Alexandria, VA – Big data, drones, and multidimensional ultrasonic technology are just a few of the rail industry’s newest innovations aimed at advancing rail safety. In its first “State of the Industry” report, released January 27, the Association of American Railroads explores key challenges, accomplishments and innovations in rail safety.

Track health
Monitoring the health of the nationwide rail network, via advanced technologies like ground-penetrating radar.

State-of-the-art inspection technology currently makes it possible for railroads to identify 90 percent of track defects before they lead to an incident. In 2016, the industry will continue advancing innovations like multidimensional ultrasonic technology, currently in testing, which aims to identify the remaining 10 percent of track imperfections.

Unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, are also being tested for use in track and bridge inspections. Additionally, railroads are working to fully implement positive train control, or PTC, on tracks carrying hazardous materials or passenger rail traffic—some 60,000 track-miles.

Railroads are also finding ways to improve community response planning and training through innovations like the AskRail mobile app. Launched in 2015, the app is designed to prepare emergency responders for a rail incident by giving them access to information about the contents of railcars.

Read the report for more information on rail’s newest innovations and how the industry is working to make a safe network even safer: