Solano County, CA — In a letter to the editor of the The Reporter, District 3 Supervisor and Metropolitan Transportation Commissioner Jim Spering writes that freight railroads are often overlooked in transportation technology discussions despite their commitment to innovation.
“While driverless vehicles grab headlines, America’s freight railroads — the “iron horse” of yesteryear — deserve mention for their deployment of big-impact technology. The typical locomotive today contains supercomputers that can process a billion data points per second. This data, collected across the 140,000-mile national rail network, helps railroads spot potential problems and proactively take action.”
He describes several of the technologies deployed by railroads — “machine visioning, ground-penetrating radar and drones” — and connects this innovation trend with safety advances.
“This deployment is working — 2017 saw the lowest mainline train accident rate on record, down 32 percent from 10 years ago, according to the U.S. Federal Railroad Administration. If we take a longer view, the train accident rate is down 79 percent since 1980.”