Tasmania Australia, has implemented the full suite of Boss Rail Planning for service design and the scheduling of the railroad. Boss includes tools for optimizing trains, blocks, locomotives, capacity, wagons, and crew rosters and schedules.

For more information on using technology to improve rail planning and operations, please contact Tom Forbes.

Photo by Jon Sailer on Unsplash