Big Blue gets on track in China

Armonk, NY – IBM has opened a new Global Rail Innovation Center in China aimed at bringing together industry leaders, researchers and universities to develop next-generation rail systems.

Based in Beijing, the Rail Innovation Center will be staffed by IBM rail consultants, software specialists, mathematicians and business partners. The company says that China is at the center of revolutionizing rail infrastructure and operations for the 21st century, introducing new high speed trains and a hugely expanded rail network at an unprecedented pace.

The Center will work in areas including passenger reservations and service, asset utilization and productivity, surveillance of tracks and infrastructure, scheduling integrated fare management and environmentally friendly operations.

“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 service – resulting in networks of smarter rail systems around the world.”

In addition to collaboration with the Advisory Board, the Center will draw upon assets and expertise from across IBM and around the world including its Research labs, software development labs, systems centers and global service delivery capabilities. The center will also link with business consultants at IBM’s recently announced Analytics Solutions Centers to create a global virtual rail community that can collectively address rail industry challenges.

IBM cites examples such as teams in China or California might be able to learn from the development of an Italian high speed rail system, and how a US inter-modal freight project could be applied in Russia.

Founding members of the Center’s Advisory Board include representatives from the California High Speed Rail Authority, Michigan Technological University, Motorola, Railinc, RMI, Sabre, Tsinghua University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Professor 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.

“Through its combination of research, software and services capabilities, IBM’s newly established Global Rail Innovation Center 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.”

“The development of high-speed rail in California is critical to the economic and environmental welfare of the state,” added Quentin Kopp, Chair of the California High Speed Rail Authority.

“It’s encouraging to see companies like IBM drawing together international rail industry experts and leaders to share lessons learned in order to build smarter, safer, and more efficient high-speed rail systems – especially in countries and states where traffic congestion and gridlock are costing citizens valuable time, productivity and billions of dollars each year.”