IBM to Expand Railroad Products From China Center

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IBM pushed further into the market for railroad management systems as it opened a base in Beijing for work on train maintenance and surveillance products.

Products displayed at the event included applications that monitor aging train parts and set off alerts when they need repair, or that reduce traffic jams by tracking the positions and delays of all trains on a network.

The Beijing center will lead further development on those products and others, in cooperation with IBM bases in Dallas and La Gaude, France, a company representative said.

Other products the center will help carry forward include a surveillance system that can track multiple people on a camera screen and ring an alarm when it spots suspicious behavior, such as someone setting a bag down and walking away. Another product controls ticket sales according to how many seats in each class are open at each point along a route.

The system that monitors train parts like engines and brakes is now being expanded to cover the train tracks, which will let it log how fast trains are traveling in addition to watching for equipment problems, the IBM representative said.

China's extensive railroad system and growth plans made it the natural place for the new operation, said Keith Dierkx, director of the IBM center.

China aims to have more high-speed rail than the rest of the world combined within five years, he said.

The center will tailor products for the huge Chinese market, which IBM has tapped before. IBM worked with China's railway ministry to deploy train monitoring and service stations across 2,000 Chinese cities starting over 10 years ago.

Products developed at the center will also be marketed abroad, Dierkx said.

Dierkx declined to say how many staff would work at the center, but said it would integrate work by "hundreds, if not thousands" of people worldwide.

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