Each year, Railinc works in close coordination with the AAR's Railinc Committee and various AAR committees to identify programs that will ensure the highest value from industry investments. In 2022, Railinc is working on projects associated with the following three multi-year programs, as well as additional projects.

Asset Health Strategic Initiative (AHSI)

The multi-year, multi-phase AHSI program focuses on solving rail network challenges related to asset health with the targets of reducing mechanical service interruptions, improving inspection quality, and increasing yard and shop efficiency. The following projects are aligned with the 10-year AHSI roadmap and come under the guidance of the AAR's Asset Health Strategy Committee.

  • Car Repair Billing (CRB) Improvements — This project will help envision a standard process for exception handling in CRB to submit and respond to exceptions in a timely manner and reduce administrative overhead. It will develop a process that ensures that required mechanical defect reports are received for relevant CRB records so that defective groups of components can be more quickly identified.
  • Defect Detection – Hot Wheel Monitoring — This project will utilize wheel temperature detectors to help identify dragging breaks in a non-braking train. Railinc’s work, initiated in 2018, for wheel temperature detectors (to identify cold wheels in a braking train) will be leveraged to determine industry rules and thresholds for these equipment conditions. This information can help reduce the cost of wheel and brake shoe changes for car owners. 
  • Defect Detection – Equipment Health Management Committee Alert Closure Improvements — This project will identify and implement updated business rules to improve the alert closure process and the timeliness of data used to evaluate the alert state and ensure that equipment issues are properly addressed to increase safety.
  • Improve Visibility Through Equipment Identification Enhancements (AEI) – Phase 2 of 2 — This project will address AEI site issues identified in Phase 1 work, quarantine site data that is inconsistent and initiate work on identifying AEI RFID tag issues in a centralized Bad Tag Table. This work supports the site owner, increases the reliability of industry alerts and enhances the value of AEI to downstream processes. 
  • Equipment Failure Analysis (Value Expansion) — The Equipment Failure Analysis (Value Expansion) project will identify recurring equipment issues when cars in the fleet exceed fleet-level expected thresholds for repairs. It will build on the existing network data capability to more quickly identify trending patterns of component and equipment failures to increase safety and reliability.
  • Locomotive – Data and Defect Notification — This project will allow railroads to receive locomotive defect and status information in-house in advance of interchange for locomotive planning purposes. The goal of the project will be to increase locomotive utilization while reducing emails and phone calls.
  • Locomotive - Repository of Run-Through Agreements (Phase 1); Support HPH (Phase 2) —This project will provide a repository for run-through agreement terms that can be applied against foreign utilization of locomotives. Run-Through agreements are foundational to handling HPH and are on the HPH Roadmap; fuel, time, mileage, and other terms are addressed in these agreements.
  • Multi-Level Pool Billing (MLPB) Data Analysis and Reporting — The MLPB Data Analysis and Reporting project will develop audit reports of the MLPB DX data to identify billing issues and cost metrics to support management of fleet and vendor relations. This reduces administrative time and effort.
  • Paperless — Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)/Railroad Portal Enhancements — One-Time Movement Approvals (OTMA) — This project will address additional railroad/FRA communications to be prioritized in a workflow portal; some items to be prioritized may include additional OTMA workflows for freight equipment and the standardization of existing manual requests and approvals. A better managed process will support quicker approval from FRA, which will increase equipment utilization.
  • Regulatory Modernization — 215 Inspection Support/Support for Electronic Air Slips (Brakes I, III) 
    215 Inspection Support: This portion of the project will support data, analysis and development of priorities that progress regulatory modernization and include the use of technology to aid carmen with completion of effective inspections (e.g., remote inspection of equipment by carmen, computer aides that prioritize issues to be reviewed by carmen, and use of algorithms to automate repetitive tasks). Successful data-driven petitions for regulatory change can result in very large savings for the railroads. 
    Support for Electronic Air Slips (Brakes I, III): This portion of the project will provide data analysis and support for 24-hour, off-air, unlimited pick-ups / set-offs and brake slip mileage validation that supports regulatory efforts. Effective use of electronic inspection data can result in significant savings for local and interchange traffic through improved network and trip planning.
  • Component Tracking Conditional Approval Process Study — This study will support the task force in designing a standard Technical Committee Approval Process (TCAP) for tracking the onboarding of multiple manufactured components and parts. The 2022 work will define the need for a potential 2023 implementation. An improved approval process will reduce administrative time and effort while reducing the time to complete committee approval of components.
  • Damaged and Defective Car Tracking (DDCT) Movement Proof of Concept — The DDCT Movement POC measures the current performance of routing and cars arriving at destination. It will study methods (current and proposed) for car owners to initiate movement of their cars and ensure routing to destination, through DDCT.

Gateway Operations Services

The Gateway Operations Services program aims to help operations personnel better manage traffic conditions at major rail gateways, with current emphasis on Chicago. The program focuses on enabling the exchange of timely, accurate, and actionable information to support the Chicago Integrated Rail Operations Center (CIROC) and to facilitate proactive inter-carrier operations in the Chicago Terminal. Railinc will deliver the following Gateway Operations Services projects in 2022:

  • Chicago Planning Group (CPG) Technology Advancement Program (Clear Path™ System Upgrade) — This project will enhance network visibility and application performance by updating Chicago Clear Path to incorporate improvements in system infrastructure (e.g., message formats, architecture) being developed as part of additional Clear Path deployments and initiatives beyond Chicago.
  • Location Management Rail Industry GIS (RIGIS) Rail Network Enhancements — The Location Management RIGIS Rail Network Enhancements project will further development of the RIGIS rail network, including the implementation of advanced routing capabilities and continued data quality improvements. 

Positive Train Control

  • Positive Train Control (PTC) – Interoperable Lifecycle Management – Phase 4 — This project will build upon the PTC management modules that have been completed in Phases 1-3 that provide an end-to-end process to support the introduction and testing new PTC components. The 2022 ILM project will integrate requirements and test case modules for new configuration items in the ILM system.
  • Positive Train Control (PTC) - Fully Scalable Train Braking Simulation Environment (Pre-Trip Planning) – Phase 2 — This project will build upon the platform developed in Phase 1 and begin to host, execute, store and report on braking algorithm scenarios executed by TTCI. This will enable TTCI to improve efficiencies and expand the capabilities of the current PTC braking simulation application.
  • Positive Train Control (PTC) / ATO – Train Control Variability Analysis — The PTC/ATO – Train Control Variability Analysis project will initiate the development of tools to share data in support of advanced train control and automated train operation initiatives. Evaluating data such as locomotive status, equipment status, mechanical failures, and service interruptions could be used to perform variability analysis and help railroads identify and mitigate unexpected events during highly automated train operation.

In addition to the projects associated with multi-year programs, the Railinc Committee has also approved the following five projects for 2022:

  • AskRail Value Expansion — This project will further enable safety by ensuring that the AskRail application stays up to date with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) data files. The project will also provide more visibility to first responders by adding rail crossings and mile posts to the map and will separately improve usability for AskRail users and administrators.
  • Embargo Usability Improvements — This project will further improve and reduce operating costs of the AAR Embargo/OPSL Permit System by adding administrative tools for permits and embargos.
  • Review and Update Forward & Store Edits — The Review and Update Forward & Store Edits project will review and update EDI 404, 417 and 426 business rules and associated Forward & Store edits to align with current use and industry needs.
  • Forward & Store 8030 Upgrade — This project will update the Forward & Store system to be compliant with the EDI 8030 rail standard. 
  • Rate EDI Network (REN) 8010 EDI Upgrade — This project will update REN to be compliant with the EDI 8010 rail standard.