RailCorp to expand $4m data network contract

Mission-critical network no longer reliant on spare parts

RailCorp NSW will spend upwards of $4 million on maintenance and support for its two data networks over the next two years as its existing support contract expires in March.

RailCorp operates two data communications networks across 302 railway stations and more than 140 administrative and maintenance offices, supported by the internal ICT group.

In addition, railway communications rooms and station facilities are supported by RailCorp's Communications and Control Systems Group (C&CS), which provides service for the "train critical" data network.

RailCorp has a "mission critical dependency" on these networks and to achieve un-interrupted service as a transport operator "requires a highly reliable proactive maintenance support agreement so that equipment failures can be determined and quickly rectified".

The move comes as RailCorp looks for a services partner for its $3.6 billion train upgrade project.

RailCorp ICT group has a network maintenance contract with Netstar Australia, which is due to expire in March 2008.

The C&CS doesn't have a network maintenance contract, instead it relies on spare equipment in stock.

RailCorp has budgeted between $3.5 to $4.2 million for support contracts of both networks, including a renewal for the ICT group and a new contract for the C&CS group.

The contracts will cover data network equipment hardware and software maintenance and network support.

RailCorp's ICT network infrastructure is almost exclusively comprised of Cisco switches and routers, with a handful of other devices from Juniper, Nortel, F5, and servers running Linux being used as firewalls. Including spares, there are more than 400 Cisco devices in the network.

The C&CS network has 96 Cisco switches and a VoIP system comprised of HP Proliant DL380 servers running Cisco's CallManager software.

"RailCorp will only accept bids for Cisco maintenance and support from companies that are Cisco gold partners," according to one document.

"Preference may be given to companies who are able to provide maintenance on all the specified network equipment along with software support."

RailCorp may extend the initial two-year contract for a further 12 months or two years.

Netstar Australia has a number of contracts that don't expire with the remainder of the maintenance contract, and, according to RailCorp, the successful tenderer will be required to take up these contracts.