COVID-19 Q&A With Railinc President & CEO Allen West

As the industry’s centralized provider of interoperable rail data, Railinc is an essential partner to the industry in keeping trains moving efficiently and safely through rail corridors across North America. The company, a subsidiary of the Association of American Railroads, was purpose-built by the industry to tackle big challenges with the power of data. Railinc manages 11 million daily messages among more than 570 rail carriers. Given its significance, Railway Age reached out to talk to Railinc chief executive Allen West to get a sense of how the North Carolina company is handling the COVID-19 situation.

Big Data, Optimized Processes, Analytics

RAILWAY AGE, FEBRUARY 2020 ISSUE: Effective use of new tools can improve railcar management, utilization and profitability. Rail equipment owners and lessors—key users of railcar data—manage their fleets in a dynamic environment that fluctuates with changing market demands, railroad operating priorities and real-world conditions. Relying on knowledge, experience and diligence, industry fleet managers keep things moving safely, reliably and efficiently.

AHSI: Big Data For Better Asset Health

The railroad industry estimates that advances in fault detection technology are preventing more than 700 road failures monthly on the North American system, based on 2019 preliminary statistics. Among the efforts to identify the causes of failure and further understand issues that affect freight rail performance and safety is the Association of American Railroads Asset Health Strategic Initiative (AHSI), data from which is shared with Railinc.

Rolling Asset Health

Railway Age, June 2019 Issue, Combining Big Data Analytics With Remote Monitoring: Advancing safe and efficient rail operations continues to be a primary focus of North American freight railroad operations. What is particularly exciting right now is that the data available to railroads, both in its detail and volume, enables them to manage their operations in ways that were not possible before.

Rolling with Big Data

The emerging role of Data Science, commonly known as “Big Data” in railroad maintenance, was discussed earlier in Railway Age (“Better Railroading Through Big Data.”) As noted, railroads are developing and implementing new generations of sophisticated inspection and monitoring systems, and as a result are finding themselves collecting large volumes of data.