Interview

ICT Leads to Efficiency

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Satya Prakash
Additional Member (Tourism & Catering); Additional
Member(IT), Railway Board, Indian Railways

“Information Technology has brought immense benefit to millions of people who use Indian Railways for transportation and movement of goods. Ticketing has been taken to the doorstep of the customers. e-Ticketing is providing relief from long queues at the reservation offices,” says Satya Prakash

During the last few years we have seen lot of innovations happening in the area of ICT. What is your view of the ICT solutions that are being implemented by the Indian Railways?
Indian Railways has played a pioneering role in adoption of ICT for better delivery of service to the common citizens. Customer interfacing applications such as the Passenger Reservation System (PRS), Unreserved Ticketing System (UTS), National Train Enquiry System (NTES), and Freight Operation Information System (FOIS) etc., have been introduced with access to information through the websites on the Internet and through mobile phones. Further expansion of these projects in terms of geographical expansion and in terms of functionalities is planned and is likely to happen over the next few years. Various IT projects have been implemented for improving the efficiency and informationkeeping on the Indian Railways such as Control Office Application (COA), Crew Management System (CMS), Rates Branch Software (RBS), e-Procurement system (IREPS). Projects for maintenance of assets such as Track Management System, Integrated Coach Management System, Workshop Information System (WISE) are in advanced stage of implementation while some other such projects such as Freight Management Module(FMM), Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) of wagons for accurate accountal of wagons, Loco shed Management System (LMS) are being developed.

Center for Railway Information Systems

Center for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) was established at Chanakyapuri, New Delhi in 1986, with the aim of developing computerized systems for Passenger and Freight traffic segments on Indian Railways. The Vision of Indian Railways for IT is to reach a stage where all information needs of organization can be met by comprehensive information highway available to both internal and external stake holders and Improve personal productivity at all levels by effective use of technology.

Large amount of revenues that the Indian Railways is able to generate comes through the movement of freight. Tell us about the ICT initiatives that are being taken to ensure that there is more transparency and efficiency in freight movement department.
Freight Operation Information System (FOIS) has been implemented on Indian Railways for management of freight trains movement and the associated commercial activities. Some of the main features of the system are:
a. Implemented in two modules – Rake Management System (RMS) for handling the train operations and Terminal Management System (TMS) for commercial processes of goods traffic have been implemented.
b. Reporting and Monitoring equipments have been commissioned at more than 2000 locations.
c. Provides information about congested terminals as well as congested routes thus wagons can be diverted to non-congested destinations or moved through non-congested routes.
d. Enables monitoring of ‘Maintenance schedules’ of the locomotives on goods trains, which enables their efficient utilization and planning for their maintenance in advance.
e. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) of wagons for accurate accountal of wagons. A pilot project on 500 wagons was successfully carried out. Further expansion to cover 20,000 wagons has been sanctioned.
f. Rake Allotment System: Applications for allotment of empty wagons for Coal and Iron-ore loading have been started on pilot basis.

Lot of ICT implementation can be done to bring about improvement in the amenities that are being provided to the passengers in the railway stations. Please tell us about it.
ICT has been adopted on large scale for enabling convenient ticketing for passengers. The Passenger Reservation System and Unreserved Ticketing System have enabled advance booking of tickets for reserved and unreserved accommodation on passenger carrying trains. These projects have been expanded geographically to provide convenient and hassle-free ticketing at stations and some other convenient locations such as Post Offices, Municipal offices, District Collector’s offices, Schools, Colleges and Courts in towns and cities where Railways did not have presence of their own. The services of such organisations have also been utilised in cities where the railway facilities were felt to be inadequate. Further for reduction in queues for unreserved ticketing at stations approximately 1000 Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVMs) have been deployed across stations in and around major cities. Further approximately 1200 more are under procurement while 3600 more are planned for implementation.
ICT has been utilised to reduce pressure on the passenger amenities at the stations. The e-Ticketing through the internet has been started by IRCTC and it now handles approximately 45 percent of booking of reserved tickets. Seven Mobile Ticketing Vans have also been deployed in some cities (Delhi, Kolkata, Jaipur, Vapi, Anand, and Solapur) for taking ticketing to the doorstep of the customers. These Mobile ticketing Vans follow a predeclared itinerary and halt at select points in the urban and rural areas from where people can buy reserved tickets. Further 20 such Mobile ticketing Vans are being planned to be deployed all across the country.

Recently Indian Railways launched the initiative for booking tickets by SMS. What kind of response is this service seeing from the passengers? What other SMS based services are you planning to launch?
The booking of tickets by SMS was launched by IRCTC with the help of four service providers. On an average approximately 250 tickets/ day are being booked through this system. We expect it to increase as the awareness, about the facility, increases in the general public. Indian Railways has also planned to provide information to the passengers whenever the status of the waitlisted ticket changes.

ICT for Indian Railways

Indian Railways has implemented many projects which have impacted and improved the internal efficiency of the Indian Railways. Some of the projects are:

* Freight Operation Information System (FOIS) – It comprises of two modules namely Rake Management System (R.M.S) for handling the train operations and Terminal Management System (TMS) for commercial processes of goods traffic, Indian Railways’ core business. 246 locations are exclusively reporting for RMS module. TMS has been deployed at around 1871 terminals (including 224 weighbridge locations for capturing wagon weight data) on Indian Railways to issue online Railway Receipts (R.R.s). A pilot project for Radio Frequency identification of wagons, in place of manual data entry, was successfully carried out with 500 wagons on Talcher – Paradeep – Vishakhapatnam circuit and is now planned for expansion.

* Integrated Coach Management System (ICMS): An application for monitoring of punctuality of passenger carrying trains and availability of coaches. Punctuality Analysis and Monitoring (PAM) and Coaching Operations Information System (COIS) modules are being used extensively. The third module – Coach Maintenance Management is under implementation at three pilot locations.

* Control Office Application (COA): Application for data entry of the running of the trains by Section controllers. It enables better planning of trains by making the train movement on the adjacent sections of the adjoining divisions visible to the section controllers. It provides information to the other applications such the National Train Enquiry System (NTES), ICMS and F.O.I.S. at all divisional control offices.

* Crew Management System (CMS): Application for management of the booking of train crew (Drivers and guards). It enables better utilization of crew, calculation of their mileage bills and provides information to the crew through information kiosks. It has been implemented at 352 lobbies and is planned for remaining 200 crew lobbies. Breathalyzer (for checking drunkenness) / Biometric verification of the crew is planned and is under testing at 5 locations namely – Shakurbasti, Tughlakabad, Delhi, Ambala and Moradabad.

* Rolling Stock Maintenance (Wagons & Locomotives): Various applications are under different stages of development and implementation for management of the workshops (wagon maintenance) and loco sheds (maintenance of locomotives)

* Workshop Information System (WISE): An application for wagon repair shops which has been launched at Raipur wagon repair shop in August 2012.

* Freight Management Module (FMM): Project for maintenance of historical data of wagons, their critical components and availability of spare parts at workshops. It has been launched at Dadri and Dandarikalan workshops.

* Loco shed Management System (LMS): Application developed for Diesel Loco sheds. Pilot project is being implemented at 3 diesel sheds (Tughlakabad, Ludhiana & Alambag-Lucknow).

* Software for Locomotive Asset Management (SLAM): Application being developed for Electric Loco Sheds by CRIS (Center for Railway Information Systems, New Delhi).

* Track Management System: Application for managing Track Maintenance. It has been implemented on 28 divisions and is further planned for all the 68 divisions of Indian Railways.

* Hospital Management Information System (HMIS): Application for managing the Railway Hospitals being developed by CRIS. A pilot project has been sanctioned on Western Railway.

* Human Resource Management System (HRMS): Application to cover all aspects of personnel management being developed by CRIS. Pilot project is planned on North Western Railway.

* ERP at ICF Chennai: A turnkey project for Plant Maintenance, Manufacturing process and HR payroll. It has gone live at ICF Chennai.

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