The NFSP has three goals, each of which is expanded with strategic objectives:
Safety: Improve the safety, security, and resilience of the national freight system to:
- support the development and adoption of automation, connectivity, and other freight safety technologies
- modernise safety oversight and security procedures
- minimise the effects of fatigue and human error on freight safety
- reduce conflicts between passenger and freight traffic, and
- protect the freight system from natural and human-caused disasters and improve system resilience and recovery speed.
Infrastructure: Modernise freight infrastructure and operation to grow the economy, increase competitiveness, and improve quality of life to:
- fund targeted investments in freight capacity and national goals
- improve consideration of freight in transportation planning
- prioritise projects that improve freight intermodal connectivity, and enhance freight flows on first and last-mile connectors and at major trade gateways
- develop a methodology for identifying freight bottlenecks across modes
- advance freight system management and operation practices
- stimulate job growth and economic competitiveness in rural and urban communities, and
- mitigate the impacts of freight movement on communities.
Innovation: Prepare for the future by supporting the development of data, technologies, and workforce capabilities that improve freight system performance to:
- support the development and adoption of automation and connectivity, including vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technologies
- support the safe deployment of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) technology
- streamline or eliminate regulations to improve governance, efficiency, and economic competitiveness
- improve freight data, modelling, and analytical tools and resources
- strengthen workforce professional capacity
- invest in freight research, and
- support regulatory frameworks that foster freight innovation.
“Every day, America’s transportation network moves more than 51 million tons of freight and energy products valued at nearly $US 52bn via highways, railways, ports and inland waterways, pipelines, and airports,” USDOT says. “The growth in freight demand due to increasing use of e-commerce and global supply chains in recent years has strained our freight system, and could threaten the competitive advantage of American businesses. As these supply chains continue to spread across the world, America’s ability to compete could be limited by inadequate infrastructure and a lack of preparation for incorporating innovative technologies.
“The NFSP provides a clear path to improve the safety, security, and resilience of the national freight system. It also details how we can modernise freight infrastructure and operations to grow the economy and increase competitiveness. Additionally, the NFSP lays out a plan to prepare for the future by supporting the development of data, technologies, and workforce capabilities that improve freight system performance.”
For detailed analysis of the plan, see IRJ’s sister publication Railway Age.