Dallas-based Trinity Industries, Inc. (NYSE: TRN) has announced plans to enter into a joint venture with Norfolk Southern, GATX Corporation, and two major short-line railroad players, Genesee & Wyoming and Watco, to create a coalition to accelerate rail modal transformation using GPS technology and other telematics across the North American railcar fleet.
The new venture, called RailPulse, will develop new standards and systems infrastructure to support the industry with real-time data on location of railcars for shippers, rail car owners and railroads in North America. . The real-time information would target each railcar status, location, and condition of rail equipment and the commodities being transported.
“While this coalition is in the early stages of development, we believe these efforts will be a key factor in improving the rail industry’s competitive position,” said Trinity CEO and President, Jean Savage. “We’ve been leveraging artificial intelligence to develop actionable analytics and infrastructure to support the addition of telematics on railcars for nearly two years, and testing the reliability of certain analytics on our own fleet of leased railcars. We believe partnering with other leading rail service providers will accelerate widespread adoption of these technologies across the North American railcar fleet and transform rail shipping in the future.”
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, through its Department of Transportation (PennDOT), recently received a Fiscal Year 2020 Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the project. The Commonwealth, along with the rail partners that collectively own 20% of the North American railcar fleet, will provide an additional modest investment.
A full rollout of the RailPulse platform to North American rail shippers is expected by the end of 2022.
“In working with our customers, we have heard consistent feedback that they need greater rail network visibility in order to move more of their freight volume to the railroad,” said Gregg Mitchell, Trinity’s Chief Commercial Officer. “This new platform will empower industry participants, like Trinity, to deliver real-time insights to shippers and other railcar users for better fleet, inventory, and supply chain management. Ultimately, we expect these insights will provide improved satisfaction to shippers and their customers.”