Grup Feroviar Român (GFR) has developed and implemented Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) Expert, a digital service that provides real-time estimates about trains and wagons’ arrival at the destination or at certain train stations along the way.
The ETA Expert application will be available to GFR customers who use the Electronic Consignment Note starting May 17.
The proposed solution responds to a real need of rail freight operators, as the industry’s main competitor, the road transport, already has access to numerous such solutions, thus giving it an important competitive advantage.
“The ability to estimate the time of arrival has become commonplace for road transport, because today we all have access to many applications developed by some of the largest software companies in the world. In rail transport, the development of such a platform is much more complex, given the characteristics of this type of transport,” Amedeo Neculcea, the Deputy General Manager of Grup Feroviar Român and coordinator of this project said.
For example, a wagon can be attached to several different trains during a single transport, so the descriptive parameters of its movement must be monitored and determined throughout the entire way, from the moment the shipment is entrusted for transport. Also, the rail network is not as dense as the road network to always allow similar alternative routes, in case of unforeseen or scheduled traffic restrictions. At the same time, operators must always pay attention to limitations of transport capacity and adapt accordingly. The condition of railway infrastructure, which directly influences and affects operators’ activity, cannot be neglected either.
“Until now, the Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) considered a number of ideal parameters, and the dispatcher’s experience and knowhow. Often these estimates proved vague and difficult to make. But ETA is key in the decision-making process regarding scheduling and circulation of any freight transport, and thus requires precision of calculation and accessibility,” Neculcea explained.
The estimation system uses GFR traffic data from the last 5 years. The generated information is based on established statistical mathematics methods and the previous experience of the GFR operator expressed in digitized, properly organized information.
“The ETA Expert solution is unique in Southeast Europe because no other operator offers such a service to customers. However, our effort did not aim at a competitive gain on the railway segment, but – much more importantly – at recovering a gap we have as an industry against road transporters,” Gruia Stoica, the President and founder of GRAMPET Group – Grup Feroviar Roman, said.
ETA Expert is the latest project in a large process of digitisation and transparency launched by GFR in 2005. The operator has developed and implemented so far over 20 digital applications, some of which are available through the GFR E-Client portal, including the Electronic Consignment Letter, which provides access to technical data on loading wagons and assistance in drawing up transport contracts (in 2017) and Railway Orders (in 2012) which ensures customers’ web access to the process of ordering and insuring empty wagons.
Engineers in GFR’s internal team continue to work on new apps or modules designed to simplify and streamline operational and commercial activities.