Rails and Coming Truck Technology - Some Thoughts

June 17, 2018


I have been thinking about AV (and EV) trucks, the driver shortage (currently and historically), “Silver Bullets” – and their possible impact on the rail/intermodal story for some time.  There are as many opinions out there as there are well-funded start-ups or glowing press coverage (in other words – a lot)….Given all of this, I resolved to “get to the bottom” of the issue, and, as I should have suspected, came up short.  Clearly the rails need to improve their service NOW to take advantage of the ELD-driven modal opportunity presented – but also to create future opportunities with shippers (and governments – and to head off threats like TSW – bigger trucks).  The rails have, given the right circumstances (density, etc) three main advantages coming from being self-financed and steel-rail based:  Fuel, Labor, and the Network.  They need to act now to minimize the deterioration in advantages #1 & #2 while maintaining their (growing?) infrastructure advantage.  Herewith, in the form of a slide deck, some of my thoughts.  Yours would, as always, be appreciated….

Anthony B. Hatch 
abh consulting