Precision Scheduling of Autonomous and Human-Based Ridesharing (PSAHBR)

By Lance Eliot, the AI Trends Insider
Norfolk Southern Corp is doing a makeover of some rather convoluted trainyards.
Turns out there are freight railroads that funnel into hubs that have been run the same way for over a century. Generally, freight trains roll into these hectic hubs, the workhorse trains sit around idly waiting for their cargo, and when things seem to reach a suitable readiness of loaded trains ready to roll, the freight trains then head-out on their treks.
It is reportedly a remarkably ad hoc activity and overseen by a seat-of-the-pants approach.
The hope by several of the major train firms, acting as freight haulers, will be to transform this seemingly chaotic hub activity into a precision of scheduling and efficiency.
By revamping the freight train operations, there are intentions to make this complicated dance into one that is tightly woven with specific entry and exit times, predicted in-advance, and carefully tracked schedules. Presumably, this will allow for more freight movement, more timely freight movement, and make better use of the railroad’s scarce resources. Think of an airport with the daily and moment-to-moment ballet of planes arriving and departing, doing so based on published schedules, along with sticking to the timetables as much as possible.
Precision Scheduling Railroading (PSR)
The notion of transforming the freight train operations is being referred to as Precision Scheduling Railroading (PSR).
In theory, the PSR approach should be able to achieve the desired boosts in efficiency and effectiveness.
Having done quite a number of business process revamps in my working career, I can attest that the theory is often easier than the practical reality. I’m sure there is a chance that the PSR might at first fail to adequately model the realities of the freight train operations, perhaps leading to worse chaos and poorer efficiencies and effectiveness at the get-go.
It takes a lot of elbow grease to make sure that formerly by-hand efforts are not forsaken as somehow backward and inappropriate. The odds are that those manual methods evolved over many years and include lots of workarounds that keep the trains rolling. It might not be the most efficient approach, but it gets the job done. There is a chance that a new system could upend that approach and inadvertently foul things up, albeit only initially, once the kinks get ironed out.
This effort also needs to consider the ramifications of upstream and downstream vital touch-points.
Will the freight train customers be able to accommodate a more measured schedule?
Those customers are likely making use of processes and operations that assume the hub has an ad hoc schedule. When the hub changes to a more precise and tenacious schedule, those customers will need to likewise alter how they do their business.
I mention this aspect because...