The Ministry of Railways released a press statement outlining several new technologies being implemented in the Indian railway systems.
The Ministry said that Indian railways have always focussed on the adoption of new technologies to improve train operations and provide a more comfortable travelling experience to its passengers.
The release said among the new IT initiatives being employed is a Real Time Train Information System (RTIS) where GPS tracking devices will communicate using satellite technology. The trial rounds have been successful. Apart from this, data logger systems are already available in track circuited stations and are being used at major interchange points to capture arrival and departure information.
In an effort to digitise the transactions of the station master, a Computerised Train Signal Register is going live at 650 stations in the country. This device will transmit arrival and departure information to the Control Office Application (COA) and the National Train Enquiry System (NTES) directly from the station master’s desk.
The COA is a comprehensive software for the automation of control charting at the railway’s divisional control office.
Another initiative is Handheld Terminals (HHTs) that are provided to the Train Ticket Examiners (TTEs) to check the reserved coaches and allot the vacant berths. The HHT will also transmit information about available berths to the subsequent stations. It can access the ticketing application and collect excess fares as per railway rules. The terminal can potentially connect to a Point of Sale (POS) machine and the charges can be collected digitally.
Regarding the ticketing website, that is the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), the Ministry said that over the last four years, the capacity of the website has increased ten-fold. It is now being able to distribute 20,000 tickets per minute, that is up from 2,000 tickets per minute in 2014.
The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation is a subsidiary of the Indian Railways that manages the catering, tourism and online ticketing operations of the Indian railway system.
Apart from the increase in capacity, the entire user experience has been significantly improved. The Ministry launched a new interface with easier navigation and standard views that make for smoother and more efficient transactions. Several new features have been added that enable better planning and allow passengers to obtain confirmed tickets.
The Ministry has also introduced a method to book tickets through mobile phones. This has eliminated the need for passengers to stand in a queue to purchase tickets for unreserved compartments of the train. It works by delivering the ticket digitally to the customer’s phone, along with an embedded QR (quick response) code. This service has made booking tickets easier and more convenient for passengers.
The service was launched in December 2014 at Mumbai and has since been expanded to suburban sections of Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata among others. Around 400,000 people everyday book tickets through their phones.
The release also mentioned the Indian Railway’s official portal, that is the Indian Railways E-Procurement System (IREPS). The portal facilitates the procurement of goods, services, materials for sale, and the leasing of assets through e-tendering, e-auctions and reverse auctions.
The release said that the portal has helped to increase the transparency and efficiency of railway-related business transactions.