Putting Technology to Work: How Freight Rail Delivers the 21st Century

Technology fuels America’s freight railroads, making a modern network capable of meeting today’s transportation challenges — and those of the future.

Integrated teams of data scientists, software developers and engineers develop and apply technology across every aspect of the nationwide freight rail network. Today’s trains are powered by 200-ton locomotives equipped with supercomputers capable of processing a billion data points per second to maximize operational and fuel efficiency. Smart sensors throughout the network assess the health of the nation’s rail infrastructure and equipment to ensure safe operations. Railroad experts at command centers analyze this data to develop real-time maintenance and operational recommendations that improve fluidity and productivity of the rail network.

Thanks to steady, substantial spending on infrastructure, equipment and technology — $25 billion annually, on average — America’s freight railroads move more freight more efficiently, safely and cleanly than ever before. Freight rail’s massive spending has produced meaningful results:

  • The mainline train accident rate has fallen 23% since 2008.
  • Railroads moved one ton of freight an average of 479 miles per gallon of fuel in 2017, double the average in 1980.
  • Rail traffic volume has increased 84% since 1981, with no significant increase in the size of the railroad network.

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