August 22, 2023
From Popular Resistance

Savannah, Ga. — Two Genesee & Wyoming short lines in Georgia today asked the Federal Railroad Administration to allow them to conduct a pilot program that would test Parallel Systems’ zero-emission autonomous container cars.

The 211-mile Georgia Central Railway and 233-mile Heart of Georgia Railroad would like to test the battery-electric cars – which can run alone or coupled together as an autonomous train – on portions of their lines beginning next year.

“GC and HOG believe the development and anticipated adoption of this technology has the potential to capture new container business moving to and from the Port of Savannah, as well as reinvigorate traffic on rural rail lines and revive inland ports in Georgia – all while removing trucks from the region’s roads and reducing carbon emissions,” G&W said.

The Port of Savannah is the fastest-growing containerport in the U.S.

If approved, the multi-phased pilot would be overseen by the FRA, G&W, and Parallel Systems, which G&W said would allow them to “demonstrate the technology in a field setting while using carefully developed protocols to ensure the pilot is operated in a safe, controlled manner.”

Parallel Systems, founded by a group of former SpaceX engineers in 2020, says its technology will allow railroads to expand their service alongside conventional operations while using existing infrastructure. The Los Angeles-based startup aims to help railroads capture freight off the highway and reduce the industry’s carbon footprint.

G&W’s waiver petition was not immediately available.

Parallel Systems’ video explains the concept behind the railcar and related intermodal system.

Georgia Central and Heart of Georgia connect in Vidalia, Ga.