Automated cranes at BEST terminal

Majority of rail freight industry plans to invest in automation

Photo: BEST terminal

Automation and integration of systems are top priorities within the global rail industry. This is the conclusion of a survey carried out by Navis, a provider of operational technologies and services. The survey, carried out among its members and other professionals, showed that 60 per cent even plans to invest in automation over the next three years.

The poll was carried out among rail industry executives from both mid-size and large railroad companies from around the world. This industry is seeking new productivity gains, Navis explained. Navis speaks tomorrow on the second day of the RailFreight Summit in Lodz, about the impact of technology on the supply chain industry. “The impact of handling and transporting cargo needs to be done in a smarter way than before”, explains Kevin Cousaert, who represent the company at the summit.

Which areas first

According to the poll, another 58 per cent plans to invest in enterprise-wide planning and operational systems and 43 per cent in artificial intelligence and machine learning over the next three years. 62 per cent of the respondents believe that railways need to automate trains and yards within the next six years to stay competitive with alternative modes of transportation. In addition, 90 per cent believe that AI and machine learning will be an important component to improving rail operations in the same time frame.

Respondents were also asked which areas are among the most important to automate first. Car and wagon planning and management led the way with 69 per cent, followed by network and path planning (59 per cent), and crew planning and management (54 per cent).

Image: Navis

“As the rail freight industry evolves, automation is a clear path to increasing productivity and effectiveness,” said Tom Forbes, Head of Navis Rail. “This survey shows us just how motivated companies are to find technological solutions that optimise and streamline their operations.”

Image: Navis


Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is the editor-in-chief of, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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