News / Are Rail Service Metrics Still Lacking?

Are Rail Service Metrics Still Lacking?

08 May 2023 - by - in Industry News
Rail Service Metrics

Stationed train carrying cargo.

Business owners understand the importance of timely and efficient shipping services. So, rail service metrics must become standardized and more transparent. The lack of uniformity among rail services can impede your business’s success. Consistent metrics could lead to better communication and relationships between companies and railroads.

What Are Rail Service Metrics?

Rail service metrics measure the performance and efficiency of rail shipping. These include on-time performance, car velocity, and terminal dwell time.

Here’s a closer look at each of these metrics:

Rail car velocity measures the average speed that rail cars travel. It’s calculated by dividing the distance traveled by the time it took for them to arrive. Velocity is vital because it reflects the rail network’s efficiency. A higher velocity means that rail cars are moving faster. Higher speeds mean shorter transit times and lower costs. Lower velocity means delays in the rail network. Delays result in longer transit times and higher costs.

Terminal dwell time is how long a shipment spends at a terminal facility. A long dwell time can lead to increased costs, delays, and inefficiencies in the supply chain. It can also mean potential congestion and reduced capacity at the terminal. Transportation companies must manage dwell time to ensure the smooth flow of goods.

On-time performance metrics are essential for shippers who rely on rail transportation. High on-time performance indicates a reliable and efficient transportation service. Low on-time performance can lead to delays, increased costs, and lost business.

The Challenges Of Inconsistent Metrics

Metric consistency among rail service providers would make comparing service levels less challenging for businesses that ship. Some of the challenges they face include

  • Confusion: Railroads use different metrics to measure performance. This makes it difficult to compare service levels.
  • Inefficiencies: Inconsistent metrics can lead to delays and disruptions in the supply chain. These delays can result in increased costs and reduced efficiency.
  • Planning difficulties: Businesses need to plan their shipping operations. Inconsistent metrics can make it challenging to do so.
  • Disputes: When railroads and businesses use different metrics, conflicts can arise. Performance and payment issues can lead to added costs and legal issues.
  • Lack of accountability: Railroads are only accountable for lousy performance with standardized metrics. This lack of accountability can cause suboptimal service and increased costs for businesses.

How This Can Impact Your Business

The lack of transparency in rail service metrics can cause problems for companies. Delays, disruptions, and increased costs affect the supply chain and bottom line. A lack of metrics makes informed decisions about which railroad to use challenging.

What Can You Do About It?

You can take steps to mitigate the impact of inconsistent rail service metrics. One way is to work with your railroad service to understand their reporting methods. You can consider using a transportation management system (TMS) that integrates with railroads. These systems provide standardized metrics to help you compare railroad service levels. You need this information to make informed decisions about your shipments.

If you’re experiencing inconsistent rail service, other options are very efficient. Air freight shipping is a reliable option for time-critical shipments. Intermodal rail is another option combining the advantages of rail and road transportation. This mode allows for more flexibility in scheduling and routing. Domestic freight shipping services can also provide a reliable and cost-effective alternative. Time-critical shipping can get your goods to their destination fast. These shipping options can reduce the impact of inconsistent rail service metrics.

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