A new era in freight transportation: Digital agility

What are the challenges facing the rail industry in 2023?

Critical infrastructure poised for growth

Freight rail in North America is more vital than ever today in the wake of the supply-chain shocks — caused by the confluence of the pandemic and geopolitical turmoil — that multiple industries still seem to be absorbing.

Federal initiatives, such as the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 and the Inflation Reduction Act (also passed in 2022), encourage a wave of nearshoring, reshoring and renewed investment in domestic manufacturing.

The result? More industrial inputs and more goods, all of which have to move from source to factory to consumer as safely and efficiently as possible. The transportation sector — of which freight rail is an essential component — is vital to economic growth.

Learn more about growth in freight rail 

A web of challenges

Rail networks connect suppliers and markets throughout the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) free trade zone. Digital innovation is essential to support revenue growth in their future as a conduit of regional and national prosperity.

Attracting and retaining skilled talent can be challenging for rail companies because of the nature of the workforce — distributed, seasoned, unionized. Rather than eliminating jobs, digital solutions help reshape them so labor can be more productive.

Meanwhile, because freight rail networks cross state and national boundaries, the sector will always have to navigate complex multi-jurisdictional regulations. Digital solutions can not only assist with streamlining compliance, they can also help uncover tax and risk implications.

Learn more about challenges in freight rail

Build and renew trust

Many North American freight rail companies are striving to create a culture of trust among disparate stakeholders — often with competing interests — from investors and regulators to suppliers, customers, employees and local communities.

The right digital strategies can help deliver secure, reliable data in near real time to cement that trust. Done right, digital innovation not only facilitates ongoing compliance with existing regulation, it also anticipates future needs.

Learn more about trust in freight rail

The right knowledge: Why PwC?

At PwC, our approach is to go well beyond technology. Our multidimensional expertise ranges from strategy, structure and governance to transaction design/implementation, finance and performance improvement.

We advise both public and private sector organizations across aviation, rail, shipping, ports, roads and logistics. We can help you uncover the enterprisewide impacts of digital transformation — including the tax and regulatory implications.

Based on our experience with clients, we recognize that digital transformation, grounded in enterprise resource planning (ERP), can require significant capital investment and sustained leadership commitment.

The long-term benefits of the resulting twin boosts in productivity and innovation are sustainable; however, to achieve them concurrently, a surgical approach might well be necessary. We can help you make informed choices.

Before we assist you with a solution, we stress-test it internally. That way, you don’t have to iron out the kinks. Because we already did. Our own digital transformation evolution required radical changes in the way we work and establishing strong digital foundations (e.g. Cloud, Data, APIs, DevSecOps).

We can bring the depth of that experience to our work with you — as we already have over the past several years, for a range of clients. And we can help you achieve measurable results in a tech-powered approach to business reinvention at scale.

Digital strategies for the rail industry that meet your needs

From ERP to cloud-powered technology to responsible AI — and all the attendant strategy, human capital, regulatory and tax implications — we can tailor your digital strategy to help power business model reinvention — to help you identify new channels, products and services. Discover how this evolution can unlock new markets.

Contact us

Chuck Christensen

Principal, Transportation & Logistics, PwC US


Rajeet Mohan

Principal, Transportation & Technology Strategy, PwC US


Sebastian de Meel

Principal, Transportation & Deals, PwC US


Michael English

Principal, Transportation & Logistics, PwC Canada


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