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Watco, Telegraph to partner in railcar visibility initiative

Short-line operator also involved in RailPulse, another railcar visibility effort

Rail technology providers are working with the railroads and other stakeholders to improve supply chain visibility (Photo: Shutterstock/Markik)

Short-line operator and 3PL Watco is partnering with next-generation rail software provider Telegraph to provide shippers with railcar visibility beyond Watco’s facilities and tracks.

Pittsburg, Kansas-headquartered Watco will incorporate Chicago-based Telegraph’s operating system into its operations. The two companies say the partnership will enable Watco’s customers to incorporate rail into the procurement and execution processes. 

Telegraph says its software provides visibility into carload and intermodal shipments by utilizing electronic data exchange, application programming interface (API) and telematics into a platform that will help customers keep track of where their railcars are located on Watco’s network.

“Telegraph’s tool helps us be more effective and efficient so we can focus on solving common rail issues for our customers,” said Michelle Bowling, Watco’s vice president of logistics sales, in a news release. “It is quick. It is easy. It is powerful. We help our customers keep their freight moving and provide cost-saving opportunities, such as rate negotiations and demurrage risk mitigation.”

Telegraph CEO Harris Ligon spoke to FreightWaves in June about Telegraph’s technological offerings.

“The interesting thing here is we’re one of the very few startups that is working in a space that has just a huge opportunity for change,” Ligon said. “This is the last segment of transportation technology that has been just kind of left untouched. And we just view this as a really unique chance to change the way that people at a railroad operate. … Same thing for 3PLs. Why is somebody paying you to visit seven different websites just to do tracking and tracing and then send them a spreadsheet? Over email? We should automate that.

“You should be working on solving additional problems or figuring out how to convert more of your fleet to a more environmentally friendly or cost-effective mode.”

Watco and Telegraph’s collaboration is among the latest in recent efforts to provide rail shippers with supply chain visibility. RailPulse is another joint effort between freight railroads and rail technology providers that seeks to help customers keep track of the location of their railcars through the use of GPS and other telematics technology. 

Among the companies involved in that effort are Watco, railcar lessors Trinity Rail (NYSE: TRN) and GATX (NYSE: GATX), railcar manufacturer The Greenbrier Companies (NYSE: GBX),  short-line operator Genesee & Wyoming and Class I railroads Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP) and Norfolk Southern (NYSE: NSC).

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Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Joanna Marsh.

Joanna Marsh

Joanna is a Washington, DC-based writer covering the freight railroad industry. She has worked for Argus Media as a contributing reporter for Argus Rail Business and as a market reporter for Argus Coal Daily.