Train Control Upgrades Lead Railroad to Upgrade IBM i Systems
April 15, 2014 Alex Woodie
The Belt Railway Company of Chicago (BRC) has tapped OnX Enterprise Solutions (formerly Worknet) to provide business continuity and disaster recovery solutions for its IBM i-based applications, OnX announced recently. The adoption of the managed service provider (MSP)’s offerings is key to BRC’s transition to the positive train control system mandated by the government.
Railroads have until 2015 to implement positive train control (PTC), a new control system that’s being put in place for North American Class I freight railroads. Key to PTC is that the train receives information about its location and where it is allowed to safely travel, also known as movement authorities. Equipment on board the train then enforces this, preventing unsafe movement.
As part of the update to the new PTC system, BRC also bolstered its IT systems by increasing the resilience of its IBM i applications. According to OnX, it will manage BRC’s IT systems in its Chicago-area data center, while providing data redundancy and disaster recovery from a data center in Indianapolis.
Nick Chodorow, BRC’s senior director of information systems, says OnX managed services was critical to the upgrade. “Historically, technology in the rail industry has been managed with an informal ‘if it works, don’t touch it’ mentality, causing the IT systems’ devices and software to become antiquated and ill-prepared for the current demands of the business,” he says.
“As a result, the outdated IT infrastructure that these systems run on makes it difficult to provide users with the efficient user experiences they demand. OnX helped us modernize our systems for a more efficient and safer railway.”
The Belt Railway is the largest intermediate switching terminal railroad in the United States. According to BRC, it has 28 miles of mainline route with more than 300 miles of switching tracks, which allows it to interchange with every railroad serving the Chicago rail hub. The 400-person company dispatches more than 8,400 rail cars per day. Since just about every car going across the country ends up in Chicago, BRC’s Belt Railway is involved in many of these.
Worknet, an emerging MSP that we covered last April, was acquired in June by Toronto-based OnX Enterprise Solutions, which calls itself an “enterprise data center solutions provider.” OnX is owned by Marlin Equity Partners and claims to have $700 million in revenue with 600 employees.