Warren Buffett-Owned Railroad Joins Blockchain Transport Consortium


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It may be the closest the billionaire investor ever gets to bitcoin. Berkshire Hathaway-owned BNSF, a US and Canadian railway based in Ft. Worth, Texas, is the newest member of the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA), which is comprised of 200-plus freight and logistics plays that are interested in incorporating distributed ledger technology into their industry.

While blockchain is the tech that underpins bitcoin, Warren Buffett, who for ages refrained from investing in many high-tech companies in the equity markets until he was finally lured by IBM, has no intentions of going near cryptocurrencies.

Meanwhile, blockchain technology continues to acquire more space across various sectors of the economy, including transportation. BNSF is breaking new ground as the maiden railroad to join BiTA, whose 200-plus members extend to trucking companies UPS and FedEx in addition to Schneider National.

FedEx, for instance, currently has blockchain pilots underway with a focus on customer service, more specifically conflict resolution. The blockchain provides greater transparency for the “millions of records” inputted into the transportation company’s systems daily. Incorporating the blockchain into logistics should reduce the number of conflicts, accelerate the process and bolster security, analysts suggest.

As for rail, distributed ledger technology is also a suitable fit, given the industry’s heavy reliance on logistics to move freight along the supply chain. BNSF vice president of technology services and chief information officer, Muru Murugappan, said:

“Blockchain technology has the potential to change several aspects of the transportation industry and it is important that the industry comes together to align around a set of standards. We are excited to help drive those standards forward as a member of BiTA.”

Blockchain Ushering Rail Into the 21st Century

BiTA, meanwhile, is looking to “develop blockchain standards for the logistics industry and the supply chain.” Some of the issues that the consortium is looking to tackle include “smart contracts, freight payments, asset maintenance and ownership history” using the blockchain, which would thrust the rail industry into the 21st century.

Incidentally, a tragic accident between an Amtrak train and CSX in South Carolina a few days ago in which two people lost their lives, was a result of a train being on the wrong track as a result of a misplaced switch position.

This latest accident was the fourth such incident since December, according to NPR. It’s unclear whether blockchain technology could have prevented the crashes, but a failure to adopt modern technology — GPS-fueled Positive Train Control — is being blamed for the latest tragedy.

Featured image from Wikimedia.

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