RailPulse Moves Forward on Telematics Platform

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
RailPulse will provide a “neutral, open-architecture, industry-wide railcar telematics platform to make it easier to ship by rail and to track rail shipments across the North American rail network,” according to joint venture partners Norfolk Southern, GATX Corp., Genesee & Wyoming, TrinityRail and Watco.

RailPulse will provide a “neutral, open-architecture, industry-wide railcar telematics platform to make it easier to ship by rail and to track rail shipments across the North American rail network,” according to joint venture partners Norfolk Southern, GATX Corp., Genesee & Wyoming, TrinityRail and Watco.

The RailPulse℠ joint venture has selected Princeton Consultants to design its technology platform that “will facilitate and accelerate the adoption of telematics across the North American railcar fleet.”

RailPulse will provide a “neutral, open-architecture, industry-wide railcar telematics platform to make it easier to ship by rail and to track rail shipments across the North American rail network, all while ensuring the safety and security of proprietary car-owner data,” according to the joint venture, which was formed last fall by Norfolk Southern, GATX Corp., Genesee & Wyoming, TrinityRail and Watco. The partners are said to collectively own nearly 20% of the North American railcar fleet.

Initial design work started last month “with a survey of IoT and other vendor solutions, assisting in the development of use cases, platform design and standards setting,” Princeton Consultants reported March 8. It expects a full rollout of the RailPulse platform by year-end 2022.

Because the new venture’s first objective is safety, early phases of the platform “will foster hand brake and impact data, both of which could provide important safety data for the railroads, car owners and shippers alike,” the information technology and management-consulting firm explained. “Future telematics capabilities—such as onboard bearing temperature and wheel impact detection sensors—are envisioned as the technology evolves.”

The second objective is “to increase rail’s competitive position relative to other modes by improving visibility into the status, location and condition of individual railcars,” the firm added. “Telematics capabilities supported by the platform could include real-time track-level visibility, whether doors or hatches are open, whether the car is loaded or partially loaded, and other key performance metrics.”

Norfolk Southern, along with our RailPulse partners, is excited to be working with Princeton Consultants on the design of the new platform,” the Class I railroad said in a statement to Railway Age. “This strategic initiative to ultimately drive telematics on to every North American railcar is critical for promoting safety, accelerating growth and making the rail product more compelling for our customers.”

“We are honored that RailPulse selected our firm to develop this trailblazing system,” Princeton Consultants Founder and CEO Steve Sashihara said. “We are fully committed to ensuring that RailPulse leverages the best current and emerging technologies to benefit all rail shipping stakeholders.”

In related developments, TrinityRail launched Trinsight railcar tracking last month as a “complement to the RailPulse joint venture.

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