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.

Railinc Named a Top 100 Logistics IT Provider

http://www.inboundlogistics.com/cms/index.phpInbound Logistics magazine has named Railinc among the Top 100 Logistics IT Providers for 2015. This is the fourth time the publication has recognized the company for this annual award.

"We're honored to be recognized by Inbound Logistics again," said Allen West, president and CEO. "It's a testament the excellent work of our employees, our ability to consistently deliver high-quality technology solutions for the industry and our positive, productive relationships with our customers."

Railinc's recent technology initiatives have focused on improving the life and health of rail equipment by collecting and giving visibility into detailed railcar information. Our other work has focused on improving the operations at the Chicago Terminal and the efficiency of processes related to car hire.

Many of Railinc's products support critical operations throughout the freight rail industry. Our commercial products include the RailSight suite of applications, which delivers valuable tracking and tracing data. And Railinc's Umler® system is the industry's official resource for data on equipment used in rail service in North America.

"Railinc helps to solve key supply chain challenges such as increased visibility for shippers and logistics service and transportation management system providers," said Chuck Hieronymi, director of business solutions. "Our deep rail and intermodal expertise, combined with our unique data, software and analytics solutions, enable us to deliver high-impact enhancements for our customers' rail logistics operations."

"Railinc continues to provide the technology solutions Inbound Logistics readers need to achieve the visibility and control that drives successful supply chains," said Felicia Stratton, editor of Inbound Logistics. "As shippers, carriers, and 3PLs increase their use of logistics IT, Railinc continues to be flexible and responsive, anticipating customers’ evolving needs. Railinc deserves recognition for providing the innovative solutions empowering logistics and supply chain excellence in 2015."

Each year, Inbound Logistics editors recognize 100 logistics IT companies that support and enable logistics excellence. Drawn from a pool of more than 300 companies, using questionnaires, personal interviews, and other research, Inbound Logistics selects the Top 100 Logistics IT Providers who are leading the way in 2015.

—Railinc Corporate Communications

Railway Age Features Railinc's Railcar Report

The May 2015 issue of Railway Age magazine features a review of the North American revenue-earning fleet by Dr. David Humphrey, a data scientist at Railinc. This summary of our annual North American Freight Railcar Review features key findings from Humphrey's report, including information about the age and size of the fleet, year-over-year changes in the counts of the six railcar types that make up the revenue-earning fleet and the characteristics of new railcars joining the fleet.
 
You can read more about the state of the revenue-earning fleet in Railinc's North American Freight Railcar Review 2015, which is available to download for free. Humphrey talks about the 2015 railcar review in a Railinc Tracks Blog Q&A, and past years' reports are available to download for free.
 
—Railinc Corporate Communications

 

Found on a Sticky Note

The sticky notes you find around Railinc tell stories about our culture and how we develop our products, how we learn from and work with our customers, and how we meet the technology needs of the freight rail industry. A regular feature on the Railinc Tracks blog, Found on a Sticky Note takes a look at an individual sticky note and provides insights into who we are and what we do.

Not all the sticky notes around our office have to do with the Agile software development method. Sometimes you just need a reminder to pick up snacks for your child's class.

Our employees love that Railinc supports work/life balance. Need to step out of the office to pick up those pretzels or run a few other errands? Is it your day to hit the gym for an afternoon workout? Or are you helping out in your child's classroom and need to be out of the office one morning? It isn't a problem. Our benefits include flexible scheduling and telecommuting options that give employees the freedom they need to get their Railinc work done without sacrificing their personal lives.

For example, an employee with a long commute could work from home a few days a week to cut down on the time they spend on the road. And we provide the technology and flexibility to work from home at a moment's notice if a child's illness, a personal matter or a snow day prevents an employee from coming to the office.

"The flexibility is one reason I've been here for 17 years," said Megan Rowe, a buyer for the company and the owner of the pretzel sticky note. The flexible scheduling—she works through lunch so she can leave a little early each day—helps her better manage her two daughters' schedules.

Telecommuting Offers Concentrated Work Time
For a long-term arrangement like an alternative work schedule or regular telecommuting, our full-time employees just need to work with their immediate manager to agree on terms. Because of the nature of specific jobs, some positions aren't eligible for telecommuting.

Leigh Baudreau, senior manager for financial planning and analysis, works from home one day a week. "It gives me concentrated work time," she said. "I'm always available on email and IM chat, but I can get quiet working time at home."

Everyone on Leigh's team can work from home twice a week, but the entire team is in the office together one day a week. It takes flexibility on the manager's part, Leigh said, and there are hectic times of the year. But the telecommuting option is a great benefit that her team appreciates, she said.

"I can work from home if I need to, take a break during the day for a pediatrician visit with my son or even just run a personal errand," said Chris Richter, communications manager. "I have two small children, and knowing that I have that flexibility gives me peace of mind when it comes to managing our schedules."

Railinc Supports Family Time in the Office
At Railinc, work/life balance isn't just about about figuring where and when to work. We also support family time in the office.

When school's out, it isn't unusual see children in the office, reading books or playing with toy trains while mom or dad works. On Halloween, you're likely to run into Batman or a princess or a cowboy walking around with buckets full of candy. Each year the children of employees visit the office for trick or treating, and employees decorate their work spaces and provide treats for the kids. And later this month, employees will bring their children to visit Railinc for Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day.

What better way for a kid to start their day than talking trains with mom or dad?

—Railinc Corporate Communications

Rail Equipment Reports Detail State of Fleets

We know all about rail data at Railinc. In fact, we have detailed information on nearly every railcar and locomotive you'll find rolling down the tracks in North America. These records include information like railcar type and capacity, locomotive horsepower and manufacture date.

Each year, at the Rail Equipment Finance Conference in La Quinta, Calif., Railinc Senior Analyst David Humphrey, right, presents detailed analyses of these demographic data, providing insights into the state of the railcar and locomotive fleets and where they're heading. The conference is one of many events that Railinc attends annually.

"Railinc has been a consistent presence at the Rail Equipment Finance Conference for more than 15 years," said David Nahass, senior vice president at the Railroad Financial Corporation, which holds the conference. "David's presentations are always among the most anticipated parts of the event. The attendees know the quality of Railinc’s data and see a lot of value in the information that David presents."

More than 400 people attended this year's Rail Equipment Finance Conference, including representatives from railcar lessors and lessees, banks, shippers, Class I railroads, short line railroads and finance companies.

At the conference, David presented on the revenue-earning railcar and locomotive fleets. The data in his presentations come from Railinc's Umler® system, an electronic resource that contains critical data for North American rail transportation equipment. Railroads, equipment owners, shippers and others use the Umler system for the safe and efficient placement, movement and interchange of cars for railroad carriers and customers.

In the Q&A below, he discusses the fleets, how people use his research and select highlights from both presentations. More detailed information about the fleets is available in the 2015 North American Freight Railcar Review and the 2015 North American Locomotive Review, both of which are free to download.
 

What is the revenue-earning fleet?
The revenue-earning fleet is a subset of the North American rail fleet that is largely composed of freight cars that can be used in interchange service and against which an interline waybill can be placed. It is made up of six sub-fleets: hoppers, covered hoppers, gondolas, flat cars, tank cars and box cars. This revenue-earning fleet of freight cars excludes locomotives, intermodal trailers and containers, maintenance-of-way equipment and end-of-train devices.

Why do you focus on this group of railcars in your presentation?
Most conference attendees are not interested in everything in the Umler system. Their professional focus is on traditional freight cars in revenue service moving lading from origin to destination. This is the primary means by which most car owners produce revenue from these assets. The revenue-earning fleet provides an excellent approximation of active freight cars in service. While locomotives and maintenance-of-way equipment are vitally important to the railroads, they do not produce revenue the same way equipment in the revenue-earning fleet does.

How do people use the data you present?
The Rail Equipment Finance Conference has a focus on the financial aspects of buying, selling, leasing and building freight cars and locomotives. Conference attendees use the data we present there to help make decisions for the next year and for the next decade. The age demographic data we present on the various sub-fleets highlight equipment being added in North America as well as what is likely to be retired in the next decade or so.

What were the major trends for the revenue-earning fleet in 2014?
The trends we saw in 2014 were a continuation of what we saw the previous year. The size of the revenue-earning fleet was up 2.6 percent and surpassed its 2009 population level, which is further indication of improvement in the overall economy. The two largest sub-fleets, tank cars and covered hoppers, drove the growth, while the two smallest sub-fleets, box cars and hoppers, continued to decline. The average age of the fleet continues to decline as new cars join the fleet. And larger cars, which enable operational efficiencies, are predominating among additions to the fleet.

And for locomotives?
Like with railcars, the locomotive fleet increased in size in 2014. Last year the fleet grew by about 900 locomotives and was up about 2.5 from the previous year. Locomotives tend to have long service lives, so we didn't see much change in the average or median ages of either, though both measures did increase slightly. And bigger railcars and longer trains require larger, more powerful locomotives. As a result, high-horsepower, six-axle, AC diesel locomotives have driven the fleet's recent growth.
 

The 2015 North American Freight Railcar Review and the 2015 North American Locomotive Review are both available to download for free, as are past years' reports. Railinc provides quarterly updates on the revenue-earning fleet in its Umler Equipment Index.

—Railinc Corporate Communications

Meet Railinc's People in Our 2014 Annual Report

The cover of Railinc's 2014 Annual Report.

Railinc people are smart, talented and dedicated to serving and supporting the North American freight rail system. They work behind the scenes to make sure railroads, car owners and others have the accurate, reliable data they need to to get shipments where they need to go, to keep railcars rolling safely and efficiently, and to streamline operations.

Our 2014 Annual Report highlights just a few of our many outstanding employees. These are the people who help customers resolve technology problems so they can get back to business; who work with railroad representatives on industry committees; who manage significant industry projects that deliver great value back to the industry; and who each year deliver products that we hope make working in freight rail easier.

An image of Railinc employee Robert Redd sitting at his desk.

These are people like Robert Redd (left), a Desert Storm veteran and former U.S. Army tank commander who manages systems that ensure our applications are working for our customers. And Patrice Thompson, who helps customers get the most out of Railinc products and services. And Jim Moran, whose railroad career started nearly 60 years ago and who has been a central figure in developing and advancing foundational industry systems.

We spend a lot of our time immersed in data at Railinc, developing solutions to help the industry solve its most pressing technology challenges. But at the end of the day, we know that people—railroaders—are on the other end of all the zeroes and ones, and we’re proud that our employees are helping them do great things every day.

Learn more about our people in our 2014 Annual Report, and find out about the work we've done the past nine years in our Annual Report archive.

—Railinc Corporate Communications