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IBM builds rail innovation center in China

Posted: 16 Jun 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:railway? rail center China? software?

IBM Corp. has opened a new Global Rail Innovation Center in China that will bring together the world's foremost industry leaders, researchers and universities to advance next-generation rail systems.

Founding members of the center's Advisory Board include representatives and organizations in the railroad community: Quentin L. Kopp, chairman of the California High Speed Rail Authority; Michigan Technological University; Motorola; Railinc; RMI; Sabre; Tsinghua University; and Pro. Joseph M. Sussman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Advisory Board's role is to help define areas where business and technology solutions can solve passenger and freight rail problems.

The center will address the rail industry's most pressing challenges including passenger reservations and service; asset utilization and productivity; surveillance of tracks and infrastructure; scheduling; integrated fare management; and environmentally efficient operations.

Based in Beijing, the Rail Innovation Center will be staffed by a global network of IBM rail consultants, software specialists, mathematicians and business partners. China is at the epicenter of revolutionizing rail infrastructure and operations, introducing new high speed trains and a hugely expanded rail network at an unprecedented pace.

"Population growth and urbanization are driving an unprecedented demand for modernized rail systems, and governments and businesses worldwide recognize that railroads play a critical role in supporting economic growth," said Keith Dierkx, director of the IBM center. "By bringing together leading industry experts and advanced technologies, we can help rail providers increase rail capacity, efficiency, safety, and customer serviceresulting in networks of smarter rail systems around the world."

Hi-tech tracks
New railroad networks will contain millions of sensors that track everything from train speeds to when brakes need to be replaced. Building these intelligent rail networks requires a high-powered, integrated system that can collect, manage and analyze the enormous amount of data flowing in from the tracks, through the trains and stations, and across the maintenance process.

Netherlands Railways, one of Europe's busiest, uses advanced optimization software from IBM to weigh 56,000 variables, including the railroad's infrastructure and passenger demand, to assemble and schedule more than 5,000 trains per day, improving operating efficiency by 6 percent with an estimated annual savings of 20 million euros ($27.8 million). This scheduling model can also be applied to future projects being led out of the new rail center.

Working on these projects demands a unique set of products, skills and services. The new rail center will bring together IBM and its industry partnersboth physically and virtuallyto jointly develop these skills and put the products and services into action.

Jun Li, dean of Research Institute of Information Technology, Tsinghua University, said, "As China's railway industry rapidly enters its golden era, it is expected to take the lead in new rounds of economic development. Building advanced railroad systems is a priority that demands a unique set of products, skills and services. As China's most prestigious technological institution, Tsinghua University is a world-class center for science, research and innovation. Through its combination of research, software and services capabilities, IBM's newly established Global Rail Innovation Center in Beijing will deeply benefit and enable China's railway industry development. Tsinghua would like to collaborate with the center to jointly develop solutions to meet China's unique requirement."

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