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Smarter Railroads

Embedded intelligence, analytics and optimization are reshaping the granddaddy of the transportation industry

Operations planning and optimization solution for railways from IBM

The challenge

Necessity is the mother of innovation

Economic necessity is again driving innovation in the rail industry. The positive impact of high demand for low cost passenger and freight transportation is off-set by non-rail competition, stingy economies and tight profit margins. Everyday railways need to be better and smarter—fact-driven, optimized, responsive in seconds and minutes, not days and weeks. Carefully and intelligently managing, maintaining and utilizing all of their physical and people assets are the lifeblood of a railway. Simply put, railways must improve performance: increase usage of their rail infrastructure with more trains on the same tracks at higher velocity in the most efficient, safe and cost effective manner possible. The operations planning and optimization solution for railways from IBM can help railways plan, measure and deliver real improvements in efficiency.


The solution

Building a smarter rail system

IBM®, ILOG®, a recognized industry leader in business rule management systems, optimization, and visualization, provides the necessary components of the operations planning and optimization solution. By combining functionality from ILOG, with the thousands of interconnected automatic equipment identification sensors and other devices in your system that are monitoring everything from track conditions to the location of freight to passenger wait times, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions—about crew allocations, when to predict equipment fatigue, at what time to add rolling stock to meet peak demand and how to optimize your time table. ILOG brings together the tools to deliver all facets of the solution with capabilities for:

  • Optimization: produce the best possible action plans and schedules, enhancing your ability to explore alternatives, understand trade-offs, and respond to changes in operations; predict demand and optimize capacity and staff assignments
  • Business rules: dynamically adapt and respond through automated process-based decisions; improve forecast reliability and make better resource allocations by first modeling railway operations for an optimal solution
  • Visualization: transform insight into action, enhancing collaboration for smarter role-based business decisions; making vast amounts of data more intelligent and useable

New insights and relationships form with the integration of data from throughout your system—a previously unknown connection between port security and derailments, for example—might lead to significant improvements.


The benefits

Operating efficiently = profitability

  • Optimize capacity and assets by predicting passenger or freight demands
  • Create more informed route planning, schedules and load plans based the integration of data
  • Increase utilization of existing rail infrastructure by optimizing rolling stock schedules
  • Maximize train crew and station staff assignments by modeling scheduling scenarios in advance and quickly responding to change
  • Develop ideal rolling stock maintenance schedules and achieve zero unscheduled maintenance by improved forecasting


The specifics

On-board for more than 80 years

IBM is a trusted partner with rail systems around the world—whether to provide automatic scheduling of thousands of train sets per day, as was done with a European-based system saving millions of euro a year; or modifying locomotive scheduling based on decision-making tools, which reduced train delays by up to 50 percent for an Asian railway company. We’ve been a full-service solutions provider in the rail industry since 1930.

IBM has teamed on mission-critical projects to address and solve some of the rail industry’s most urgent needs—using the expertise of thousands of IBM travel and transportation professionals and consultants who have an average of ten years of hands-on experience.

Now the IBM Global Rail Innovation Center in Beijing brings together the world’s experts in railway operations—an advisory team of railroad executives, academics, and researchers—to help build even smarter rail systems. The center continues IBM’s decade’s long commitment to the rail industry, and has a mission to generate cost savings for railroads, technologies for rail safety and security, and global best practices and standards.

The smarter railroad requires an intelligence that is networked, communicating and aware across the rail ecosystem. IBM has the resources, expertise, and experience to deliver a solution that will help railways improve efficiency, make smarter decisions and maximize technology to create business advantage.



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