August 11, 2023

G&W short lines want to test autonomous rail vehicle technology


Two Georgia subsidiaries of short line operator Genesee & Wyoming (G&W) are seeking permission from the Federal Railroad Administration to test zero-emissions, autonomous rail vehicle technology developed by Parallel Systems.

The two subsidiaries, Georgia Central Railway (GC) and Heart of Georgia Railroad (HOG), filed a petition with FRA on Thursday. GC spans 211 miles between the Port of Savannah and Macon, Georgia, and it interchanges with eastern U.S. Class I railroads CSX (NASDAQ: CSX) and Norfolk Southern (NYSE: NSC). HOG runs between Midville and Preston, with one interchange with CSX and two interchanges with NS. 

The pilot project would consist of using Parallel’s self-propelled, battery-operated rail vehicle technology on portions of the short lines’ rail lines. If FRA approves the project, the two short lines would demonstrate the technology in a field setting “while using carefully developed protocols to ensure the pilot is operated in a safe, controlled manner,” G&W said Thursday in a news release. FRA would also oversee the project, which would have multiple phases. 

“GC and HOG believe the development and anticipated adoption of this technology has the potential to capture new container business moving to and from the Port of Savannah, as well as reinvigorate traffic on rural rail lines and revive inland ports in Georgia — all while removing trucks from the region’s roads and reducing carbon emissions,” G&W said.

Parallel co-founder and CEO Matt Soule told FreightWaves earlier this year that intermodal is one of the segments where the company sees its technology as having a place.

“What we’re trying to do is help shift or free up the activities handled by trucking to rail — this is a modal conversion, not about replacing freight trains,” Soule said in April. Culver City, California-based Parallel was founded by former SpaceX engineers in 2020. 

“We want to work alongside those conventional freight trains but give the rail industry a platform or a set of tools that can allow them to handle more of the volume that’s done by trucking right now. And for many reasons, there are operational limitations why rail can’t serve more markets, and that’s what we’re trying to unlock,” Soule said.

Subscribe to FreightWaves’ e-newsletters and get the latest insights on freight right in your inbox.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Joanna Marsh.


The second annual F3: Future of Freight Festival will be held in Chattanooga, “The Scenic City,” this November. F3 combines innovation and entertainment — featuring live demos, industry experts discussing freight market trends for 2024, afternoon networking events, and Grammy Award-winning musicians performing in the evenings amidst the cool Appalachian fall weather.

Source link
In this article:
Share on social media: