Chicago: Freight Rail Industry Improves Train Management

Freight railroads operating in Chicago are better prepared to manage rail traffic going to, from and through the Chicago region, thanks to the Chicago Integrated Rail Operations Center (CIROC).

Freight Rail

Columbus and Greenville Locomotives © Matthew Nichols (license)

Opened in December 2015, the railroads that make up the Chicago Planning Group and the Chicago Transportation Coordination Office established CIROC to monitor and facilitate efficient rail operations within Chicago. CIROC, a facility that operates around-the-clock, includes direct connections to each carrier and track views that assist employees with resolving operational issues and identifying and addressing congestion issues in order to reduce train delays. The operation of the CIROC continues the ongoing railroad efforts to improve freight mobility in the region, including the completion of many railroad capital construction projects designed to reduce chokepoints and increase capacity. 

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the volume of imported and exported goods transported via rail in Chicago is forecast to increase nearly 150 percent between 2010 and 2040.

Edward R. Hamberger, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads (AAR), said:

“Chicago is the epicenter of the nation’s freight and passenger rail system with about 25 percent of all U.S. freight rail traffic going through the region.”

“Freight railroads have long taken steps to identify critical factors impacting rail operations in the area. Coordination between Chicago railroads is key to achieving the benefits of the extensive planning, particularly during challenging winter weather.”

The establishment of CIROC improves Chicago-specific visibility, metrics and measurements that work as early warnings for potential problems. This equips railroads to better communicate on an ongoing basis, review train schedules and routing protocols and improve the ability to have the necessary equipment, materials and personnel in place to keep trains moving.

Hamberger added:

“Operational planning and plan execution are extremely important for all railroads across the nation’s 140,000-mile rail network.”

“Under the new system, rail traffic issues will be better pinpointed through the CIROC’s monitoring process.”

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