Digital Transformation of Rail Freight Market a US$339 Billion Opportunity

09 Apr 2018

Rail freight transport technology adoption is beginning to evolve just as commercial trucking did over the last five to ten years.  ABI Research, a market-foresight advisory firm providing strategic guidance on the most compelling transformative technologies, finds that the Positive Train Control (PTC) regulation set for December 2018 in the United States and the European Train Control System regulation will be a tipping point for additive technology adoption. The purpose of the new regulation is to offer safety benefits in a similar way to the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate for commercial trucking a year earlier.

“Relatively nascent technologies developing for freight include: alt fuel/energy efficient locomotives and wagons, train control systems, video surveillance, predictive maintenance, intelligent rail infrastructure and operations, Freight Information Systems (FIS), and safety systems,” states Susan Beardslee, Senior Analyst at ABI Research. “Companies like Commtrex, Railnova, Cylus, and Activu are addressing industry pain points with asset marketplaces, predictive maintenance, cybersecurity, and visualization which may increase freight’s current 16% share of total transport revenues.” 

Tier-One Bosch is working with SBB Cargo on Asset Monitoring for Railway Applications (AMRA). Alstom is bringing rail autonomy to the Netherlands this year, with an approximate 62-mile test track. BNSF (owned by Berkshire Hathaway) recently became the first rail company to join the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA).  The Thales Group’s CyberRail solution was designed to protect critical data infrastructures such as operation control centers. 4G growth is expected to top 3 million connections in rail by 2021, the same year that 5G is expected to see initial adoption.

The next stage of intermodal “intelligence” adoption is poised to be rail.  “Rail networks must reinvent themselves from centuries-old commodities transport into real-time, interoperable, and dynamic systems that are invaluable to a 21st Century supply chain.  This can be accomplished through an integrated transportation ecosystem, greater resource utilization, and the creation of new value-added services,” concludes Beardslee.    

These findings are from ABI Research’s  Rail Freight Digitization and Innovation report. This report is part of the company’s  Intelligent Transportation & eFreight research service, which includes research, data, and Executive Foresights.

About ABI Research

ABI Research provides strategic guidance for visionaries needing market foresight on the most compelling transformative technologies, which reshape workforces, identify holes in a market, create new business models and drive new revenue streams. ABI’s own research visionaries take stances early on those technologies, publishing groundbreaking studies often years ahead of other technology advisory firms. ABI analysts deliver their conclusions and recommendations in easily and quickly absorbed formats to ensure proper context. Our analysts strategically guide visionaries to act now and inspire their business to realize a bigger picture. For more information about ABI Research’s forecasting, consulting and teardown services, visionaries can contact us at +1.516.624.2500 in the Americas, +44.203.326.0140 in Europe, +65.6592.0290 in Asia-Pacific or visit


About ABI Research

ABI Research is a global technology intelligence firm delivering actionable research and strategic guidance to technology leaders, innovators, and decision makers around the world. Our research focuses on the transformative technologies that are dramatically reshaping industries, economies, and workforces today.

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