Railroad shipping/logistics technology: NS, GE partner up for rail IT innovation

Citing increased train speeds and productivity as its main drivers, a new IT application from GE Transportation, in conjunction with Norfolk Southern, vows to increase the average network speed of trains significantly.

By ·

Citing increased train speeds and productivity as its main drivers, a new IT application from GE Transportation, in conjunction with Norfolk Southern, vows to increase the average network speed of trains significantly.

With this new software, entitled GE’s RailEdge Movement Planner, GE officials said it has the ability to increase the average network speeds of trains by 10-20 percent or two-to-four miles per hour. Company officials explained that one mile per hour in velocity improvements can save about $200 million annually in capital and expenses.

The strategic relationship between GE and NS goes back decades, with roughly 70 percent of current NS locomotives manufactured by GE, according to GE spokesman Stephan Koller.

How It Works Video


In an interview with LM, Koller explained that the need for this software is largely based on projected estimates that freight railroad volumes will double in the coming years. While it is not feasible to simply double the amount of tracking to meet that need, more needs to be done with the existing rail infrastructure.

“An innovative rail IT solution allows you to move more freight faster on an existing railroad infrastructure without laying any new track,” he said. “Norfolk Southern’s network is 21,000 route miles and runs roughly 2,500 locomotives per day. This [software] serves as a type of air traffic control system for the rails. We have been working on this with NS for about four years.”

Koller said that he expects NS to implement this software for all NS trains by the end of 2012. NS used the software on a 200-mile section of its railroad in Georgia, and Norfolk Southern is expanding the technology’s use to its entire 22-state rail network through 2012, according to company officials. In Georgia, this software has helped NS increase the average network speed train velocity of its trains by 10-20 percent, representing a significant opportunity for cost savings and train delay reductions.
In terms of how GE’s RailEdge Movement Planner functions, it integrates railroad logistics with traffic control systems and projects expected track usage based on train schedules, according to GE. It then produces an optimized plan for trains to move faster and more efficiently, as well as improve railroad crew management availability by maximizing existing railroad resources.

Benefits shippers can expect from this software include faster transit times, with train delays being cut by about half, said Koller. He also noted that GE is “in active discussions” with other railroads—both freight and passenger—in North America and international markets, regarding this software.

“With railroads, it’s about scale,” said Wick Moorman, CEO of Norfolk Southern, in a statement. “GE’s RailEdge supports incremental routing and speed improvements down to the individual train level. That will add up to sizeable efficiency gains on a 2,500-train per day, 21,000-route mile system like ours. When we make the best use of our existing transportation infrastructure, that’s a competitive advantage for our customers and for the country.”

 


About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Article Topics

· All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
Reduce Order Processing Costs by 80%
Sales order automation software will seamlessly transform inbound emailed and printed purchase orders into electronic sales orders that can be automatically processed into your ERP system with 100% accuracy.
Download Today!
From the June 2016 Issue
In the wildly unstable ocean cargo carrier arena, three major consortia are fighting for market share, with some players simply hanging on for survival. Meanwhile, shippers may expect deployment shifts as a consequence of the Panama Canal expansion.
WMS Update: What do we need to run a WMS?
Supply Chain Software Convergence: Synchronization Realized
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Optimizing Global Transportation: How NVOCCs Can Use Technology to Operate More Profitably
Global transportation isn't getting any easier to manage, especially for non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCCs). Faced with uncertainties like surcharges—but needing to remain competitive when bidding against other providers—NVOCCs need the right mix of historical data, data intelligence, and technology support to make quick and effective decisions. During this webcast you'll learn how Bolloré Transport & Logistics was able to streamline its global logistics and automate contract management.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Details Key to Cross-border Ease
Ever-changing regulations are making it risky for U.S. companies engaged in cross-border trade...
Digital Reality Check
Just how close are we to the ideal digital supply network? Not as close as we might like to think....

Top 25 ports: West Coast continues to dominate
The Panama Canal expansion is set for late June and may soon be attracting more inbound vessel calls...
Port of Oakland launches smart phone apps for harbor truckers
Innovation uses Bluetooth, GPS to measure how long drivers wait for cargo