IBM, Amtrak Sign Services Deal

IBM and Amtrak, which have been working together for 15 years, have signed a services agreement in which IBM will manage much of the railroad's IT infrastructure, including its data center operations, security services, asset management and help desk. The agreement comes about two months after IBM opened its Global Rail Innovation Center in China, designed to create solutions for putting more intelligence into rail systems worldwide.

IBM is expanding its long-standing relationship with Amtrak through a services agreement in which the vendor will manage the railroad's data center operations.

As part of the agreement, announced Aug. 3, IBM also will handle security services, asset management and desktop support for Amtrak, which has 19,000 employees and moves 28.7 million passengers across the country. In addition, IBM will manage the infrastructure for Amtrak's reservation system.

Terms of the deal were not announced.

The relationship between IBM and Amtrak dates back to 1994, according to the companies.

In June, IBM highlighted work it was doing with Amtrak as part of its Smarter Planet initiative, designed to put greater intelligence into systems used in such areas as transportation and manufacturing. At an event at the IBM offices in Bedford, Mass., Bill Broughton, director of enterprise asset management for Amtrak, talked about how the railroad is using IBM's Maximo software to manage assets-such as track, power substations and relays-along its Northeast corridor.

In addition, Amtrak is working on a pilot program in which track inspectors with Apple iPhones using Maximo software can share information in real time. The railroad also is using Maximo software for employee attendance management.

IBM is putting a lot of effort behind its work in the transportation industry. In June, the company opened its Global Rail Innovation Center in China. The center is aimed at bringing together industry experts, researchers and academics to create smarter rail systems globally.

In a blog announcing the new center, Keith Dierkx, the facility's director, said it will focus on advanced data analytics for scheduling and maintenance, enabling cell phone service for passengers, creating wireless sensors on bearings and axles, and digital video systems that will give employees a better view of the track to ensure that it's clear and to respond automatically to danger.