Every time carloads decline in the year-over-year measurements, doom is spelled for the rail freight industry as a whole, casting doubt on its reliability and efficiency of rail as a means of freight transport. As rail freight volumes recover from the decline in 2016, it’s time for the rail industry to tackle their vulnerability to supply and demand. Just 8 months ago, Business Insider was reporting on the “collapse” of freight rail, and the numbers they were using made a good case:
Total US freight rail traffic from carloads and intermodal was down 6.1% the first week of October when compared to the first week in 2017. (This was seen as part of a larger recessive trend created by similar declines in September of the same year.) Carloads were down 10.4%; Intermodal was down 3.3%
Such statistics should worry analysts and investors, and yet the same article said that investors are continuing to purchase rail stocks. What is this really telling us? While fluctuating economies seem to shake shippers’ trust in freight rail to meet their business needs, economists hold strong in their faith in rail as robust, profitable business. The industry needs to relay the same strength and adaptability to its main customers. It needs to make shippers aware that shipping freight by rail can be efficient and reliable in any kind of economy.
Because it turns out, in the long-term, the analysts were right. More recent numbers show that freight rail has seen significant growth in 2017. Total traffic from carloads and intermodal was up 4.6% in the week of May 6 when compared to the same week in 2016. The very worrisome coal shipments are now up 17.7%. 
This flip-flop of rail freight is nothing new to industry veterans, but it’s time to get ahead of the curve. The rail industry must launch a new image of itself that proves to reporters, commentators, and ultimately customers that rail remains a strong, safe, and efficient way of transporting goods.
Other industries have achieved this with tremendous success is by accessing information on their assets and operations to provide customers the ability to make informed decisions. The airline industry for example makes connecting flight information available across airlines. This helps customers meet their connections even with delays, as flights wait for incoming passengers that have a known delay within reason. This information increases satisfaction across the airline industry even as they cut costs on baggage fees and in-flight concessions.
Rail can achieve the same loyalty and retention by providing shippers with similar information that can help them meet their deadlines and targets – even while the trucking industry provides cheaper options and spot rates.
To find out more about accessing data from your assets and where to use that information to build a loyal customer base, just download our white paper: Connecting Rail Customers and Assets.
Did you find this useful? If you’d like to receive our future posts right to your inbox, just sign-up for your newsletter below:
BSM Technologies – A leading player in the M2M industry for 20 years, BSM continues to grow and has proven its sustainability in the GPS asset tracking and telematics industry. Our location-smart platform is ideal for managing the health and compliance of assets vital to your organization. Covering a wide range of industries from construction and rail to tanks and even HOS, BSM is your committed partner in assisting with all your fleet management solutions.
Today, our solutions are used to optimize and manage over 70,000 assets across 40 countries by some of the largest rail, construction, and commercial fleet organizations in the world. Experience our enterprise-focused solutions, robust capabilities, and customer-oriented culture.
We Think You Might Like This:
Smart cities—or the idea of converting your city to a smart city—is gaining in popularity around the world. It seems everywhere we look, cities are strategizing ways to incorporate smart city technologies and pilot programs. This week we’re joined by Chris Jackson,...read more
When an organization announces something new and exciting just as we’ve done with BSM Illuminate, it’s easy to let the future and all it has in store for our customers and the industry to overshadow the foundation of an organization. That’s why we’re taking a moment...read more
With a variety of plug-and-play hardware options, how can you ensure that you’re choosing the right one for your fleet? This week we’re focusing on some of the features you should look for when evaluating telematics hardware solutions. On-Board Diagnostics (OBD)...read more
Request a Free Demo
Our dedicated solution advisors will contact you within 2 business days.