For Railroads, 2020 Weirdness Has Accelerated Everything

Hunker-Down.

It’s what business usually does when uncertainty strikes. With no shortage of uncertainty this year, it’s also what the rail industry did – at first.

But then in the last 4 months of 2020, the acceleration of change has begun to grow. We hear it from our customers and prospects planning for 2021. We see it in our employees and projects. The appetite for meaningful change is now fronted by questions like:

  1. What aren’t we doing?
  2. Can we do this better?
  3. Why have we always done it this way?
  4. What if these were connected?
  5. What aren’t we seeing?

Never has the collective railroad cage been rattled so hard as it has been in 2020.

2020 has accelerated change in the railroad industryPower-Up.

How does the railroad industry improve what it does? History is very clear on the fact that simplified, and automated improvement always wins the future. Always.

What is exciting for PST is the new norm of intelligently integrating data and turning it into knowledge. Play buzz-word bingo and call it what you will, railroad artificial intelligence, analytical analysis, railroad business intelligence, predictive analytics, it doesn’t matter.

What does matter is highlighted with a statement by current FRA Administrator, Ron Batory, during his address to the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) 2020 national on-line convention. Paraphrased, it goes something like this, “I don’t care about all the improvements that enhance operating ratio and make business better. What I care about is: does it make railroading safer?”

The railroads that PST talk to WANT to integrate qualification management, crew scheduling, and drug & alcohol management to make their railroads much safer and more productive. Throw in the new Precision Train Builder abilities which leverage gains from PTC implementations and now railroads can be safer than ever before.

And, that’s good for business. But it’s even better for people working in the railroad and the communities they serve.

Of course, there are other eventualities that are being accelerated too. But they all tie back to improved transportation, supply chain operations and the people that work in those fields. Railroads are at the heart of this acceleration. It’s a great place to be.

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