During this past week, Norfolk Southern issued a press release announcing the creation of an undertaking to promote technology to transform rail shipments in the 21st Century. The mission of the group, called Rail Pulse, is to promote safety and information available regarding freight shipments. Included will be the adoption of GPS and additional technology in the North American Rail Fleet.

The group includes owners of about one-fifth of the North American railcar fleet. Items to be targeted include hand brake and impact data, bearing temperature, and wheel impact detection as technology is developed and deployed over time. The press release indicates objectives include safety and “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 real-time track-level visibility, whether doors or hatches are open, whether the car is loaded or partially loaded, and other key performance metrics.” A positive development for the future of the industry.

Demand for Open – Top Hopper Cars

It is sometimes surprising to see the tremendous swings in demand for different types of railcars. At one time everyone wanted covered hoppers for frac sand service. Now that car type is plentiful. The same can be said about the demand for open-top hopper cars for ballast service; at one time the demand was huge and supply non-existent. Now that car type sits waiting for a user in some areas. Take advantage of the swing and upgrade or expand your fleet at times when it seems you don’t need to; it will pay dividends down the way.

Railcar Specialists

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