What technology initiatives would provide the greatest impact for your business? (Tony Hatch)

Abhbw 2010

I would wish for a bigger (or more obvious) push on customer-facing technology.

The rails have actually done a good job of late on expense-related tech and improving inspections, MoW, etc (think of CN’s car inspection portals). They are also, one supposes, making headway on crew-reductions with the onset of PTC (as part of the ongoing labor negotiations).  All of this helps the rails’ marketing departments, too – more reliable service is better service; lower-costing service is a more competitive service, etc.  But they need to jump-start “ease of doing business” tech, and visibility.

We often hear, say from buy-side investors who follow all transports, “why can't the rails be more like UPS/FDX/XPO” in terms of package-tracing (given that their packages are the size of rail)?  Well, of course, those are closed-loop offerings, and rails are a continent-wide network, so a solution is as much political – or diplomatic – as they are technical. (Requiring agreements between carriers big and small to solve interline issues).