For one day only on May 7th, 2019, railroaders, researchers and technologists came from across the rail network to Capitol Hill to show how technology makes rail smarter, safer and more efficient.

It was BIG.

Who Participated

Participants Got Up Close & Personal with #RailTech

AskRail

Participants checked out the AskRail mobile app, which provides more than 25,000 first responders with immediate access to accurate, timely data about what types of hazardous materials a train is carrying so they can make informed decisions about how to respond to a rail emergency.

BNSF Railway

People tried their hand at BNSF’s drone flight simulator and learned how the company leverages the data collected by drones and artificial intelligence to create an even smarter and safer railroad.

Canadian National

CN offered an exploration of their new cutting-edge automated inspection technology portals, which use advanced digital imagery and machine learning to inspect trains in real time — as they travel at full speed — and identify rail cars that need repair.

Canadian Pacific

Specialized sensors beside rail lines and mounted on rail equipment are capturing terabytes of data every year. Attendees learned how CP is applying this data to inform predictive maintenance months — and even years — in advance, enhancing safety and customer service.

CSX

Participants test drove a locomotive using CSX’s PTC locomotive engineer training simulator and interacted with 3D models of rail facilities generated from drone imagery and LiDAR, a tool that uses lasers to make measurements.

Genesee & Wyoming

Defects in rail are not always visible to the human eye. G&W offered portable rail defect detector technology to give participants an ultrasonic view inside the rail to discern a healthy rail from one that needs maintenance.

Kansas City Southern

KCS’s simulator put attendees in the cab of a PTC-equipped locomotive where they experienced how the technology works to stop a train. KCS also showed how the railroad is leveraging PTC data through geospatial mapping technology to enhance rail operations.

Norfolk Southern

NS highlighted some of the tools they use at their state-of-the-art training facility. Participants developed proper rail welding techniques through virtual reality and performed a virtual inspection of a train’s air brake system using a new tool developed for train conductors and railcar mechanics.

Transportation Technology Center, Inc. (TTCI)

Every day, TTCI — the world’s leading rail research and testing facility — pushes the limits of the rail network and equipment moving across it. They showed their work in action and highlighted how they use dynamic testing and modeling to improve the longevity of bridges, health track and the safety of rail cars.

Union Pacific

Participants took a virtual ride in a HighRail truck, technology used to inspect railroad tracks to detect flaws and inform maintenance planning. UP also took people inside their computer-based training modules for locomotive engineers, allowing them to operate digital trains using actual locomotive controls.

The Panel Discussion Created Buzz

Listen to the Podcast

Read Our Recap Article

Along with virtual reality and simulators, hands-on demos and one-on-one conversations with rail employees, this year’s RailxTech on Capitol Hill offered a panel discussion moderated by Mobility Podcast’s Greg Rogers and Pete Gould. The discussion honed in on the rapid innovation occurring across the transportation sector, the societal and economic implications of this transformation and how policymakers can encourage innovation.

Robert D. Atkinson, President, Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) 

“As a society, we need to get over the techno panic and embrace automation.”

Jennifer Huddleston, Research Fellow, Mercatus Center 

“We’re on the verge of the biggest transportation renaissance that any of us have ever seen.”

Patrick Lortie, Partner & Global Rail Leader, Oliver Wyman 

“The freight rail industry is at a transformative point.”

James Ray, former Senior Advisor for Infrastructure, U.S. Department of Transportation 

“Over the next two years we need to drive forward the power of data.”

What is RailxTech?

Technology fuels America’s freight railroads, making a modern network that meets the transportation challenges of today and tomorrow. Thanks to steady spending on infrastructure, equipment and technology — $100 billion over the last four years alone — America’s freight railroads move more freight more efficiently, safely and cleanly than ever before.

What does this technology look like?

Integrated teams of data scientists, software developers and engineers developing and applying technology across every aspect of the freight rail network. Trains powered by 200-ton locomotives equipped with supercomputers that process billions of data points every second to maximize operational and fuel efficiency. Smart sensors that constantly monitor the health of rail infrastructure and equipment, collecting vast amounts of data that yield actionable insights to increase safety and efficiency.

To show this rail technology in action, The Association of American Railroads held its first ever RailxTech event on Capitol Hill May 15th, 2018. Multiple Class I railroads created a rail technology epicenter in the Rayburn Building on the House side where hundreds of policymakers and staff experienced freight rail technology first-hand and spoke one-on-one with the freight rail employees that use technology to enhance network safety and efficiency every day.

In 2019, we went bigger with more rail industry participation and more technologies. Eight railroads, TTCI and AskRail transformed the Kennedy Caucus Room in the Russell Senate Office Building into an interactive demonstration of how railroad technology drives safety and efficiency improvements.