VIA Rail Canada is extending a pilot project that uses artificial intelligence that helps to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from rail operations.
The project is part of VIA’s five year sustainability plan in collaboration with Transport Canada and Innovative Solutions Canada Texting Stream. VIA started working with a start-up called RailVision Analytics to test EcoRail, which uses artificial intelligence software to provide driving recommendations to locomotive engineers to reduce fuel consumption.
Afterward and within six months, locomotive engineers using VIA’s simulators verified a potential reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gasses of up to 15 per cent. The natural next step was for the corporation to push the project into real-time operations.
“This AI pilot project perfectly exemplifies our determination to find new and different ways to reimagine the way Canadians travel from reservation to destination,” said Michael Brankley, vice-president of railway operations.
Artificial intelligence crunches numbers and improves driver behaviour
EcoRail captures data about driving behaviour between station stops and derives insights for improvements to allow for fuel efficiency. The app then collects and sends existing onboard data to its cloud platform. Algorithms then factor in data points like equipment, season and schedule, and recommend fuel-effective behaviour changes without effecting travel time.
— RailVision Analytics (@RVAnalytics) November 24, 2022
VIA Rail is Canada’s rail passenger service. It and its employees are mandated to provide safe, efficient and economical rail service in both official languages. The corporation offers train services linking over 400 communities in Canada and over 180 more through partnerships. The service also moved over 5 million passengers in 2019. It has also won nine Safety Awards and three Environment Awards by the Railway Association of Canada since 2005.