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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Rail industry suppliers stay the R&D course despite economic woes, RSI says


Rail industry suppliers continue to test and deploy new products even in the face of a recession, according to a recent survey conducted by the Railway Supply Institute (RSI).

Nearly half of the 28 respondents said a majority of their research and development efforts are driven by customers’ requests, and 10 characterized themselves as “big spenders” on R&D because they invest more than $1 million annually on new technologies. Five of the respondents said they spend more than $5 million annually on R&D.

Despite the recession, only two respondents said they reduced their R&D spending during the past five years, and 11 said they are increasing their spending.

“While positive train control garners most of the headlines, innovations in information technology, energy conservation and refinements in equipment are steadily making rail operations more efficient and effective,” said RSI Executive Director Tom Simpson in a prepared statement. “We see progress in electronically-controlled pneumatic brakes, computerized camera inspection systems, fuel efficiency technologies, and better materials, coatings and monitoring devices, and improved valves and fittings for tank cars transporting hazardous and toxic materials.”

RSI conducted the survey in February. The 28 respondents identified themselves as locomotive, freight-car or passenger-car builders; component suppliers; communications and signaling sector suppliers; or maintenance-of-way sector suppliers.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/19/2010