Icons of Progress – The Optimization of Global Railways – IBM

IBM100IBM’s first client in Italy, the Italian state-owned Ferrovie dello Stato (Italian Railways) turned to IBM to automate administrative processes in 1928. The Italian Ministry of Transport had seen how the Hollerith tabulating machine was helping railways in the United States—and in countries such as England, South Africa, Argentina and Mexico—and wanted to achieve similar results. Ferrovie dello Stato found success with the system, optimizing inventory of spare parts to drastically reduce waste, and gaining statistical traffic analysis that informed train scheduling and allocation. Seventy years later, IBM Italy was again working with Ferrovie dello Stato, this time to implement an advanced online ticketing and reservation system.

For more than a century, IBM has been helping global railways transform and optimize operations—from compiling statistics about freight traffic using punched cards, to supporting smarter rail systems today. Railways in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, France, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, the United States, Yugoslavia and more have all benefited from IBM’s history and experience in the industry.

Mexican National Railways

Mexican National Railways installed two IBM ® System/370 Model 145 systems in 1977. They were linked to 11 IBM 3770 terminals located in major freight stations throughout the railway network to control the movement of railroad cars.

Deutsche Bundesbahn

Deutsche Bundesbahn (German Railways) acquired 500 IBM AS/400 ® computers in 1990 to help revitalize its business operations and provide outstanding customer service. The initial installations are part of an order for 800 systems, one of IBM’s largest single orders in EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) to date.

Swiss Federal Railway

In 1997, Swiss Federal Railway and IBM’s Zurich Research Laboratory developed and introduced one of the world’s first online railroad ticket services, allowing travelers to order tickets, pay for them by credit card, and receive them by mail or collect them at the train station.

Indian Railways

The Centre for Railway Information Systems, the organization dedicated to managing the IT systems of India Railways—the world’s largest railway—deployed a crew management system based on IBM software in 2010. The system balances scheduling efforts more efficiently by offering India Railways managers clear, real-time insight into the skill sets and locations of employees. It automates employee assignments, helping avoid staffing shortages and overtime expenditures even if employees are late to work or absent. In addition, it encourages increased public safety by controlling rail access with biometric login systems and by controlling shift lengths to prevent overworking staff.

Netherlands Railways

Netherlands Railways, one of the busiest national railway networks in Europe, is using IBM software to manage more than 5000 trains in the Netherlands through a network of 390 stations and 2800 kilometers of track. The smart transportation system improves the on-time performance for more than one million passengers by more accurately matching the number of trains in service to expected user traffic. Netherlands Railways estimates it has been able to improve its operating efficiency by as much as six percent, netting the railway a cost savings of over €20 million annually.

Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation

Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation (THSRC) is using IBM software to manage maintenance and logistics for the revolutionary high-speed rail network that runs along the west coast of Taiwan. With maximum train speeds approaching 190 miles per hour, high-speed rail raises maintenance requirements to a new level due to the extraordinary stresses on tracks, brakes and wheels, to name a few. To help meet these requirements, THSRC used IBM Maximo ® software to build an advanced equipment maintenance system capable of automatically triggering maintenance activities by detecting potential problems in the network and—through automated alarms—it can help alert the railway to a problem before it becomes a risk.

Russian Railways

IBM is overhauling Russian Railways’ software infrastructure to consolidate data centers and adopt new automation software. To gain better control of the complex rail system, IBM is helping the railway migrate its freight management, passenger management and financial management applications to three new consolidated, disaster-proof data centers based on IBM mainframe technology. Russian Railways is also using IBM WebSphere ® software for core internal and external web portals. The internal portal is used for information management and document sharing among railway employees. The external portal improves the passenger experience by allowing tickets to be booked online without passengers having to visit a train station in advance.

IEEE Spectrum recently recognized IBM’s smarter transportation work with Russian Railways as a project that the technology business magazine expects to achieve great social benefit and commercial success. IBM’s project with Russian Railways was identified as “the technology having the most promising potential to provide the greatest benefit to humankind.” The 2010 IEEE Spectrum Technology in the Service of Society ACE Award was presented at the 6th Annual EE Times ACE Awards on April 27, 2010.

IBM Global Rail Innovation Center

In 2009, IBM opened the Global Rail Innovation Center in China, bringing 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 leading representatives and organizations in the railroad community: Judge Quentin L. Kopp, chairman of the California High Speed Rail Authority; Michigan Technological University; Motorola; Railinc; RMI; Tsinghua University; Professor Joseph M. Sussman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Allen West of Railinc and others.