SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY IN THE RAILROAD INDUSTRY

The committee's mission was to study the present use of science and technology in the railroad industry and to assess the possibilities for their further use in improving the position and productivity of the industry. A survey developed that in 1962 the railroad industry spent on research about 0.06 percent of gross railway operating revenues, and that the supply industry spent on research about 1.7 percent of net sales. Science and technology are not exploited to full advantage by the railroads, but, even if they were, they are not a panacea for all their present woes. The railroads have failed to understand their role in meeting the requirements of shippers. For an industry in which operational problems are more serious than technological problems, too little effort is devoted to systems analysis. The report recommends the establishment of a Railway Research Institute in the United States. The customers' needs include reliability of service, safety for cargo, rational pricing, and suitable equipment. The long wait in yards to assemble an 'economic' train, and the frequent delays in intermediate yards, constitute built-in delays. The carriers equipment purchases emphasize the car body and do not require better running gear. The 'service environment' is not specified. The railroad industry has failed to develop an understanding and sense of its place in the economy. The industry has shown a devotion to preservation of operating methods that could survive only in an era of rail monopoly. The industry has not combatted successfully its own inertia. The apparent complete absence of any effort to visualize what kind of railroad system would best serve the nation 20 or 40 years hence is very disturbing. The report reviews technological innovations since 1945, and the nature of current research and development. It also reviews the work of the AAR Research and Test Center, and compares it with work done in Europe by ORE and in Japan.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • A report to the Secretary of Commerce by The Committee on Science and Technology in the Railroad Industry of NAS-NRC.
  • Corporate Authors:

    National Academy of Sciences

    2101 Constitution Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC  USA  20418
  • Publication Date: 1963-8

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00046725
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Oct 10 1974 12:00AM