China is making massive investments in its passenger (and freight) rail service and infrastructure. An investment of $87.8 billion over two years, and $727 billion by 2020.
Within five years, China is going to have more high-speed rail than the rest of the world combined.
Logically, IBM is making China home to its new rail technology center. Building and efficiently managing the IT framework behind complex modern rail networks is hard work and serious money.
Robert Goodwin, a travel and transportation analyst at research firm Gartner, estimates that about 3% of worldwide rail spending will go to IT systems.
IBM has been a vendor of basic information technology systems to rail projects in China, including the recently finished high-speed rail connecting Beijing to the northeastern port city Tianjin. Its goal with the new innovation center is to expand its services to offer technology and business management consulting for railways.
Trains for America reports that American and international roadways have had efficiency experts scrutinizing them over and over for years. But the problems and opportunities in China are very unlike the problems and opportunities in other countries. In this, as in so many other ways, China is unique.