Norfolk Southern Railway is ready to begin implementing software network-wide that promises to boost average train speed by 2 to 4 mph and increase efficiency. Today, NS announced plans to install GE Transportation’s RailEdge® Movement Planner software across its network by about mid-2012.
RailEdge Movement Planner is designed to boost railroad capacity and reliability, and reduce costs. The software, which integrates railroad logistics with traffic control systems, can project expected track usage based on train schedules, then develop an optimal plan to ensure trains move faster and more efficiently, according to GE.
RailEdge is designed to maximize railroad resources by improving crew management and increase average network velocity by 10 percent to 20 percent. The software is installed “on top of” existing dispatching and traffic control systems, said GE Transportation President and Chief Executive Officer Lorenzo Simonelli, and NS Chairman, President and CEO Wick Moorman during a joint interview this morning.
NS helped develop RailEdge — which is like “an air traffic control system on steroids” — by assisting GE in understanding rail’s operating side, said Simonelli. GE plans to market the software to other North American railroads, including passenger roads, regionals and short lines, he said. In addition, the company will offer RailEdge to international railroads, including those in Europe and Southeast Asia that manage heavy hauls, said Simonelli.
NS already has implemented RailEdge on a 200-mile line in Georgia during the past six months. Moorman initially was skeptical about movement planner software, but NS “really is seeing gains in network velocity and average train speed” from the Georgia application, he said. Trains speeds have risen 2 to 4 mph and the territory’s velocity has increased 10 percent to 20 percent, said Moorman.
NS plans to implement RailEdge on a periodic basis — about every three to six months — as the railroad installs a new GE-supplied core dispatching system, the Unified Train Control System, in six of its 11 divisions; five divisions already have the new computer-aided dispatching system in place. The Class I next will install the software in the Central Division’s CNO&TP territory in Tennessee within the next three months.
NS has found a one-mile-per-hour increase in train speed potentially can save about $200 million annually in capital and expenses, said Moorman, adding that RailEdge will help boost efficiency and cut costs in areas with heavy train traffic.
“It pays off where you have a lot of trains,” he said.
RailEdge will help increase rail capacity worldwide “without laying a single new track,” said Simonelli.
— Jeff Stagl
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