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Modernizing Information Delivery Systems

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In recent years, rail technology has experienced meteoric growth with the advent of advanced fuel management systems, smart sensors, and the use of big data to reimagine rail networks. Despite these advancements, how we disseminate critical content to our crews – such as operating rules and materials – lagged behind the digital transformation seen in other parts of the industry. Not anymore.

Replacing both the physical paper that long dominated railroads and persisted in an era of smartphones and tablets — and the relics of a bygone era of once-innovative document distribution: fax machines — Keolis has worked to move away from a reliance on outdated technology and analog processes. Partnering with Comply365, Keolis has launched RailInfo, a digital content management solution allowing for easier distribution, streamlined management, and increased portability of railroad operating rules, bulletins, and associated documents. 

 RailInfo facilitates easier and more accurate information retrieval by employees and improves communication by allowing Keolis to publish full documents more frequently. By going digital, Keolis is transitioning operating content to “living documents,” or materials that can be continually edited and updated, improving communication and clarity for crews.

A best-practice first adopted by U.S. airlines, the application-based program acts as a single hub to electronically access and distribute existing operating materials. Previously, train crews were required to carry with them entire volumes of operating rules in hardcopy format. Now, all they require is a smartphone or tablet and can more quickly retrieve information rather than thumbing through multiple books or binders. Crews have described this as “both literally and figuratively, a weight off [their] shoulders.”

Adding to the success is a first-of-its-kind mechanism for automatically importing relevant operating materials shared by host railroads, whose policies govern the tracks on which our trains sometimes operate. Beyond the operational benefits, Keolis has seen printed distributions reduced by over 95% at terminals. representing both significant cost and time savings and contributing to Keolis’s commitment to environmental stewardship.

After an initial pilot period, adoption of the platform has grown to Boston’s entire 1,000+ front-line operating workforce and continues to expand to additional teams. Front-line employees also received upgraded company-provided iOS devices as part of the deployment.

First deployed on the MBTA Commuter Rail network in Boston, this Keolis-led innovation will be next introduced in Virginia Railway Express, a pilot of which is currently underway. Keolis is also working to further leverage the platform by piloting new methods of capturing data from field crews, in-turn improving communication between field crews and maintenance staff, and further improving the accuracy of another Keolis innovation: historic seat-availability metrics provided alongside schedule information.