Norfolk Southern (NS) is implementing Wabtec’s Yard Planner technology at Norris Yard in Birmingham, Ala., “to improve our operational consistency and increase on-time delivery of freight to our customers,” the Class I railroad reported Nov. 28.
NS described the technology as using “computer-aided decision-making to reduce car switching, which allows cars to move and be assembled (classified) for outbound trains safer and more consistently.” Yard Planner, it said, also provides yardmasters “with car-level visibility to optimize movements throughout the terminal,” and “enables pre-planning moves hours in advance and incorporates safe train-build practices.”
Since starting Yard Planner implementation in early September, NS said it has seen improvements in the predictability of Norris Yard operations. The technology will be fully implemented at the yard early next year “with the introduction of computer-aided decision-making for outbound train assembly,” according to the railroad, which plans to bring the technology to another yard in first-quarter 2024. The goal is to use Yard Planner at all NS hump yards.
“In the future, Yard Planner will produce valuable real-time data for use by other platforms such as Movement Planner, a technology that provides optimal train routing through automated decision-making capability,” NS said.
“Norfolk Southern is the first Class I railroad to implement Yard Planner and we are already seeing greater consistency of car movement,” NS VP Transportation Joe Gioe said. “Most important, Yard Planner embeds safety and efficiency in our yards. We are excited about the long-term potential of this technology to support our customers.”
NS also uses Trainyard Tech LLC’s CLASSMASTER™ Process Control System technology. “Yard Planner sends the classification destination to Trainyard Tech’s platform,” NS told Railway Age. “In addition, we also have the classification track blocks (both assigning and releasing them) connected to Trainyard Tech’s system. When applied or released in CLASSMASTER™, the messages flow to Yard Planner to ensure alignment with those tracks that are available or not for classification.”