Railinc Tracks Blog

Railinc tracks are everywhere although you don't always see them. The Railinc Tracks blog reveals them one at a time and shows you how we help to keep railroads, railcars and rail shipments moving across America. The blog is staffed by the Railinc Corporate Communication team and will give you news and insights about our company, our people and our products.


From Freight Rail Rookie to Rising Star

Just because you don’t have freight rail experience, doesn’t mean you can’t find success in the freight rail industry.

“When I started at Railinc, I couldn’t tell the difference between the ‘A’ end and the ‘B’ end of a railcar,” said Jerry Vaughn, the company’s director of interline services. “Everyone welcomed me and shared their knowledge.”

Railinc's Jerry Vaughn, left, with Kirk Bastyr,
publisher of
Progressive Railroading magazine.

Since 2009, when he joined the company as a business analyst, Vaughn has learned and grown as a rail industry professional. Rising through the ranks of product management, he has been in charge of nearly all of Railinc’s AAR-related industry products. These essential applications and systems are embedded in critical industry processes and operations that have an impact on everything from car repair to maintenance to financial exchanges. He also has led high-impact industry and internal initiatives that have delivered value to the industry and helped to change the way his colleagues work.

Progressive Railroading magazine recently recognized Vaughn’s work at Railinc, naming him among the  winners of the 2016 Rising Star Award and profiling him in the September issue of the publication. The award recognizes 20 people under the age of 40 who are making a positive difference in the North American railroad industry. Vaughn was recognized along with the other winners at a July 24 dinner in Pittsburgh. Also honored was Rapik Saat, director of operations analysis at the Association of American Railroads, Railinc’s parent organization.

“Jerry’s vision and leadership have enabled Railinc to deliver on critical industry initiatives and to provide innovative technology solutions,” said E. Allen West, president and CEO of Railinc. “Through his approach to his work and his passion for the freight rail industry, he has earned the respect of Railinc customers, his colleagues and industry peers.”

Vaughn Leads Innovative Tech Development, High-Impact Programs

Vaughn leads a team that develops innovative technology solutions that are critical to the efficient movement and interchanging of railcars across the North American rail network. He also serves as product manager for the Umler® business unit, which includes the Umler system. This mission-critical resource for rail equipment data contains the physical characteristics and other data on more than 2 million pieces of rail equipment.

But Vaughn’s work goes beyond the day-to-day management of Railinc products and services and the people who develop them. He has been a leader in multiple long-term initiatives that will have a lasting positive impact on the freight rail industry and on Railinc, including the Component Tracking program, the Asset Health Strategic Initiative (AHSI) and the Railinc Rules and Process Modernization (RPM) program.

Launched in 2011, Component Tracking is an ongoing industry initiative to build and maintain a database of railcar equipment component information. This multi-year program enables electronic tracking and identification of specific railcar components to enable decision making that improves rail safety, reduces costs associated with equipment maintenance, and supports more efficient and effective rail operations.

The first phase of the program focused on wheelsets. One example of the program's real impact is a 2014 recall that targeted only the affected wheelsets and railcars, enabling a strategic approach to assessing risk and executing a mitigation strategy. The success of the wheelset phase implementation has led the industry to approve expansion of the program to sideframes, bolsters, couplers, the service and emergency portions of brake valves, and slack adjusters.

Initiatives Addressing Rail Yard Challenges, Changing Way Railinc Employees Work

Vaughn has also been instrumental in providing product leadership around AHSI, a multi-year, multi-phase program that will apply IT solutions and processes to address challenges associated with railcars. The program seeks to reduce mechanical service interruptions, improve the quality of railcar inspections, and increase rail yard and repair shop efficiency. As head of Railinc's asset services products, which include the Umler and Early Warning systems, Vaughn provides product and project management focus that has helped the company execute on AHSI concepts and incorporate them into product releases and align them with internal and industry processes.

Jerry Vaughn speaks at the Progressive Railroading
Rising Stars dinner on July 24 at Pittsburgh.

“Jerry is an inspiration and is deserving of widespread recognition,” said Jeff Usher, assistant vice president at the AAR. “I have observed over several years now Jerry’s maturation at Railinc. He always handles the challenges presented him with a cool confidence that calms the situation at hand while doggedly advancing to achieving solutions that satisfies stakeholders and constituents alike.”

Vaughn also serves as the steering committee chair for the company’s RPM program. This internal corporate initiative is designed to improve the management of the industry rules and processes that underlie Railinc’s software applications and data systems. The program is unique because it affects many existing software applications, extends across multiple business lines and customer segments, and will play a role in how future applications are developed and managed. It also impacts the work of about 100 software engineers and 30 business analysts.

“You could never learn everything about railroading, but my experience at Railinc has helped me understand the complexities and challenges our customers face every day,” said Vaughn, who now serves as director of interline services. “Thanks to the guidance of the industry and the work of our people, Railinc has been able to help them deal with these complexities and solve these challenges. And it takes the entire industry—manufacturers, committees, repair shops, our own development teams—to execute on these important programs with the success we do.”

—Railinc Corporate Communications