Will Rail Pulse, the new joint venture between Norfolk Southern, GATX Corporation, Genesee & Wyoming, Trinity Rail, and Watco, be a game-changer for the rail industry? If so, how?
Rail Pulse is the first effort post-PTC, which, by the way, has consumed Class I’s and Short Lines for nearly a decade and billions of capital. Not sure I would call it a game-changer, the initial group is not known for its innovative industry-leading technology. I mean, wasn’t it NS who “loaded the wrong software at the CR Split”?
In essence, I applaud the efforts as the rail industry is years behind the likes of Amazon where you can see the truck 4 stops away from your house. The industry has to improve to compete and maintain market share other than coal, grain, containers, and non-time-sensitive freight. Shippers and the consumer corporate structure has changed. Current management has grown up with on-demand delivery, sometimes same day or within 4 hours. Can you imagine a 30 something Logistics manager who wants to use rail: the weeks-long process to be a new customer, credit, schedules, capacity issues? I have had several potential shippers over the years come back to me and say “You want me to order a railcar 2-3 weeks in advance? Really? I pick up the phone and call a truck, and it is here in less than 24 hours!”
So, yes Rail Pulse is a start, but the Railroad industry has to step up about 10-fold!