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Though it is now known worldwide as the location of the upcoming XXII Olympic Winter Games, this provincial Russian town has been a fashionable summer resort among Russians for many years. Stalin built his dacha in Sochi, and Khrushchev established it as the unofficial summer capital of the country. While times have changed, the reputation of this town has not. Millions of Russians still view Sochi as the finest family resort on the Black Sea.

During the past two years new infrastructure has dramatically changed the image of the city.  New stadiums have been built.  More up-scale housing has been developed. The new Siemens Desiro-Rus 'Lastochka' trains, the most important form of transportation in the region , will start accommodating over 7,000 passengers per hour once the 2014 Winter Olympics start.  Though the Olympics are months away, the train has already become the “star” of the Black Sea Shore. ‘Lastochka’ is a sleek, new high-speed train run by Russian Railways, the second largest network in the world and an Olympics sponsor.

Russian Railways is a huge contributor to the fast-growing Russian economy. It is responsible for 42.3 percent of Russia’s total freight traffic and over 32.7 percent of passenger traffic. The train trip from Moscow to Sochi used to take three days, but the ‘Lastochka’ journey takes only 19 hours. To remain a national leader of transportation, Russian Railways uses the latest technology to operate its multimillion-dollar empire and provide passengers with convenient train lines and accessible schedules all year round, whether they are traveling to Sochi in the south or all the way to the far eastern regions of the country.

Operating such a large-scale company is not easy—but software has enabled Russian Railways to remain a winner in the global market. For almost five years Russian Railways has used the SAP HANA platform to run its business more efficiently while increasing its customer base. In 2012 it became one of the three largest transportation companies in the world, with almost one million employees and assets worth over 3,190 billion rubles (US$97.5 billion). During this time of growth, SAP HANA has enabled Russian Railways to improve the flow of information to key decision makers. It now has access to real-time data as it operates over 52,941 miles of track across 11 time zones.

With SAP HANA the speed of database access improved from 117 to 0.35 seconds, which has had a huge impact on the company’s widespread operations. It was not easy to implement SAP HANA in such a large, complex organization. First, Russian Railways tested the product before making the dramatic operating change. “We wanted to provide Russian Railways the option of testing SAP HANA so they could really see how powerful the solution was,” said Tatyana Glukhareva, an SAP AvtiveEmbedded engineer.

Vladimir Pavlovsky, Russian Railways’ SAP technical quality manager, helped with the installation and team coordination. “Knowing their goals and constraints, we knew we had some challenges for the implementation. We mapped out a tailored plan that met their needs while taking into account the company’s situation,” said Pavlovsky.

In the end, SAP helped Russian Railways transform from a company known only for its vast reach to the model of efficiency and reliability. Millions of customers have a trust-worthy way of transportation 24/7, 85 of Russia’s 89 regions have rail service to most major cities, and new lines provide transportation to and from industrial areas and mineral deposits.  As the Olympics start, Russian Railways has a global stage to show the world its ability to offer safe trips, reliable schedules, and top-level service.

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