Skip to content
Home » Blog » ATDA keeping a close watch on new rail technology

ATDA keeping a close watch on new rail technology

PUEBLO, CO – On March 6, 2024, ATDA Vice President Brandon Denucci and Norfolk Southern ATDA General Chairman Nick Serrano, as well as a number of representatives from other rail unions and the FRA, attended a demonstration of new rail technology conducted at MxV Rail’s test facility in Pueblo, Colorado. The event was an exhibition of the Mark 2, a “novel, self-propelled, zero-emission, battery-electric rail vehicle” being developed by Parallel Systems.  The demonstration was held in conjunction with a Petition for Waiver Compliance currently under review by the FRA. The petition, filed by Genesee & Wyoming subsidiaries Georga Central Railway (GCRY) and Heart of Georgia Railroad (HOG), seeks relief from certain safety regulations to conduct a multi-phase testing of the Mark 2 vehicle on the GCRY and HOG which, at one location, crosses Norfolk Southern trackage at-grade. While Parallel Systems states that its goal is to ultimately develop a vehicle which will allow carriers to compete with the short-haul trucking market which it is presently is unable to do economically, Vice President Denucci is concerned about the broader implications on rail workers as well as the practicality of such a vehicle.  “We need to have a better understanding of the potential impact on our brothers and sisters in the rail industry, both from a safety standpoint as well as possible negative impacts on workforce employment,” Denucci stated. “We are all aware of how railroads have become over reliant on half-baked, unproven technology.  The testing process of this technology needs to be conducted in a highly controlled environment in conjunction with rail labor, with full transparency of any all data including instances where the technology does not perform as anticipated.”  General Chairman Serrano added, “It’s difficult to see how the vehicles will be able to be practically used or interact with other rail equipment given the lack of couplers between them making it impossible to return the empties in conventional train service.”  

A public hearing on the Petition for Waiver Compliance will be held on March 12, 2024, between 1pm and 5pm eastern and can be viewed by registering here.