Cloud deployment of Railways Management Systems to register highest CAGR

The trend of optimisation has spanned beyond the fields of electronics, technology and media, reaching key verticals in the transportation sector such as the railways. With the evolution of sensors and wireless connectivity, remote management of railways is becoming more accurate. Railways management systems are being developed on a range of new technologies that can potentially augment the operational performance of railways administration.

Considering how railways will remain to be the backbone of logistics, infrastructure, and the overall economy of a country, administrative authorities are expected to adopt railways management systems for bolstering this commodity. According to Future Market Insights, the global market railways management systems in anticipated to gain traction in terms of revenues over the period of next five years.

During this forecast period (2017-2022), advent of new and improved technologies and subsystems will continue to transform the efficiency of railways management systems. The report projects that by the end of 2022, the global market for railways management system will be worth nearly US$ 5 billion.

According to the report, North America is anticipated to represent the largest market for railways management systems. Robust railway infrastructure in the US, increasing interests of North American railway administration towards adoption of advanced technologies, and extended railway budgets will continue to factor the soaring adoption of railways management systems in this region through 2022.

Traffic planning solutions to make headway through 2022

On the basis of solutions facilitated through railways management systems & subsystems, the global market is anticipated to witness higher demand for traffic planning solutions. In 2017, close to one-third of revenues procured in the global railways management system market are anticipated to be accrued from the adoption of traffic planning solutions.

Advanced traffic management systems for railways are expected to enable local administration adapt to the changing traffic patterns of regional railways. Management and planning of narrow track traffic will continue to be a key concern for railways administration, especially in metropolitan environments.

Primarily, railway administrations are adopting fully-integrated railways management systems built around the operational plan of local, interstate and regional railways. The report further projects that adoption of track management systems will witness robust traction over the foreseeable future. These solutions are expected to provide better efficiency in management of high speed and conventional speed trains, as well as their long-hauling rolling stocks.

The demand for operation management systems is also expected to soar in the view of increasing incidence of train collisions due to operational flaws. By 2022-end, operation management systems sold across the globe are likely to bring in over US$ 1.1 billion in revenues.

Cloud deployment of railways management system to register highest CAGR

On-premise deployment of railways management system is anticipated to bring in nearly US$ 2 billion in global revenues by the end of 2017. In the approaching years, however, several railway administrations across the globe are likely to deploy railways management system through cloud-based networking models.

For improving compliance of railways management systems across integrated platforms, cloud deployment will be viewed as the best option. Moreover, real-time management and active notification systems will be working more effectively through cloud deployment of railways management systems. Through 2022, global revenues procured from cloud deployment of railways management systems are anticipated to register highest CAGR of 13.2%.

Tracking the competitors in global railways management system market

The report observes that companies namely, Hitachi, Ltd., Cisco Systems, Inc., IBM Corporation, ABB Limited, Thales S.A., General Electric Co., Toshiba Corporation, Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd., GAO RFID, and Amadeus IT Group, S.A will remain active in expansion of global railways management systems market through 2022.

Key developers of railways management systems are expected to focus on full integration and adoption of advanced sensors & monitoring tools. These companies will be compelled to offer comprehensive railways management systems, ones that adapt to every kind of railway traffic density, and across underground lines and conventional railways.

About Future Market Insights: Future Market Insights is the premier provider of market intelligence and consulting services, serving clients in over 150 countries. FMI is headquartered in London, the global financial capital, and has delivery centres in the U.S. and India.

FMI’s research and consulting services help businesses around the globe navigate the challenges in a rapidly evolving marketplace with confidence and clarity. Our customised and syndicated market research reports deliver actionable insights that drive sustainable growth. We continuously track emerging trends and events in a broad range of end industries to ensure our clients prepare for the evolving needs of their consumers.

FMI’s team of over 200 research analysts provides market intelligence at global, regional, and country level. Our analysts are committed to provide independent insights, relying on our cognitive defusion training module, which conditions them to look at data objectively and unbiasedly.

ECOR to install Wi-Fi in small stations through Universal Services Obligation Fund

BHUBANESWAR: The Railway Board has recently approved the provision of installing free Wi-Fi hotspots at 200 rural and remote stations across the country through Universal Services Obligation Fund (USOF) of the Centre. RailTel, a company under the ministry of railways, will carry out the project. USOF, which comes under department of telecommunications, has an objective to provide widespread and non-discriminatory access to quality ICT (information and communications technology) services to people in rural and remote areas.

Stations like Malatipatpur, Sakhigopal, Birapurusottampur, Delang, Motori, Retang, Mancheswar, Barang, Gopalpur, Balikuda and other small stations under the jurisdiction of the East Coast Railway (ECoR) will be provided with free Wi-Fi service through the USOF project.

These stations will get high speed internet facility like Bhubaneswar, Puri and Visakhapatnam. Passengers passing the stations and local people can enjoy the free Wi-Fi facility at these stations. Target for completion of the project is March 2018.

Umesh Singh, ECoR General Manager, has reviewed the progress of Wi-Fi services in different stations and asked all concerned officials to expedite the new work.

The zone has already installed Wi-Fi services at small stations like Keonjhargarh, Paradeep, Tikiri and Bissamcuttack with the help of local industries, corporate houses and social organisations. The zone had decided on its own to request some corporate houses to invest their CSR fund to provide the service at some rural stations. This fund will boost their plan, said a senior railway officer.

Besides this, the ECoR has already installed Wi-Fi hotspots at all A1 category stations like Bhubaneswar and A category stations like Cuttack of the ECoR.

Digital Adoption: Railways’ revenue through Digital Payment up 12%

NEW DELHI: The Indian railways on Tuesday reported a rise of over 12 per cent in its cashless revenue stream generated from the reserved segment of e-tickets till August, 2017 from the period of 2016-17.

The massive rise in cashless revenue stream from the reserved segment category was attributed to various steps initiated by the railways, a railway ministry official said.

“The cashless revenue from reserved segment (e-ticket) has increased from 62.55 per cent in 2015-16 and 64.76 per cent in 2016-17 to around 76 per cent till August 28, 2017,” a railway ministry official said.

“The online booked ticket constitute to about 64.5 per cent of total tickets (till August 28, 2017).”

According to the railways, about 13 lakh tickets are booked every day against a reserved accommodation of 10.5 lakh berths across all classes.

The official added that even in the unreserved tickets segment the income through digital payment has gone up by two per cent.

“The railways sold about 6.5 per cent unreserved tickets by August 2016, which has now gone up to 8.99 per cent till September 30, 2017,” he said.

Even in the freight segment, the revenue from cashless mode increased from 97 per cent to 99.8 per cent.

Digital payment in booking tickets in railways was promoted after Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8 last year announced to scrap Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes to curb “black money and corruption”.

In a slew of measures to promote digital payment, the railways had on November 23, 2016 withdrawn the service charges from tickets booked through the Indian Rail Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).

The railway official also said the service has been extended till March 31, 2018.

After demonetisation, the railways had withdrawn the service charge of Rs 30 applicable on transactions against credit or debit cards at the reservation counters.

To promote digital payment, Indian Railways also provided a discount of 0.5 per cent on season tickets purchased digitally.

Beside these, the railways also provided a discount of five per cent on payment made online for opting services like ordering food, booking retiring room.

The railways and the IRCTC also slashed all additional charges being levied either by the Indian Railways or IRCTC on e-tickets.

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When a gamla helped book a rail ticket: Reminiscences of Sanjoy Mookerjee, Retd.FC

KOLKATA: November 7 marks the 30th year of the digitisation of railway ticket reservation in the Calcutta area by the Indian Railways. The decision to digitise the ticketing process, the most important step taken by the railways in recent history, led to the development of one of the largest commercial networks of computer hardware, software and databases the modern world has ever seen.

SANJOY MOOKERJEE, retired Financial Commissioner, Railway Board, who was part of the project, remembers.

On July 17, 1986, I joined the Passenger Reservation System (PRS) project in Calcutta as system manager (operation). I was given a hero’s welcome and realised that my joining the project had enabled the Eastern Railway to convince the Railway Board that this pet project of then Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, and the minister of state for railways, independent charge, Madhavrao Scindia, had finally taken off at Calcutta.

Only one other officer had been posted to the project. We began to take the first faltering steps towards developing one of the largest commercial networks of computer hardware, software and databases the modern world has ever seen. Very soon, other senior officials and staff members joined this elite project.

Today, after three decades, when the Passenger Reservation System has evolved into the Unified Ticketing Network, the Indian Railways handles 2.2 crore passengers every day — the population of Australia! The network is accessible through the web from all corners of the globe.

The first challenge

The first challenge was to draw up the cost estimate and the technical specifications for a global tender. We needed a system to handle a minimum of 200 networked terminals with an assured response time of 3 to 5 seconds for every hit. The minimum clock speed of the CPU needed to be stipulated in the tender papers.

It was 1986. The team was hardly equipped with technical knowledge. We didn’t have the benefit of the Internet; nor the versatility of MS-Office. We toiled through literature from various software houses such as IBM, HP and ICL, and from CSI (Computer Society of India), to compute that magic figure.

Working late into the night, sometimes by candlelight (those were the days of “load-shedding” in Calcutta), we finally “cracked the code” — the minimum clock speed of the CPU would be of 4 million instructions per second.

The global tender of Rs 20 crore was floated and awarded to M/S CMC Ltd, a PSU, in a record two months.

Metamorphosis

The infrastructure of the computer centre, the six main reservation offices and six satellite offices were built at breakneck speed. Over 7,000 programs in FORTRAN 77 were to be written and the database of hundreds of thousands of commercial data, rules and regulations were to be populated. A tall order!

It was at that juncture that we first heard the word PNR (Passenger Name Record) Number, the unique identity for each reservation transaction. Today, this is a household word.

A team of motivated officers and officials from Eastern and South Eastern railways worked day and night to ensure the live run of the system on June 30, 1987.

‘Firing’ by night

Every evening, as soon as the reservation offices in Calcutta shut, began the nocturnal uploading of reservation data into the computer system. Our target would be to “fire” (the jargon used for uploading into the database) at least one new train a day (rather night), till 6am, irrespective of duty hours. This went on for over nine months, by which time all the originating trains of Eastern and South Eastern Railway were loaded onto the PRS and manual reservation was fully eliminated.

Launch & a gamla

Naturally, we were hoping for a grand inauguration. But alas, due to the busy schedule of the minister of state for railways, computerised reservation started at Calcutta without any formal programme. Everyone was disappointed.

Later, however, Madhavrao Scindia was to formally inaugurate the Calcutta project on November 7, 1987. Elaborate arrangements were made at the newly renovated reservation office at the New Koilaghat Building.

But at the last moment the minister, because of paucity of time, decided to inaugurate the system at Howrah station and proceed to New Delhi by the Rajdhani Express.

The project team was struck by lightning. There was no facility for data connectivity to Howrah then. The venue was the site of the new Howrah station building, under construction and with no roof.

Temporary reservation counters got built at breakneck speed, but our greatest hurdle was to provide data communication across the river Hooghly between Calcutta and Howrah. The imported antennae for digital communication in PRS were yet to arrive; there were no spare antennae with Eastern Railway.

It was time to innovate. One of the signal and telecommunication engineers procured a gamla (a dish-shaped aluminium bowl) and reengineered it to form an antenna. This dish was fixed on the roof of the Howrah divisional office and, after strenuous efforts, effective line-of-site data transmission was made possible.

The minister would never know that he purchased his ticket for the Rajdhani Express with the help of an aluminium gamla that cost less than Rs 10.

ECOR to tie-up with Corporate Houses for Wi-Fi services at small stations

BHUBANESWAR: East Coast Railway (ECoR) is planning to provide free Wi-Fi at some small stations like Damanjodi and Tikiri with the help of corporate houses and public sector undertakings (PSUs). Local students and youths (mostly belong to small towns and rural areas) will get benefit of the service, said ECoR sources.

The Railways has a provision to provide Wi-Fi services to A1, A and B category stations. “But there is no such policy to provide this facility in small stations. So the ECoR has decided to make some small stations Wi-Fi enabled with the help of local industries and business houses for the benefit of the locals,” said ECoR chief public relations officer JP Mishra.

Presently, A1 category stations, Bhubaneswar, Puri and Visakhapatnam, and A category stations like Cuttack, Khurda Road, Sambalpur and Vizianagaram have Wi-Fi facility. The Railways has started process to provide Wi-Fi facilities to B category stations like Paradeep, Balugaon, Chatrapur and Bargarh Road.

The ECoR has identified some stations under the jurisdiction of three railway divisions- Khurda Road, Waltair and Sambalpur. These stations are-Mancheswar, Barang, Kendujhargarh, Jakhapura, Talcher Road, Chilika, Bhawanipatna, Lanjigarh, Ambadola, Singapur Road, Bissamcuttack, Hirakud, Badmal, Jeypore, Jharsuguda Road, Tikiri, Damanjodi, Kottavalasa, Kirandul and Garividi.

All these stations are situated near different industries and corporate houses. The corporate houses can provide fund from their corporate social responsibilities (CSR) fund to provide these facilities in the stations, said the ECoR official sources.

Besides, the corporate houses and PSUs, the local volunteer or social organisations can also sponsor the project. “Even individuals like MLAs and MPs and business persons are welcomed to tie up with us,” said Mishra.

As per the procedure, the zonal railways will install the Wi-Fi hardware at the station, while monthly recurring cost to the telecom provider will be sponsored by the organization.

ECoR has already installed a Wi-Fi system at Bissamcuttack station in Rayagada district. Testing of the service is underway. Four local organisations have come forward to sponsor the project in the station, official sources said.

“If any corporate house interested to provide this service at their nearest stations, they can contact the concerned divisional railway manager of the railway division,” said Mishra.

Railways bags Award for 100% e-Procurement and 100% e-Auction in a secure, transparent and easy manner

The Vice President of India awards Ministry of Railways for creation of an IT-enabled organization-wide infra in Railway tendering and contractual matters.

NEW DELHI: The Vice-President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu awarded Ministry of Railways, for outstanding contribution in IT initiative for Transparency in the organization, for creation of an IT enabled organization wide infrastructure in railway tendering and contractual matters to enhance transparency and clarity in processes, today (i.e.30th October, 2017) at Vigyan Bhavan. Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region (I/C), Prime Minister’s Office, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh, Cabinet Secretary, Shri P K Sinha, Chief Vigilance Commissioner, Shri K V Chowdary, and other dignitaries were present on the occasion. The award was received by Shri Rajaram Prasad (GM/MMIS/CRIS).

This award programme at Vigyan Bhawan was organised by Central Vigilance Commission as a part of Inaugural function of Vigilance Awareness Week-2017.

As a result of this IT initiative, Railways has been able to achieve 100% e-tendering for procurement and 100% e-auction for disposal of scrap in a secure, transparent and easy manner, with information and status accessibility to all the stakeholders at the click of a button. This has substantially mitigated the risk of corruption involved in these areas, simultaneously providing the environment of Transparency, Ease of doing business and Fair Business Practice.

Indian Railways’ e-procurement portal (IREPS) is the largest e-procurement platform in India handling almost 2/3rd of the total Government tenders. During financial year 2016-17, IREPS has successfully handled 3.36 Lakh e-tenders. IREPS successfully handled e-Auctions for 31726 lots (2638 catalogues) during 2016-17. It has over 67,900 registered vendors, over 2,800 registered bidders and over 10,000 railway users.

95% of all the applications run on Indian Railways were designed, developed and successfully commissioned by Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) – an IT Arm of Indian Railways.

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Chinese Wireless Router Hacks Indian Railway’s IRCTC Website

A pack of hackers have spread their wings across the entire country, bringing down many important websites for gaining publicity or making a quick buck. Only recently the website to have been attacked by them is none other than that of the Indian Railways.

Railways Protection Force (RPF) holds that the main hacker is extremely clever, who has sound technological knowledge, otherwise it was extremely difficult to hack a site with such a full-proof security plan as that IRCTC has put in  place.  The investigation being conducted has led RPF to arrest a ticket broker from Durg, who was in possession of some Chinese hacking equipment.

During interrogation, the hacker cum ticket broker admitted how easily he could book tickets within just 10 minutes of the booking website opening up. He also revealed that they used to load all the data into a specific software, with the help of which they could get confirmed tickets by making use of Fake IDs.

The RPF investigation says that the hackers used to create Fake IDs on private ticket booking platforms registered with IRCTC. With the help of this, they used to hack the IRCTC website for few minutes daily and book confirmed tickets. Not just to book tickets to and from Raipur, but the hackers would break into the entire data of confirmed tickets for all of Eastern Railways.

Despite the failure of IRCTC to secure their ticket booking portal, higher Railway officials are  unwilling to take responsibility about the frequent breaches made into the so called ‘full proof’ software. This is not the first time that the site has been hacked but the officials are in denial mode. It was only after the secret investigation department of RPF came out with a reports about the vulnerability of the website to hacking that the matter has come out in the public.

RPF has directed the railway officials of Bhilai and Raipur to further investigate the matter and get the wireless routers checked by experts, however, the officials have still not been able to appoint any specialist to do a security audit. It may be noted that these are not just simple WiFi routers, but they have been helping hackers break in for quiet some time and the China made routers are allegedly helping in exposing the website to web criminals.

NTES leaves passengers’ stranded at Railway Stations

Trikaripur: The Indian Railways’ real-time train tracking mobile application, National Train Enquiry System, is allegedly giving out misinformation leaving many passengers who relied on the app stranded at train stations.

On Tuesday, the app showed that Malabar Express via Mangaluru, was running late by 30 minutes. But the train was on time and the passengers who believed the app missed the train. On another occasion, the application falsely showed that Mangaluru-Chennai Express and Kannur Passenger train have not begun their journey from the origin station while both trains were keeping time.

The app launched in 2014 by CRIS, features information on expected arrival and departure timings of a particular train and its real-time position.

Railways to tap into Telecom Dept fund to bankroll WiFi in 200 Small Stations

The move is part of Indian Railways’ plans to get all its 7,500-odd stations hooked to a countrywide free WiFi ecosystem in a phased manner. The synergy with the USO funds of the Department of Telecom will help Railways defray part of its costs from the fund meant to provide for connectivity to rural and remote areas.

NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways has decided to tap into the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) of the Department of Telecom to bankroll Wi-Fi connectivity in 200 small railway stations in India. Thus far, the Railways have only managed to connect a few big railway stations with Wi-Fi but find it difficult to get sustainable financial support for smaller stations.

Railways is in talks with the Department of Telecom to bankroll Wi-Fi connectivity in 2,000 other small stations from USOF as part of the NDA government’s internet-for-all initiative through the free-Wi-Fi-at-stations project.

The move is part of Indian Railways’ plans to get all its 7,500-odd stations hooked to a countrywide free Wi-Fi ecosystem in a phased manner. The synergy with the USO funds of the Department of Telecom will help Railways defray part of its costs from the fund meant to provide for connectivity to rural and remote areas.

The USOF is generated through a Universal Access Levy (UAL) — a prescribed percentage of the revenue earned by telecom licencees — and is statutority mandated to provide for information-and-communication technology connectivity to uncovered areas. Funding connectivity needs at smaller stations fits the statutory mandate of the USO fund, officials suggested.

With competing financial demands from safety to modernisation to capacity expansion in the Indian Railways, the financial support from USO fund could be a boon for the national transporter, since station WiFi is a pet project pushed by PM Narendra Modi in all meetings. There has been little progress beyond the bigger stations in this regard as the Railways has been struggling to secure viable financial support for it to cover all its smaller stations.

In this context, sources said that of the 200 stations for which the DoT has given sanction, 144 are E-category stations, in remote areas where Railways’ annual commercial earnings are less than Rs 50 lakh from each station. A station’s commercial earnings are from train ticket sales from windows, platform tickets, parcels, etc. The transporter categorises its stations based on their annual commercial earnings.

While RailTel, the telecom PSU owned by Railways, partnered with Google to set up free high-speed Wi-Fi at 400 of the busiest stations in the country, the project appeared stuck for want of a workable revenue model for stakeholders at the smaller stations. Officials suggested that by using USO money for the project, the government could have worked out a viable solution.

Railways officials highlighted the challenge in covering smaller stations. For example, officials monitoring the project suggest that for Google, the minimum threshold is 10 million subscribers per month in each station using its Wi-Fi.

Western Railway plans to restrict free Wi-Fi at suburban stations to prevent overcrowding

Free Wi-Fi at suburban railway stations in Mumbai contributes to overcrowding, the Western Railway said in an audit report. The railways is planning to restrict the frequency of free internet to decongest railway stations. This comes a month after the stampede at Elphinstone Road railway station in September, which claimed 23 lives.

The audit report mentions that non-commuters also stand at foot overbridges and railway stations to use the free Wi-Fi while some use the internet to watch pornography. “Hence, it is recommended that the availability of Wi-Fi should be restricted to main concourse hall, and not extended to all platforms or foot overbridges,” media quoted the audit report as saying. “A provision shall also be made to switch off the Wi-Fi at night.”

Free Wi-Fi is available at 15 stations across the Western Railway, including Mumbai Central, Dadar, Bandra, Andheri and Khar Road. “We have already sent the recommendations to the board, and it is a matter of a day or two before we get the green signal,” Chief Public Relations Officer (WR) Ravindra Bhakar told.

Apart from restricting Wi-Fi, the authorities may also consider clearing unwanted structures, toilet blocks and food stalls to allow for easier movement at stations. Vendors and hawkers carrying luggage may also be restricted from stations during peak hours in the morning and evening.

Prabhu’s revenue ideas to be tweaked by Goyal – Revised policy could increase contract tenure to 20 years

NEW DELHI: The plan chalked out by Suresh Prabhu as Railway Minister to garner Rs 15,000 crore as revenues over the next 10 years through a rail display network (RDN), enabling real-time information to passengers, has been delayed with the new minister, Piyush Goyal, planning to change the terms of the contract.

This comes even as bids under the earlier policy were to open this month.

According to officials close to the development, Goyal wants to increase the contract period under a revised policy from 10 years to 20 years.

This project was to create one of the largest connected digital networks of the world. In addition to this, the Railways is planning to tweak the norms of other non-fare revenue initiatives taken by Prabhu, such as Content on Demand (COD) and Out of Home (OOH) advertising. This would imply that non-fare initiatives taken during Prabhu’s tenure early this year would be reworked.

Goyal has reworked Prabhu’s Rs 1-lakh-crore station redevelopment plan and Rs 5,000-crore “One-ICT” project.

The decision to change RDN contract terms was taken after a meeting with the stakeholders and railways subsidiary RailTel last week.

The bids were supposed to be opened on October 20, officials said. Following the meeting, RailTel asked the railways to change the contract period for a high-tech centralised network of 200,000 screens across 2,000 stations.

Apart from providing real time information to passengers, the aim of the system is to unlock advertising potential.

“The bids for RDN and COD were supposed to be opened last week. But the change in policy will further delay the process by six to eight months,” said a person close to the development. This may lead to a fall in the expected revenues during the current financial year.

Followed by the initiatives taken by Prabhu, the railways’ non-fare revenue had increased by 72 per cent from Rs 5,928 crore in 2015-16 to Rs 10,181 crore in 2016-17. This was expected to increase by another Rs 5,000 crore in this fiscal year.

“The average annual income for the railways is expected to be approximately Rs 1,000 crore,” the official added. According to the plan, there would be centralised control of about 200,000 Digital Display Screens (LED pixel screens and LCD screens) of different types, sizes and shapes.

The project is estimated to cost around Rs 2,000 crore. The bidding process kicked off in April this year, with RailTel being the nodal agency.

According to industry experts, the logic of changing norms was not expected as the railways initiated the bidding process after a detailed study by KPMG in this regard.

Moreover, four media groups — MIC Electronics, Zee Media Corporation, Prabhatam Advertising Ltd, and Direct News Ltd — had conducted a trial of the concept at stations such as Gwalior, Jaipur, Old Delhi, and Gorakhpur. “Demand was there, unlike the station redevelopment plan. A majority of display network techniques get outdated after five to six years, hence 20 years may be a long period,” said an industry expert.

On the other hand, COD services were for providing video content on 1,300 premium trains in the initial phase.

The railways has estimated clocking Rs 34,350 crore from non-fare revenue. This includes Rs 14,250 crore from RDN, Rs 6,000 crore from COD and rail radio, Rs 3,750 crore from integrated mobile applications for advertising, cab services, etc, and Rs 3,750 crore for the Out of Home initiative.

Railway Board wind up ambitious Rs.5000-crore One ICT Project and the Transformation Cell

NEW DELHI: Railway Minister Piyush Goyal is changing the tracks set by his predecessor, Suresh Prabhu. After overhauling the Rs 1-lakh crore station redevelopment plan, Goyal has now spiked two pet schemes and directorates set up by his predecessor.

The Railway Board has decided to wind up the ambitious Rs 5,000-crore One ICT (information, communication and technology) plan and the transformation cell.

Prabhu had set up four directorates during his tenure as the railway minister — mobility, non-fare revenue, One ICT and the transformation cell.

The One ICT directorate was created to set up an integrated software that would have brought various functions of the Railways — such as passenger reservation, movement of goods trains, asset management and the entire functional requirements of the national transporter — under one roof.

The transformation cell directorate was mandated with the implementation of 55 new ideas that had originated at the Rail Vikas Shivir, held in November last year, where rail employees shared their visionary ideas in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“The railway board has decided to shut ICT and merge the transformation cell with mobility,” confirmed a railway official. Officials said the new minister was of the opinion that these areas were already being covered by other directorates, including non-fare revenue and mobility, and there was no requirement for a separate department.

Prabhu had set up the ICT directorate with a view that an organisation like the railways, which posted a revenue of Rs 1,65,068 crore in 2016-17, should spend a considerable amount of money on information, communication and technology. The railway information technology expenditure was only Rs 336 crore in 2016-17, which was scaled up to Rs 513 crore in the 2017-18.

The Rs 5,000-crore One ICT software was supposed to be implemented over five years using digital technology. It was to ensure better connectivity of goods and services with the market and efficient internal management to ensure customer satisfaction.

Revamping the railways, Goyal had earlier decided to cancel the bidding process for 23 stations for redevelopment owing to tepid interest shown by construction companies.

He had also wound up the Swiss challenge mode for redevelopment (under which a public authority asks for a bid, and publishes it for third parties to match or top it), which was mooted by Prabhu.

Such changes in policies are normal when there is a change in government. But railway officials are experiencing this situation for the first time when only the minister has been changed.

“For Goyal, the priority is implementation of schemes in a quick pace. He is giving additional emphasis on renewal of tracks and safety and has instructed the Railway Board to allot the required money for each division in this regard,” said another official.

Indian Railways to launch a new web-based procurement system soon

NEW DELHI: To bring transparency in Railway tendering process, Indian Railways will soon launch a new web-based procurement system under which will empanel new vendors.

The total procurement bill of Indian Railways is around Rs 50,000 crore. All queries raised by prospective bidders will be addressed on the web-based platform, instead of sending it directly to prospective bidders.

A rail board notification issued last week said: “To bring in more transparency in reply to various queries raised by prospective bidders during tendering process, it has been decided that no response to the query will be sent to prospective bidders directly. instead, the query and the response will be posted on the web platform.”

Railway minister Piyush Goyal held a meeting recently with the rail board member on making the award of Railway work contracts more transparent and also to ensure that the Railway doesn’t over pay the material that’s supplied. The minister also decided to empanel new vendors to the list of suppliers.

CyberSecurity4Rail Conference in Brussels agrees need for closer Cooperation & Steps towards an EU-wide rail sector

Last week’s CyberSecurity4Rail conference, held in Brussels for senior members of the rail industry and information security experts, has strongly endorsed the formation of a sector-driven pan-European Rail ISAC (Information Sharing and Analysis Centre). Conference speakers and delegates heard wide-ranging debate on how to effectively combat cyber-crime and cyber-attack and the panel sessions revealed a strong consensus for a structured approach to co-operation in the future.

The conference, held in Brussels on 4th October, was attended by over 120 experts from the railway, IT and cybersecurity industries. Sponsored and hosted by Hit Rail B.V., specialists in the provision of secure cross border connectivity and interoperability solutions in the railway sector, it provided a platform for speakers, panellists and conference participants to be able to consider the current cyber security landscape, legislative responses within the EU and how the railway industry can cooperate to respond more effectively.

It also formed the basis for conference participants to be able to consider and debate on their support for the proposal for a EURail-ISAC and how this might be set up with the support of organisations such as ENISA (European Network and Information Security Agency). Discussions also centred around how this might be combined with initiatives in physical safety such as the Rail Common Occurrence Reporting System coordinated by ERA (European Union Agency of Railways), under an umbrella of shared concerns.

Antonio Lopez, General Manager of conference organisers Hit Rail B.V., said: “With so many senior representatives of rail bodies and experts in cyber security in one place at the same time, it made sense to discuss solutions on how best to cooperate. The speakers’ presentations, panel discussions and post-conference survey results revealed that most attendees were in favour of joint efforts and a common objective to maintain a cyber-secure Single European Railway Area (SERA) through the creation of an EU-wide ISAC.”

The discussions were in response to the adoption in July 2016 by the European Parliament of a Directive on security of Network and Information Systems (the NIS Directive). This Directive requires Member States to designate National CSIRTs (Computer Security Incident Response Teams), which are also known as CERTs (Computer Emergency Response Teams). It also created a European cooperation group (EU-CSIRT Network), supported by ENISA, which will facilitate exchange of information between CSIRTs/CERTs concerning incidents within Member States and cross-border incidents.

The NIS Directive emphasises the need for operators of essential services and digital service providers to take appropriate security measures and to notify serious incidents to the relevant national authority (relevant CSIRT/CERT) when cyber security threats or breaches occur.

The CyberSecurity4Rail conference was an ideal occasion for progress to be made. The wide-ranging conference programme included presentations from senior representatives from across the industries, including representatives from two EU Directorates concerned with cyber security, Carlos Mestre-Zamarreño of DG-MOVE, and Dr Florent Frederix of DG-CONNECT. Speakers also included security expert Corrado Giustozzi of SELTA SpA, Dr Josef Doppelbauer from ERA, Dr Libor Lochman from the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), Marie-Hélène Bonneau from the International Union of Railways (UIC), as well as Rossella Mattioli from ENISA and many senior information security officers from railway organisations and related industries. Hit Rail’s Technical Director Mick Haynes also gave a detailed presentation covering secure networks for collaborative services, and how a VPN can ensure secure traffic through segmentation of sensitive data away from other channels.

In his closing keynote, Carlo Borghini, Director of Shift2Rail concluded that the conference had been very constructive and he encouraged the attendees to take away the messages on how to collaborate together in practical ways, reducing replication and divergence, sharing innovation and combatting cyber threats.

Antonio Lopez, General Manager of Hit Rail, concluded: “We are delighted with the success of this conference. Demand for places meant we had to hire a bigger venue and we had an almost full house with 120 attendees on the day, demonstrating how important this topic has become for the industry. During the conference we made excellent progress, more than we as facilitators of the conference could have envisaged when we set out the initial concept. I am very encouraged by the spirit of cooperation and determination to combat the risks and fight back against the threats we all face in cyber security.”

CyberSecurity4Rail is the third in a series of workshops that Hit Rail has held for the railway industry. For more information on the conference and its outcomes please visit our website at: https://www.hitrail.com/events/cyber-security-for-railways-conference-2017

Press enquiries Hit Rail:
Sheila Lashford
Tel: +44 (0) 7986 514240
sheila.lashford@hitrail.com

About Hit Rail B.V.
Hit Rail B.V. is a private Dutch company created in 1990 and owned by 12 European railway companies. Its purpose is to help European railway companies to carry out international projects in related fields of data communications and information technology. Hit Rail is responsible for managing secure international private data communications infrastructure and message brokering services on behalf of its shareholders and customers. Its services are used by some 50 railway companies from 21 countries. All Hit Rail customers’ data centres and company networks are interconnected by a pan-European secure IP-based VPN (Virtual Private Network) named Hermes VPN, which is supplied by British Telecom (BT) and managed by Hit Rail. In 2013, the company launched its HEROS platform as a family of solutions that delivers benefits to the railway companies across Europe, by enabling message interoperability across disparate platforms between railway applications in passenger, freight and infrastructure for IT communications.

For more information please visit http://www.hitrail.com or send an email to info@hitrail.com

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College Students from Bangalore offer IoT-based solution for unmanned Railway crossings

The team from CMR Institute of Technology, Bengaluru, aims to reduce railway accidents through IOT

BENGALURU: At a time when train accidents are becoming frequent, six students from CMR Institute of Technology, Bengaluru, have suggested a cost-effective way to the Indian Railways to eliminate accidents at unmanned level crossings.

The project – an Internet of Things-based (IoT) multi-tier system – is currently under the railway ministry’s consideration. The system is based on three types of sensors and was presented at the Smart India Hackathon 2017, organized by the central government in April.

“We have given an alternative idea of eliminating unmanned railway crossings across India. It’s an automated IoT-based multi-tier system based on sensors. This will buttress the security system of the railways and remove human errors,” explained Ishaan Abhinav, a third-year student and member of team Gamma, which came up with the model.

The model operates on three sensors – radio-frequency identification (RFID) sensor, pressure sensor and optical sensor – to be placed at different points from the crossing. The pressure and optical sensors are triggered by the weight and appearance of trains, respectively.

As soon as the train passes through the RFID sensor located 2.7km from the crossing, an alarm and light system will be activated to signal road users to stop. As the train approaches the pressure sensor – to be placed at 1.75km from the crossing – it’s time for the gates to close. By the time the train reaches the optical sensor, placed 1.5km from the crossing, the gates will shut automatically.

“The project doesn’t end here. It is often seen that when barricades come down, many walker try to cross the track by slipping underneath. To prevent this, we have added barbed wires to the barricades,” said Malvika Vinay, another team member and a third-year engineering student.

The project was readied in two-and-a-half weeks by the team whose members include Madhusoodhanan K M, Adhitya Niranjan, Misha P and Rainy Jain. The students from computer science and mechanical engineering streams were mentored by Sudhir Routray, Sharmila K P and Rahul Nyamangoudar.

“We went till the final round of the hackathon. The PM addressed us and spoke about the problems faced by the Railways,” said Madhusoodanan.

Said professor Sharmila, head of the department for telecommunication: “It’s a low-budget solution for railways as these sensors don’t require much power or battery to run till about four to five years. We are now making changes in the project as suggested by the Ministry of Railways.”

Indian Railways to eliminate unmanned level crossings within a year

In a bid to reduce the accidents, the Railway Ministry on Sunday has decided to take measures to eliminate all unmanned level crossings in the country within a year.

A decision was taken in this regard after Union Minister of Railways and Coal Piyush Goyal reviewed the performance of Southern Railway and ICF at a meeting held here.

During the meeting, the Minister also asked his department authorities to ensure that Indian Railways provide the best service with speed and safety.

Southern railway sources here said that the earlier target was to eliminate unmanned level crossings in three years, but by using the transformative mantra of “Speed, Skill and Scale”, this target has to be completed within one year now.

The Railway Minister said steps were taken to conserve electricity through large scale implementation of LED lighting facilities at railway stations, railway premises including railway quarters under UJALA programme of the union government.

Similarly, he said railway officials should take measures in water conservation, plastic disposal as a part of Green India mission of government.

Smart Governance for Railways with cutting-edge Cloud Tech

HYDERABAD: Over the coming days, logging on to the South Central Railways’ website to get the train schedule or any other information will be a better experience.

Railway authorities are formulating an action plan in sync with the `rail cloud’ policy drawn up by the railway board. RailTel Corporation, an enterprise under the central government, is implementing the proposed technology , which will reduce the burden on railway coffers by optimizing the server management under the zone.

According to the sources, railway authorities are running the existing IT applications through several servers and this leads to an inflation of cost in the IT segment. The railway website will be better maintained and people will be updated with all latest information that will cut down on the hassle of turning up at railway offices with a query.

“Once all the departments are integrated through the cloud computing technology , the cost of maintaining IT applications will come down. In cloud, server resources constantly go up or down, given the number of users who have logged on to the system.This will ensure a better experience,” said a senior official, whose name is being withheld as per the railway policy.

The railway board asked the heads of all zones to send their views on the new policy by September 25 if they want any change in it.

Following the draft of the policy being sent to the general managers of all zones, director of all centralized training institutes and chief managing director of RailTel Corporation of India, Gurugram, the railways are going to install cloud computing for ICT applications.

“The exception of the policy shall be in rare circumstance when an alternative ICT deployment strategy is essentially required for railways,” the policy draft stated.

Migration of data and applications will enhance the availability of information.

“The existing applications will be migrated to the cloud through proper mapping. The new system will be equipped with the safety measures laid down by the government recently . The performance of rail cloud will be assessed through service level agreements.

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Visakhapatnam City railway station goes 100% Cashless with DigiPay

‘DigiPay’ services launched at booking counters, stalls

VISAKHAPATNAM: Divisional Railway Manager Mukul Saran Mathur has declared Visakhapatnam railway station as 100 % Digital Payment Enabled (Digi Pay) station and launched the services at the station to promote cashless transaction.

The launch of Digi Pay stations would encourage cashless transactions, the vision of Union government of ‘Digital India-Digital Railways’. Passengers can make transactions in the stations through Point of Sale (PoS) machines arranged at railway counters and e-wallets at all the stalls at the railway station.

Visakhapatnam Railway Station is a major railway station in East Coast Railway (ECoR), which handles 118 trains and receives over 60,000 footfalls a day, and more than 80,000 a day during festive seasons, generating revenue of more than ₹30 lakh a day.

Mr. Mathur said Digi Pay services were provided at the general ticket booking counters, reservation complex, water vending machines, cloak rooms, coffee, tea stalls, ATMs, parking, parcel office, book stalls, fruit juice stalls, pay and use toilets and at other points on the station premises.

Help desks

State Bank of India has also provided help desks and information booths for promotion of digital transaction among rail users. He appealed to people and rail users to use this facility for hassle-free journeys and to make dream of a Digital India- Digital Rail into a reality.

Inspection

After the official launch of the Digi-Rail campaign DRM along with branch officials inspected various stalls and railway counters to check the usage and working of digi pay services.

During this campaign, appreciation certificates will be given to the digi pay customers along with paper caps to encourage the users.

A signature campaign on ‘digital rail’ was also organised on this occasion where the participants appreciated the efforts by Waltair Division towards cashless transactions, according to Divisional Commercial Manager G. Suneel Kumar.

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PayU partners with IRCTC, lends online payment services to users

NEW DELHI: Payment gateway provider PayU on Monday announced its collaborations with the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) to provide users a safe and secure option to pay for rail tickets booked via the IRCTC website.

PayU will now be available as a payment option under the Multiple Payment Services or MPS option on the IRCTC website at the payment stage of booking an e-ticket. Clicking on this option will enable users to make a safe and secure transaction via various payment options like internet banking, debit/credit card and e-wallet.

“Our payment gateway operates around 80 percent of the e-commerce business in India today, and this collaboration with IRCTC is aligned with our vision to simplify the payment experience for the growing digital savvy consumers as well as the merchants. Undoubtedly, this is a very large and prestigious mandate for us. IRCTC’s biggest strength, its traffic, combined with the success rate of our payment gateway, which is the best in the industry today, is a great match and has a huge potential to enhance the digital transactions landscape and contribute towards making India a cashless/less cash economy,” said Rahul Kothari, Enterprise Business Head, PayU India.

Truecaller integrates Fast Track Toll-free Numbers of Railways under Essential Categories that works without Internet

Truecaller has launched Fast Track numbers – a service which integrates toll-free numbers for emergency services like Railways, police, fire, medical care, women’s helpline, roadside assistance, as well as essential categories like banks, couriers, airlines and insurance, all integrated directly into the Truecaller App, accessible by the user without an internet connection.

Building upon its core proposition of being a complete communication platform, Truecaller will be rolling out two new features – Number Scanner and Fast Track numbers with its upcoming Android release 8.45 in the coming week.

  • Number Scanner – Now you will be able to use the Truecaller App to scan a number directly from business cards, websites, street signs, shop fronts or anywhere you need to quickly lookup a number or store it to your contacts. This will enable users to have the proper resources to receive relevant information quickly, digitally and in their surrounding physical environment.
  • Scan & Pay – Users in India will also be able to scan a number and pay directly using Truecaller Pay – this is a more convenient way of making quick payments as opposed to scanning QR codes. You could be out for lunch with a friend, in a store, or even looking to pay bills – this will be beneficial to our users who are always on the go and lessens the need to carry cash or cards.

You can now send or request money, recharge, or even Flash Message any contact from your native phone book.

These also include extremely useful ‘Bank Balance Check’ numbers that enable a user to check their bank balance via a return SMS from their respective bank via a missed call service. Located in the search bar, the in-built contacts will help users make phone calls at critical moments with a single tap.

Currently, Fast Track numbers will only be available in India.

Commenting on the feature set expansion, Narayan Babu, Director of Product & Engineering at Truecaller, said, “As a product made by the community and for the community, our commitment to our users is to constantly add features that enable them to stay ahead of the curve. These new features make Truecaller even more relevant in the real world.  When you see an important phone number, you can directly pull it into your phone with Truecaller and use it, in seconds, to connect or make a payment. Also, during critical moments you can reach out to the right company, person or service with a single tap with Fast track numbers.”

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Countdown Begins: ISRO’s Navigation Satellite launch to help Railways track Trains real-time, alerts at Unmanned LCs


The Rs.1,420-crore Indian Satellite Navigation System NavIC consists of Nine Satellites – Seven in Orbit and Two as Substitutes. One of the Substitutes is the IRNSS-1H. According to ISRO, the Navigation System is highly helpful for the Railways in tracking the trains real-time, and also giving alert in case of unmanned Level Crossings (ULCs).

NavIC is highly helpful for the Indian Railways in tracking the trains real-time, and also giving alert in case of unmanned Level Crossings (ULCs). The technology offering from ISRO will help boost the Operational Efficiency in a significant way.

SRIHARIKOTA: The 29-hour countdown for the launch of India’s eighth navigation satellite IRNSS-1H began at 2 pm today at Sriharikota rocket port, 80 kilometres from Chennai, officials said. The 1,425-kilogram satellite — part of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) — will be carried by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket, XL variant.

It will blast off on Thursday at 7 pm, an official of the Indian Space Research Organisation or ISRO said.

This will be the eighth IRNSS satellite and will be a replacement for IRNSS-1A as its atomic clocks have failed. The atomic clocks are important to provide accurate positional data.

The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) or NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation) is an independent regional navigation satellite system developed by India that is similar to the US-owned Global Positioning System or GPS. The system that offers services such as terrestrial and marine navigation, disaster management vehicle tracking and fleet management, navigation aids for hikers and travelers, visual and voice navigation for drivers, among other services.

The Rs. 1,420-crore Indian satellite navigation system NavIC consists of nine satellites — seven in orbit and two as substitutes. One of the substitutes is the IRNSS-1H.

Each satellite has three clocks, and a total of 27 clocks for the navigation satellite system (including the standby satellites) were supplied by the same vendor. Like its other IRNSS predecessors, IRNSS-1H also carries two types of payloads – navigation payload and ranging payload.

The navigation payload of IRNSS-1H will transmit navigation service signals to the users. This payload will be operating in L5-band and S-band. The ranging payload of IRNSS-1H consists of a C-band transponder, which facilitates accurate determination of the range of the satellite.

The four stage PSLV-XL stands 44.4 metres tall and weighs 321 tonnes at the lift-off stage. At least 19 minutes 25 seconds after lift-off, the rocket will sling IRNSS-1H at an altitude of 507 km.

According to ISRO, NavIC is useful for fishermen to reach potential fishing area. Fishermen can also get alert messages on bad weather, high waves or when they approach international maritime boundary line. These services are provided through a software application on a smartphone.

ISRO also said NavIC is useful for merchant ships in navigation and also during search and rescue operations. In the road transport sector, NavIC helps transport operators to track their vehicles.

According to ISRO, the navigation system is helpful for the railways in tracking trains and also giving alert in case of unmanned level crossing.

Inside Google-RailTel’s Wi-Fi partnership is a Great Learning – a Review on the Initiative

NEW DELHI: As a part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India initiative, the Indian Railways have partnered with Google to provide Wi-Fi Broadband facility to passengers at major railway stations across the country.

The Google RailTel initiative was launched in January 2016. Till date Google in partnership with RailTel, a subsidiary of Indian Railways, has reached 140 stations across India and offers speeds ranging from 20-40Mbps. Their lofty aim is to reach as many as 400 stations by 2018.

The main goal of the RailTel initiative is to bridge the digital divide and provide the masses with reliable and fast internet so that they can remain connected, do their work, watch videos and so whilst waiting for their trains. Under this initiative, RailTel provides the high speed network via Fiber lines while Google proved tech support and sets up the wireless infrastructure.

Google’s reasoning behind entering into a partnership with Indian Railways to bring high-speed internet at class A and A1 railway stations internet is both sound, forward thinking and intelligent:

“Railway stations are the one place in India where you can get reliable power, fiber thanks to RailTel and most importantly almost all of the demographic of India passes through these stations. Imagine the amount of population that will pass through the top 100 stations of the country in a year or two. Being a point of transit, it is not not the same 10 million people every day,” At Nizamuddin Railway station alongwith the personnel from Google and RailTel interacted first-hand with passengers on the ground as well as workers who spend their whole day at the railways station.

Mumbai Central a learning lesson

Currently, Google RailTel has over 6.5 million (65 lakh) monthly users. The first station to get the free public Wi-Fi service was Mumbai Central in January 2016. Google says they learnt a lot from their first experiment at the Mumbai Central station.

Apart from a few niggles, the Wi-Fi works quite well most of the time and delivers fast speeds

For example, they realised they should not put routers in open areas and foot over bridges as that leads to people using the internet extraneously. A RailTel representative quoted examples of people just standing at the foot over bridges for hours and clogging up bandwidth.

They also realised that the stations experience huge power surges when the trains roll in for which they were not prepared initially. It took Google 45 days to set up the wireless infrastructure in Mumbai Central – it now takes them just 14 days.

How is the RailWire Wi-Fi set-up?

Railtel has 45,000 kms of fiber internet connectivity across 4,000 – 5,000 railway stations across India. The problem is that it is all wired. This is where Google steps in. Each station is individualistic and has its own set of challenges which are identified and worked upon.

They do not put Wi-Fi in open areas because the signal can spread out and can result in a poor experience for the user. So wherever there is a roof in a station, Google installs routers spaced 50 metres apart. Footover bridges are also not covered because of potential of misuse and interference cause by the metallic structure.

Google then does a preliminary site survey to identify the civil infrastructure – how the station is designed. Then the company identifies all the potential hotspot locations in order to make a preliminary coverage map which is then submitted to RailTel. Then after approval is recieved, the installation of the infrastructure is finally done.

Google says they have a kind of ‘township’ coverage that ensures steady speed and signal across the whole station. There are Wi-Fi access points every 50 meters horizontally and also every 25 meters diagonally.

A great, future-forward initiative

The sign-up process is as easy as it gets. All you have to do is choose Google RailWire under WiFi settings, punch in your mobile number, enter the OTP you receive via SMS and you’re good to go. When we asked the people working at the station (who have been using the service for a long time) about the sign-up process, they were very impressed with how easy and uncomplicated it was.

Google’s free Wi-Fi service works on a model where there is no cap on the volume of data consumed. However, as there are no free lunches in the world, there is a time limit after which the speed of the internet gets gradually reduced. How this works is fascinating as well as complicated.

The three biggest challenges facing the project are lack of awareness, speed throttling in peak hours and the threat from cheap 4G services

For the first 30 minutes, a user gets access to the highest speed of the network (between 20-40Mbps), after which the network is dynamically adjusted in such a way that priority is given to those who are logging in for the first time. Simply put, after 30 minutes you may not be able to stream HD quality videos but you will be able to perform use case scenarios like running apps like WhatsApp and Messenger, opening social media websites and so on.

During our interaction at Nizamuddin railway station, people in general seemed happy with the Wi-Fi services. Most people remarked that apart from a few niggles (which we will talk about below), it works quite well most of the time and delivers fast speeds. What was fascinating to note is that while most people claimed to use the service for entertainment, we did see a few cases of school boys using the Wi-Fi to send pictures of a textbook to their friends, senior citizens using it to read books and so on.

This ties in well with several examples that were given to us by Google and RailTel representatives about how the Wi-Fi is being used for more than just entertainment. As the Google Wi-Fi project moves from tier 1 to tier 2 and tier 3 cities, its impact grows as many people without previous access to Internet get connected.

What are the challenges faced?

The three biggest challenges that Google free Wi-Fi project faces as of now is lack of awareness, speed throttling in peak hours and the threat it faces from cheap 4G services like Reliance Jio.

When we interacted with people waiting for their trains and workers at Nizamuddin railway station, a common thread emerged – people preferred using their Jio 4G connections over Google’s free Wi-Fi during peak hours. In the afternoon apparently the speeds slow down quite a bit due to heavy traffic which overloads the servers and subsequently throttles speeds.

When we addressed this concern to Mr Gulzar Azad – Google’s head of connectivity, he said “This is exactly what we were expecting. Once people start experiencing high-speed internet, the user behaviour changes – the expectation now is higher. There is more demand for less and less latency in the network.”

As the Google Wi-Fi project moves from tier 1 to tier 2 and 3 cities, its impact grows as many people without previous access to Internet get connected

Another reason people prefer using their 4G data connection over Google’s Wi-Fi service is the fact that high-speed access is limited to only 30 minutes. Mr Azad has this to say when we asked him if Google RailTel’s strategy had changed in any way since Jio revolutionised 4G data rates in India –  ” What we have seen is that as 4G has emerged, we have seen no dip in the Wi-Fi usage. If you talk about the time when ‘free’ 4G started emerging, we were at about 5 million (50 lakh) monthly active users, today we are at 6.5 million (65 lakh) monthly active users. So the RailTel initiative has only grown since then.”

The lack of awareness is an issue that Google is acutely aware off which is becoming exacerbated as the project moves from tier-1 cities to tier-2 and 3 towns. While a lot of effort needs to be done even in metropolitan cities, not many people expect there will be such high speed Wi-Fi in railway stations in tier 2 and 3 cities especially.

This is what Mr Azad had to say about the awareness challenges – ” We have tried a few things, we have tried LED boards as you can see, we have tried beacons at the station to give alerts to people as they walk in that Wi-Fi is available here. Indian Railways needs to find some creative ways to use the stalls etc to let people know. Because finally this is a great advancement. If you compare this with Wi-Fi in London and San Francisco, you will find that the Wi-Fi is better in both coverage and capacity.”

SMS based Passenger Complaint & Suggestion System (SPCSS) for Indian Railways passengers

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways have introduced a System where one can complain from a running train.  The SMS about complaint will be acknowledged and attended.  Give the Train No., Bogie No., precise nature of complaint like no water in toilets, no lights, fans not working, security problem or whatever through SMS.  The Railway number to which one can SMS is 8121281212.  This will help someone in emergency.

OBJECTIVES

  1. To get complaints/suggestions from customers through SMS for aligning railway resources and priorities to customers’ aspirations and expectations.
  2. To reduce the gap between the customers’ expectations and railway’s performance.
  3. To help railways prioritize focus areas.
  4. To foster greater participation of customers in railway services.

SALIENT FEATURES

  1. Complaint/suggestion can be registered at 8121281212 by sending an SMS.
  2. In response, an automated acknowledgement with a unique ID will be sent as an SMS.
  3. With the unique ID, passenger can know the status of the complaint by sending SMS:- “STATUS < SPACE > < REFERENCE ID>” to 8121281212 or by logging on our website scr.indianrailways.gov.in/
  4. Final reply will be sent through an SMS and will also be available on website- www.scr.indianrailways.gov.in/

Railway Postal Services to apply Blockchain Technology and IoT for better service delivery and management

NEW DELHI: Department of Posts, trading as India Post, is looking to modernize postal services including Railway Postal services through budding technologies.

India Post is planning to integrate blockchain technology and internet of things (IoT), respectively, to their service platforms. One of the senior Director at India Posts predicts that blockchain technology may be implemented by the end of 2018, or shortly thereafter.

Blockchain technology can be used to add a layer of security to the delivery of high value parcels, including luxury items. “Blockchain is secure and trusted as only authorised persons are allowed to open parcels,” the Director said.

Given the synergy between blockchain-based technologies and IoT devices, it is not a far stretch of the imagination to see a possible collaboration of technology platforms between these two state-run agencies viz. India Posts and Indian Railways, with IoT devices reporting to a blockchain platform. If this happens, it’s possible that both India Post’s and Indian Railways applications of blockchain technology and IoT may give rise to a shared technology that can track posts going through rail channels.

With similar goals of introducing new technology, Indian Railways also entered the areas of innovating with IoT devices. As per the report, the broadcasting spectrum would allow a wireless communications array to integrate with IoT sensors. Such sensors may provide better alerts to authorities, enabling them to more effectively stop trains to prevent accidents and perhaps save lives. It will also improve the logistics service of goods delivery.

Four different ways to use Blockchain technology to improve services

The report also suggests that the mail services should consider using blockchain technology for identity purposes, supply chains, device networks, and possibly even a cryptocurrency to be issued for purchasing postage with. The blockchain technology could impact the Postal Service’s business in several ways. The Postal Service could improve its existing services by beginning to experiment with the financial applications of blockchain.

There is also a recommendation for creating a centrally-run digital currency “PostCoin“. Although financial applications on the blockchain do not need intermediaries to function, having a trusted entity like the Postal Service acting to facilitate its fair, affordable, and transparent use may help address many of the challenges that currently prevent individuals and businesses from taking advantage of this technology.

The report explores two possibilities for creating the PostCoin, the option “to ‘buy in’ to an existing, public blockchain” and the option “to create a brand new blockchain altogether.” The benefits and challenges of each choice are examined, including implementation. “The Postal Service could use the Bitcoin protocol,” it stated, or “another open source software.”

The PostCoin could be used for more than replacing money orders and remittance transactions, states the report. They suggest the currency would be used as a kind of ATM network, and to purchase postage worldwide, across a global network of 600,000 post offices.

Digital Identity is the second major area of opportunity for blockchain disruption mentioned, and the report suggests storing verified identities for all citizens on their blockchain, even for use outside of the postal system. “Identity services are one of the biggest areas of opportunity in the blockchain community, and the Postal Service, as a highly trusted government agency, would be well-suited for a role in identity verification.”

“The Postal Service could verify identities in-person at a post office by using an identification card, such as a driver’s license, Aadhar or a biometric ID, such as a fingerprint,” the report continued. “It could further link that virtual identity used by the customer to operate within a blockchain system with real-world identifiers, such as a person’s postal address.”

The customer benefit derived from such a system could be available in far more roles and applications than any state ID system has attempted to address before. “Customers could use these verified identities to login to secure websites, notarize documents, or participate in smart contracts.”

The least well-known area for opportunity covered in the report was about Device Management, pertaining to the agencies’ own Internet of Things (IoT), including delivery trucks, hand scanners, terminals, and mailboxes. Putting all of these devices on a shared blockchain offers attractive cost savings, through security and efficiency gains.

The final opportunity for disruption may be the biggest cost saver of them all, focusing on the overall postal system supply chain management. Supply chains are explored in the report as a way of “using blockchain to identify packages and mail in the same way individuals can be identified.” Added benefits include tracking every single postal letter and package on a blockchain, removing the need for trust throughout their entire system, and even operating smart contracts for each package.

Although they make no cost savings estimates, it is clear that the improvements could be sweeping, and touch every part of their system. “In essence, blockchain technology allows for close linkages between the financial, logistics, and delivery parts of commercial transactions with the power to unify payment and delivery in one seamless experience.”

Although the report admits it would be cost prohibitive to put such a sensor in each letter and package, it presumes that some customers may pay more for that level of service, while most letters only need a simple barcode printed on them for tracking, like we have today, but referencing the blockchain.

Between the four areas of opportunity mentioned, the report makes no claims which should be implemented first and strongly suggests research for each of them.

The upgradation of information technology platform, equipment and processes to generate accurate and high-quality data for years, amidst financial challenges. “In many ways, the entire Postal organization is going through a data-driven transformation,” the report states “How we use this information is changing the way we manage the organization.”

“Here at the Postal Service, we’re not standing still — we never have. We have a long history of adaptation, embracing new technologies and innovating to meet the evolving needs of the people we serve. We’ll keep investing in the future because we’re always looking forward,” said a senior Technical resource at India Post.

The India Post isn’t the first postal system to consider the upside of using blockchain technology. The public and private jointly-owned enterprise that delivers Australia’s mail, Australia Post, has been considering using blockchain tech for identity management purposes since at least March of this year and the other major organisation is the US Postal Services. Both are also facing financial challenges, suffering a net loss of US$5.06 billion in 2015. Their investigations have so far been limited to improving their process for issuing digital identification, while the USPS seems to be considering any use for blockchain tech. A similar use for the technology in identity management has been considered in the U.S. already too. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), has been exploring potential applications in identity management as well. The agency said that it is seeking to “Design information security and privacy concepts on the blockchain to support identity management capabilities that increase security and productivity while decreasing costs and security risks for the Homeland Security Enterprise (HSE).”

Railways to block doubtful IP Addresses from foreign locations to curb eTouts

As touts keep pace with tech, Railways seeks smarter ways to curb them. On-boarding a CCISO (Certified Chief Information Security Officer) is vital for critical IS Governance, security risk management, controls, and audit, leave alone the vulnerability program management and operations practice in a strategic manner.

NEW DELHI: As online train ticket booking increases, the Railways is facing a new challenge – eTouts.

eTouts use virtual tools to buy tickets before genuine passengers do. Touts book mass tickets – not for private use – but for business, shrinking the number of tickets genuine passengers have access to. Later they sell these tickets at a premium, making an illegal profit.

This has led the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) to explore smarter ways to nab such tech savvy eTouts. The options explored include blocking shady IP addresses from foreign locales for a few minutes at peak traffic on its website and design software that can enable it to identify and block e-touting attempts real-time on a continuous basis.

Besides, the Railway Police has called for an update in the law to formally include e-touting in its policy lexicon.

“Every morning, as the ticket booking starts, the first 30 minutes are meant for private use only. This means both at railway counters where tickets are booked physically and through online windows, passengers can book a maximum of 10 tickets per month for private use,” said RP Pawar, RPF Zonal Training Centre, Central Railway.

Almost 60 per cent of reserved train tickets are sold online.

IP addresses

Railway agents share their IP addresses with IRCTC, which allows IRCTC to block ticket booking from those IP addresses. “But, agents often use private IP addresses, other than those shared with IRCTC for their clients,” Pawar told. “Our biggest worry in the reserved passenger bookings are people who are able to block others at the peak time. Some are able to create multiple identities, and have developed some software through which they are able to block others from accessing Passenger Reservation software. We are trying hard to get their footprints…But it’s a continuous process, as they keep changing the software. We need a solution from the cyber security experts,” said IRCTC’s CMD AK Manocha, who recently demitted office.

Manocha feels one option could be to block booking from foreign locations for five or 10 minutes during peak time when the booking per minute grows exponentially from 1,500-2,000 to 14,000-18,000.

Railways police officials have arrested eTouts in the past, but admit practical difficulties. They have sought updation in the Railway Act, which at present does not define eTouting separately.

“Earlier, as soon as the agents bought tickets during the time period when they were not supposed to, we could prove it as they had the booking slips. But now, we are not able to prove. So, we seize their computer, laptops, mobiles, whatever information is there. Subsequently we try to convince the court,” explained Pawar.

In his previous posting at Hubli, Pawar had seized computers, laptops, mobiles of eTouts to prove ‘unlawful possession’ in the Court. But unless, the Railway Act clearly spells out the course of action allowed to nab eTouts, Railway policemen feel they could be charged with misuse of law by courts.

During April-June 2017, 307 touts, 59,115 unauthorised vendors and 7 illegal ticketing agencies were prosecuted, according to Railways data shared in Parliament.

Pawar felt that a solution could be in linking Aadhaar, telephone number, bank accounts, all of which can be traced. Manocha echoed that the solution could lie in linking ticket booking to Aadhaar, or passport, or verifiable identities.

 

 

 

Railways’ Wi-Fi Video Entertainment Plan for Passengers gathers Steam

NEW DELHI: You could soon have video entertainment on trains to see you through long journeys. Video content providers such as Viacom18, Zee, Hungama and Shemaroo are keen to bid for the rights to provide video content on 3,000 trains through wireless intranet.

The Indian Railways, under its non-fare revenue cell, has drawn up the plan to provide video content, including movies in all major Indian languages on all its passenger trains.

Under the plan, passengers will be able to watch the content on their phones by logging on to the railways’ local wi-fi network onboard.

According to the railways, the companies have evinced interest during the pre-bid conferences and will participate in bidding next month as well.

The number of trains will be divided into two equal packages and the bidding will happen in a phase-wise manner. The deal is likely to fetch the railways nearly Rs 500 crore annually in non-fare revenue.

“Almost 24 such companies have come forward. We will be charging an annual license fee from the successful bidder,” a top railway official said.

The contract will be awarded for a period of five years. The official said since uninterrupted internet facility cannot be provided on trains due to technological challenges and high cost, the plan to disseminate content through local wi-fi in all coaches will work well.

“Earlier, we were expecting over Rs 1,000 crore annually from this segment. But after consultation with stakeholders, it was felt that the market was still not ripe. However, we will easily be able to get Rs 500 crore without even spending a penny as the successful bidder will provide the technology and the equipment,” the official added.

A distribution box will be installed in the coaches, which will be updated regularly. Passengers will be able to consume content on their own devices.

The content-on-demand project falls under the railways’ plan to boost non-fare revenue by selling advertising spaces inside and outside trains and railway stations, and branding rights for stations and trains, besides leasing out spaces for ATMs and shops.

The railways sees Rs 18,000-crore revenue potential for these initiatives annually. In the recently released volume two of the Economic Survey 2016-17, it has been suggested that the railways should focus on such initiatives to boost revenue.

Railway minister Suresh Prabhu has set the target to earn 10% of total rail revenue from such sources so that reliance on freight and passenger fares can be reduced.

Currently, the railways earn only 3% of its total revenue from non-fare sources as against the 15-20% average for railways in developed counties.

Thane and Kalyan railway stations see maximum use of free Wi-Fi

Weekdays recorded higher usage of Wi-Fi at the stations owing to heavy commuter rush. A total of 400 railway stations will be provided with Wi-Fi connectivity in the coming years, including more stations in Mumbai.

MUMBAI: Thane and Kalyan railway stations on the Central Railway’s suburban main line account for the maximum number of users of the free Wi-Fi service provided by the railways across the country, said sources in RailTel, which provides the service. Officials claimed that users at these suburban stations have outnumbered most of the other major railway stations that see higher footfall or share of waiting passengers.

RailTel Corporation of India, a mini-ratna public sector undertaking under the Ministry of Railways, provides RailWire, a Wi-Fi service, for passengers at A1 & A category railway stations across the country. The project was launched at selective stations in Mumbai in 2015. More than 20 suburban stations now offer free Wi-Fi connectivity to passengers, among a total of 146 stations in the country.

Expectedly, Mumbai sees the heaviest usage of this service.

“The response in Mumbai for the connectivity is pretty good. Suburban railway stations hardly see commuters standing at the particular station for a long time due to the rush to catch the train to work or home. For that matter, we expected greater usage of the service at stations addressing rush of long-distance trains as passengers arrive early to spend more time at the station premises,” said Sucharita Pradhan, public relations officer for RailTel.

The study of the Wi-Fi usage was conducted over the past two months. Both Thane and Kalyan stations that recorded average daily passenger count of over two lakh, were ahead of Howrah and New Delhi stations.

“A daily average of 18,000 to 20,000 users of the Wi-Fi have been registered at these stations. The usage refers to downloads or those using internet services for browsing,” Pradhan added.

“I have used the Wi-Fi at stations to update my phone’s software. Once or twice, I also tried using the net to upload my concerns on Twitter and other social media tools,” said Amit Bhadricha, a commuter who has used Wi-fi at more than one station.

“The connectivity is not that seamless at most stations. However, the speed is pretty good. I tend to put on the Wi-Fi when I have time to watch interesting videos,” said Shashank Shlok, a college student who has used Wi-Fi at Thane station.

Weekdays recorded higher usage of Wi-Fi at the stations owing to heavy commuter rush. A total of 400 railway stations will be provided with Wi-Fi connectivity in the coming years, including more stations in Mumbai.

Google says RailTel’s WiFi service far better than those in London and San Francisco

The Google-RailTel WiFi services are at present available in 140 Railway Stations
Gulzar Azad

NEW DELHI: The Wifi connectivity provided by Google as part of the RailTel project is faster than those in San Francisco and London, said Google India’s Gulzar Azad, Country Head-Connectivity.

He also added that the Indian version is far ahead in terms of coverage and capacity.

The head of Google India’s connectivity department was speaking in an interview regarding the RailTel project, which is being executed in partnership of the Indian Railways.

RailTel Corporation of India Limited – a Public Sector Telecom PSU under Ministry of Railways, is part of the Digital India drive of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Launched in January 2016, the project aims to provide WiFi broadband access to railway passengers in more than 400 major stations by 2018.

The service at present is available in 140 railway stations including New Delhi and Hazrat Nizamuddin. The speed is at present 20 to 40 mbps for the first 30 minutes followed by a gradual decrease in order to manage bandwidth.

Gulzar Azad with Sundar Pichai CEO Google

Azad said that the rise in data consumption following the arrival of Jio has increased the demand for data, but without hampering the RailTel’s growth. RailTel’s customers, he said, have increased to 65 lakh monthly users from 50 lakh since the emergence of free data phenomenon.

With regard with the lack of proper publicity for the project, Azad said that steps will be taken to make people more aware of the service. But he also added that more co-operation is needed with the Indian Railways to find innovative modes for publicity.

Also Readhttp://www.railnews.in/google-railtels-wi-fi-project-uses-cloud-native-nfv-to-deliver-wi-fi-to-millions/

The RailTel project once fully implemented is set to become the largest WiFi project in the planet.

Gulzar said that Google want a billion people online and we want all of them on broadband. It is clear that the digital is an economic growth force. But the Google’s ultimate goal is that billion number of broadband users, each of them using 10 GB a month. The contributions have to come from the internet world, content players, telecom companies and the government. The data revolution has taken some time to come out in India. But it cannot be more inspiring with merger happening, transformation happening. Google would like to achieve 10GB per user per month in the next 4-5 years. Gulzar said that in last one year, we began with Railways WiFi and completed the 140 stations. Usage levels we are seeing from users, government and industry exhilarating. Which is why Google announced to create a product platform, Google Station to allow fast, reliable and secure Wi-Fi by ISPs, establishments and venues. Google also looking for more partnership around the Google station platform. Also L&T is one we are discussions with. Some will convert in the deals.

In India 115 stations stations live, our goal is to get to 400 stations with high speed networks, which jointly created by Google and RailTel. Our main focused on assuring that the monetization kicks in this year.

Rail sectors in Europe calls for Secure Radio Spectrum for next-generation Railway Telecoms system

The rapid evolution of Mobile telecommunications lifecycles has long been a challenge for Railways, where the cost, size and implementation timescale of telecoms deployments means lifecycles are measured in decades.

THE Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS) will supersede GSM-R as the industry’s standard telecommunications system in the 2020s, potentially bringing “game-changing” capability. But as Keith Barrow reports from Paris, a well-defined migration plan and adequate spectrum allocation will be vital to a successful transition.

Mobile telecommunications lifecycles are short, with the interval between the emergence of one generation and the next typically around 10 years. So while 4G connectivity may feel like a recent innovation, 5G is just around the corner. The 5G standard will be finalised by June 2018, enabling deployments to begin before 2020, and the first commercial use of the technology is expected to be at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

This rapid evolution has long been a challenge for rail, where the cost, size and implementation timescale of telecoms deployments means lifecycles are measured in decades. Railways’ investment in GSM-R is secured through a commitment by the Railway Operational Communications Industry Group (ROC IG) to continue supporting GSM-R until at least 2030. GSM-R is unquestionably a success story, but it is already yesterday’s technology. With the prospect of a successor that can support new, potentially game-changing applications, many railways will be reaping the benefits of a next-generation telecommunications backbone well before this date.

Railways have an increasing need for their own wireless telecoms to support machine-to-machine communications and data transmission in isolated locations. As the expectations of both operators and their customers rise in line with technological advances, the need to support real-time information, remote asset monitoring, and other applications becomes more pressing. Scalable, secure, IP-based transmission networks will be needed to unlock many of the benefits of the digital railway, and the next-generation system will be vital to the future interoperability of Europe’s railways. It is therefore a key component of the digital infrastructure needed to deliver the European Commission’s vision of a Single European Railway Area.

Work to define the scope of the Future Railway Mobile Communications System (FRMCS) has been underway for several years with the support of a number of key organisations in both the rail and telecoms industries, including the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (Etsi) and the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP).

In 2014 the International Union of Railways (UIC) launched an FRMCS project with the aim of providing a set of preconditions for the technology, developing a replacement for Eirene Functional Requirement Specification (FRS), and helping to define a migration strategy. Recognising the scale of GSM-R deployment outside Europe, the UIC’s FRMCS project has now gone global, with the aim of involving key players in countries such as Australia, China, Japan, Korea, and the United States. “This means more resources, more people, more minds working together,” Mr Dan Mandoc, UIC project manager for FRMCS told delegates at the UIC’s 3rd World Conference on Rail Transport Telecoms in Paris on May 17. “We are looking for a standardised product, with as many functions as possible built into the 3GPP layer. FRMCS is going to be complex, but it will be a game-changer.”

Mandoc says the aim is to deliver the first functional requirement specification for FRMCS at the beginning of 2019.

The European Union Agency for Railways is responsible for overall coordination and has set up a dedicated Radio Coordination Working Group. It is also actively involved in spectrum issues at the European Communication Committee, supporting the European Commission on FRMCS and preparing changes to the Control and Command TSI. In addition, the agency is leading a coordination forum, which brings together stakeholders including the UIC, Etsi, the Shift2Rail research initiative, and the Unisig consortium, which is responsible for developing and maintaining the specifications for ERTMS.

The agency expects to present its first report on FRMCS to the EC at the end of the year. Industry consultation on the draft conclusions began last month and is due to be completed in September.

“We are working with stakeholders to define a successor to GSM-R,” says the agency’s executive director Mr Josef Doppelbauer. “A key challenge is that we need spectrum both for the future system and GSM-R during the migration phase. There will be massive competition for this spectrum – autonomous cars are going to need a lot of bandwidth to sustain their network – so we need to fight for our bandwidth. This will be an issue not just in Europe but globally.”

Doppelbauer says the timeline for migration will vary between countries and this will create challenges, not least in ensuring that interoperability is preserved, particularly as the legacy and future systems are likely to coexist for many years. The need to keep GSM-R running alongside FRMCS means additional harmonised spectrum will be a vital requirement, and one the industry needs to start preparing for now.

This call was echoed by suppliers from ROC IG, which is working with other industry stakeholders to define a specification for FRMCS. “Early definition of the required spectrum is a really vital issue,” says Mr Ciro de Col of Siemens. “It’s also important to define how we are going to move from one network to another.”

In a draft position paper published on May 16, the European Rail Infrastructure Managers (EIM) association and the Community of European Railways and Infrastructure Companies (CER) suggest that the 873-876MHz/918-921MHz band should be reserved in addition to the current GSM-R band for FRMCS. EIM and CER say this has emerged as “the most favourable option to reuse infrastructure investment and allow a smoother migration.”

Uniform bands

The two organisations argue that uniform frequency bands would allow easier governance of spectrum management across Europe, supporting interoperability between national networks. Adopting similar frequency bands for FRMCS would also enable the reuse of existing lineside infrastructure and onboard equipment, reducing rollout costs. FMRCS frequency bands will need to be supported by the 3GPP specifications to accommodate the use of standardised products and ensure an open market for equipment.

Speaking at the GSM-R conference in Paris, Mr Carlo de Grandis, policy officer for DG Move, told delegates that bandwidth will be needed for critical interoperability and safety-related applications both during the migration phase and after the rollout of FRMCS. EU-wide spectrum allocation will also be necessary to ensure interoperability.

Members of the ROC IG also urged the industry to consider the enablers behind FRMCS. “Technology alone isn’t enough – we need to consider business and lifecycle aspects,” says Mr Thomas Karl, public transport division director for Frequentis. “5G is going to bring big changes. If we think the future railway will have the same function with the same bandwidth, that’s not wise. We mustn’t close our eyes to what is happening.”

“Our retention of GSM-R frequencies will be challenged by other sectors,” says Mr Pierre Cotelle of Alstom. “We need to be very clear about why we need it, especially during the migration period.”

According to Mr Chiel Spaans, EU Agency for Railways’ project manager for next-generation railway communications, the legal framework for FRMCS needs to ensure interoperability is maintained during the transition phase, and provide sufficient flexibility for future updates, minimising the impact of technical evolution on the overall system.

“With GSM-R, the railways created a successful, interoperable system, but it won’t be easy to repeat that success and the future will be more complicated,” he says. “We will have a new system operating in parallel with GSM-R, which is likely to be a number of different systems. We need to keep an eye on interoperability and ensure we have enough flexibility to respond to future developments. Nobody can predict what will happen after the first FRMCS deployment in 2022, or what will happen when GSM-R is switched off, so we need flexibility.”

DFCs, increased Port connectivity, Urban Rail infra, Technology for efficient transport and logistics

Traditionally, the logistics spend of developed economies is about 5-6% of their respective GDP whereas in India, it is about 14-15% highlighting the unorganized and fragmented logistics industry. The road network is still under nascent stages of development while the rail network is also under upgradation in India. There is also lack of standardization of assets in the Indian logistical space today leading to either lack of productivity or higher inefficiency. With GST roll-out, the regulatory hurdles will reduce which will have a positive impact on transportation. The warehousing sector will be consolidated and will be able to optimize further. Government is also planning dedicated freight corridors for railways which will help to move road freight to rail.

According to our understanding trade and industry promotion, logistics, infrastructure development and introduction of GST initiated by the Government of India will go a long way to ensure a steep growth in this sector. In addition, an expanding e-commerce sector will ensure a growth trend in the warehousing segment. Dedicated freight corridors, increased port connectivity and the constant endeavor of the Union government towards easing of policies and their focus on strengthening the infrastructure (rail, road, ports and airport) backbone are all positive developments in this regard.

In Budget 2017-18, the Government of India has announced heavy investments in the infrastructure sector which is in continuation with their increased focus on infrastructural development over the past few years. The total allocation for infrastructure stands at approx. Rs 4,00,000 crore and the total capital outlay for Transport sector is approx. Rs 2,50,000 crore. The budget allocation for highways alone stands at Rs 64,000 crore in 2017-18. The increased investment in the infrastructure sector spells positive for the logistics players in India. Over the years, a lot of business potential of logistics players has been lost because of infrastructural deficiencies in our country. If things move as planned, logistics business will hugely benefit as building on infrastructure will now be taken care of.

Technology will play a pivotal role for betterment of the industry. With the implementation of IoT, transporting goods to long distances can be done far more efficiently. This is possible by accurately capturing and processing real time data. The logistics of the near future is based upon sensor technology that measures factors like traffic flow, area specific volume and movement of people and infrastructural strength of the area. An efficient transport and logistics infrastructure that is based on the elements of big data and IoT further enable sustainable economic growth. A futuristic logistics system as this also translates to improved economic opportunities, property value creation, affordable housing and reduced vehicular usage leading to lesser transport congestion and air pollution. It would be safe to say that big data and cognitive computing will be the foundation on which an efficient futuristic logistics’ system will be based on.

However, India is a different proposition when it comes to automation. The labour costs, though rising, are fraction of those in developed countries. This makes it challenging to derive required financial benefits from implementing 100% automated warehouses in India. In India, the aim would be to find right balance between automation and labour to get an improved and predictable productivity.

Addition of robots may reduce operating expenses for any ecommerce player. Not only could robots pare labour costs over the long term, they may protect employers against labour shortages, a particularly scary proposition for the biggest retailers during demand surges. Robots can help improve speed and accuracy and increase productivity per square foot of warehouse space at a time when the growth of e-commerce is driving up commercial rents.

We are very optimistic about the future of the Logistics segment in the near future. The sector is expected to consolidate and being an organised logistics player is going to be incentivized. A number of factors contribute to this, the introduction of GST, bigger and automated warehouses, better and standardized vehicles, better infrastructure, thrust on multi modal by the government will lead better growth in the Indian logistics space.

Indian Railways to soon introduce speedy Wi-Fi Access for passengers onboard the train

In Aug 2016, RDSO approved C-DOT gears for Wi-Fi services. Soon, you’ll be able to access Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and other apps onboard your train. Currently, Wi-Fi services access across the trains and Railway stations is being provided by the RailTel Corporation of India Ltd.

NEW DELHI: After the successful stint of installing Wi-Fi across 125 stations, Indian Railways is now looking forward to providing Wi-Fi internet access for all its onboard passengers for the entire duration of their train journeys, says a report in The Financial Express.

Indian Railways has already been giving Internet services on its premier trains such as the Tejas, Gatimaan, Delhi-Howrah Rajdhani Express and other luxury trains for quite some time now.

The internet services provided until have been through a satellite which makes them very expensive.

Under the new system, the Wi-Fi devices will be installed on a track-side equipment basis at periodic intervals for uninterrupted Internet access.

Research for the project is being carried out by IIT Chennai and Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT).

IIT has already developed a concept and C-DOT is working on an existing equipment which requires some modifications before it can be implemented for the trains. Indian Railways is also on the lookout for partners for the project.

As per a statement from an official, a pilot project will be started in the Chennai-Bangalore line soon.

The development comes at a time when Indian Railways is trying hard to get an image makeover and boost its present state of services especially in light of recent accusations made by the CAG and its efforts to match up to the aviation sector to which it is fast losing passengers.

Currently, Wi-Fi access across trains is being provided by the RailTel Corporation of India in association with Google.

The Indian Railways has also started providing onboard entertainment in selected trains and it also launched RailCloud – a virtual server with an inbuilt security system that will enable faster connectivity at a reduced cost.

Wi-Fi technology of state-run Centre for Development of Telematics (CDOT) has been approved by Indian Railways. Most of the equipment installed in Indian telecom network were imported earlier. Approval of C-DoT Wi-Fi equipment will help deployment of indigenously made gears.  The company is in the advanced stages of developing of 5G technology.

AIMS and IPAS Application is one of the important Catalyst for IR’s One-ICT Policy: Rohita Mishra, Sr.EDPM/Delhi

Rohita Mishra IRAS, Sr.EDPM/NR

The Indian Railways embarked on a speed work of switching over to IT/ICT driven administration of functions and have implemented various IT Applications in the last few years viz. FOIS, PRS, UTS, Control Office Applications, Crew Management System, Integrated Coaching Management System, e-Procurement System, Real Time Train Information System, AIMS and IPAS etc.  The Finance & Accounts Department in the Railways plays an Integral Role in rendering timely advise, proper maintenance of accounts in terms of earnings and expenditure and providing in time management information, reporting for decision making with proper budgeting, keeping the Accounts and compilation thereof at the end of each financial period, internal checks of all transactions, scrutiny of investment proposals and MIS Reporting.

Among many IT initiatives of Indian Railways, the Accounting Information Management System (AIMS) is one of the vital Application that not only covers the establishment, payroll, leave account, PF, pension and other vital modules but also facilitates internal checks, bill passing, cheque printing, monthly and annual account compilation, budget and financial review and forecast – thus immensely contributes for best of the breed administrative standards with benchmarked practices.

In an interview with the Editor-in-Chief of RailNews, Ms.Rohita Mishra IRAS, Sr.EDPM of NR’s Delhi Division says that today almost all the Zonal Rail systems have adopted AIMS and IPAS and the role of IT has changed completely now on IR. Ms.Rohita says that the Application has been highly customized over a period of time and will continue to further betterment. “AIMS and IPAS are set to immensely reduce the TCO due to economy in support and licencing costs,” she adds. She asserts that with the industry scale Security Server Applications running, the complete architecture is highly secure, scalable and more agile. Here are the excerpts from the interview with Ms.Rohita Mishra.

Q: Can you give a brief of IPAS Application software being extensively used by Indian Railways?

Rohita Mishra: IPAS Application software (the software for AIMS) was developed by CRIS on web based 3-tier centralized architecture using Java and Oracle. It brings a common Application to all Railways on a centralized platform so that similar processes are followed across Railways in terms of accounting practices. A key benefit of such centralization is a faster change management and integration of effort along with automation of processes. IPAS application is undergoing a continuous up-gradation to achieve better efficiency, security and safety. IPAS will provide real time access to financial transaction data across IR and will also bring financial and fiscal discipline.

Q: When did you implement the IPAS developed by CRIS, and when it was actually conceptualized?

Rohita Mishra: AIMS was conceptualized in the year 2010-11 and the modalities for implementing the project were initiated in the year 2011. Delhi division pioneered IPAS implementation in June-2015.

Q: Can you brief us technical features of IPAS Application Software?

Rohita Mishra: CRIS is now in the advanced stages of developing the integrated IT based system for all 3 modules of Accounting. Although core design of IPAS Application is same as design of PRIME/AFRES, following improvements are there in the system.

Technology Level:

  • Centralized Architecture
  • Web based Application. It doesn’t require any client software on end-users’ PCs.
  • Designed and developed using state of the art open Java technology can run on any OS, any Application Server. Java is futuristic technology instead of existing Oracle Forms based technology.
  • High Availability (24*7) as all the servers has been clustered to run in fail-over mode. Thus, if there is failure of any server, the load will be shifted to cluster server immediately and under no circumstances work will be interrupted. The users would not know the breakdown.
  • Centralized maintenance and management of Infrastructure.

Security Level:

  • Secured Socket Layer (SSL) software has been enabled to encrypt the data to keep safe from hackers.
  • Role based access to the end users which can be administered by Administrators nominated at each unit.
  • Audit trails to monitor the changes made by any user including Administrators.
  • Credentials of users are stored in encrypted way, which cannot be decrypted by any algorithm.
  • No access of database has been given to anyone for security reasons. For running adhoc queries, a utility has been provided by CRIS to extract the data, as per requirement, by writing Oracle SQL queries.

Database Level:

  • PRIME and AFRES databases have been merged into single database and all the redundant tables have been dropped.

Application Level:

  • Inter-related data capturing screens have been merged into single screen to reduce navigations.
  • No Pay Rates form for entry of Basic Pay, DA, HRA and Transport Allow. While processing of salary, data for Basic Pay, HRA, and Transport Allowance are fetched from Employees’ Bio-data.
  • Steps for salary processing have been merged to reduce the work of end-users.
  • Salary Bill passing screen has enriched functionality in IPAS. The screen compares allowances/recoveries/allocations with that of previous month for individual employee to check. In addition, variations are shown in red color. Moreover, the user has been provided all the information required for passing the salary bill.

Interface with Other Applications:

  • IPAS has integration with Material Management Information System (MMIS).
  • Design of Works Register is compatible with IRPSM (Indian Railways Projects Sanctions and Management). Once implemented on Centralized architecture, expenditure as available in Works Register of IPAS against each work will be reflected in IRPSM. Similarly, Budget Outlay allotted through IRPSM will be linked to Works Register.
  • Design of Budget Module is compatible with RBCS (Rail Budget Compilation System) of Budget Directorate. IPAS once implemented in Centralized architecture, RBCS can be linked with Budget Module of IPAS for August Review, RE/BE & FM. Similarly, Budget allotted under Revenue Demands through RBCS will be linked to Budget Module.
  • IPAS is being integrated with Crew Management System (CMS) for allowances of running staff.

Others:

  • As application is based on Centralized Architecture, Real Time Information of IR level can be provided to Railway Board at all times.
  • Being a uniform application similar to any other IR applications (e.g. PRS, FOIS etc.), all the business rules and report formats are uniform over IR. Compliance of any rules/circular of Board (such as DA Arrear, Bonus etc.) can be made speedily.

Q: What are the Functional Modules in IPAS?

Rohita Mishra: There are two types of modules in IPAS

A.    Payroll Employee Profile, Payroll, Salary, Allowances & Recoveries, Annual Increments, Income Tax, Bonus, Cash Compensation, DA Arrear, Supplementary Bills, Traveling Allowance, Leave, Settlement, Leave Salary, GIS, DCRG, Quarters, Electricity, Cadre (Book of Sanction),       Workshop Incentive, Loans & Advances are the working parts of payroll.
B.    Accounts Internal Check, Books, PF, NPS, Pension, Cash & Pay, Suspense & Budget are the working parts of accounts.

Q: Was it fully rolled out on the Zonal Railway as on date?

Rohita Mishra: Key modules of IPAS have been rolled out in all Zones of Indian Railways. Other modules are in the final stages of implementation.

Q: Have you had a seamless implementation of IPAS Application during the transformative stages?

Rohita Mishra: Although there were few challenges, yes, the project is successfully running and few more milestones are in the process of accomplishment shortly.

Q: Do you have any Service Provider/Agency helped in implementation of the IPAS and related Systems Integration?

Rohita Mishra: Most of the development part is handled by CRIS. However the services of few System Integrator are also being availed in certain areas.

Q: How do you consider the implementation of IPAS has advantaged you in your day to day functions when compared to previous Application?

Rohita Mishra: Integrated Payroll and Accounting System (IPAS) has eliminated various hassles of manual working and the system is federated and is brought into a centralized platform and architecture.

Q: About Data Migration, what major challenge do you foresee while in the stages of the implementation of the IPAS?

Rohita Mishra: Any project of this gigantic nature may encounter issues like integration, interoperability, compatibility, structural syncing, configuration management of information systems and device integration and compatibility for various systems, while porting multiple data from conventional systems to single Application Platform which goes to the fundamental need to do more than move data to information systems, but to proactively use it in ways that can have immediate results. IR and CRIS have foreseen such aspects in the initial stages itself, have had taken precautionary measures and successfully come out of those challenges which served as the fastest and easiest means to establish a platform that has the intelligence and awareness.

Q: What major role the Personnel Branch will play in the implementation/execution and operation of the IPAS?

Rohita Mishra: With over 13.6 Lakh employees, Indian Railways is one of the largest employer not only in India, but also in the world. The workforce of IR is a varied mass of people from the Gangman/Khalasi at one end to Chairman, Railway Board at the Apex level. The task of the personnel department of Railways is to manage and look after the welfare of this large mass of employees and their families. Hence IPAS being the centralized web-based platform met efficiently the requirements of not only Personnel Branch but the Accounts & Finance Department and eased out the management of various human resources related matters, from the stages of induction to superannuation. The major modules includes Recruitment, Training & Development, Placements, Transfers, Service Record and Appraisals, Promotions, Court Cases, D&AR matters, Wage and Salary administrations, Settling Industrial Disputes, Staff Grievances and Redressal, Incentives and Financial aids, Settlement and Pension, retirement benefits, employees welfare, Dak and File, Industrial Relations etc. The project has been developed and implemented at Northern Railway and is under maintenance.

In Indian Railways, the complexities of Personnel Management arise from large size of its labour force, the number of categories and trades into which it is divided and the wide geographical spread of staff. All personnel functions for staff of Accounts Department are handled by Accounts Department. Service Records of all Gazetted Officers are maintained by Accounts Department through Password functions are done by Personal Branch. All personnel functions for staff of RPF department by RPF department. All personnel functions of Group-D staff of Civil Engineering Department are handled by Civil Engineering. However all these comes under the IPAS now thus removing various hassles of administration and thus had immensely contributed for better management of personnel department.

Q: What are the major challenges you have encountered in the Administration of IPAS and how did you plan to overcome those challenges?

Rohita Mishra: Employee training, assimilation of course content, trainers availability, time duration and milestones achievements are few of the challenges while implementing the IPAS and we could overcome them in a planned and phased manner over a period of time.

Q: Give a brief on Accounting Information Management System (AIMS)

Rohita Mishra: AIMS has benefited the Finance & Accounts Department of Indian Railways in a bigger way. The Finance and Accounts Department plays an Integral Role in rendering timely financial advices, proper maintenance of accounts of the Railway in terms of earnings and expenditure and providing in time management information, reporting for decision making etc with functions categorized as follows:

  • Proper Budgeting of earnings and expenditure, pertaining to Rail operations.
  • Keeping the Accounts and compilation thereof at the end of each financial period according to well established procedures and formats.
  • Internal check of all transactions, both receipts and expenditure.
  • Scrutiny of investment proposals
  • MIS Reporting.

AIMS has been the catalyst for meeting the above challenges for the Finance and Accounts Department and the efforts of CRIS and the Electronic Data Processing wings of Indian Railways spread across all the Zonal Rail systems are impeccable and noteworthy.

Q: How are the HR and Finance Modules are co-related in fine-tuning the Application? Which are the areas that were covered under IPAS?

Rohita Mishra: The HR and Finance Modules in the AIMS Software have helped in a great way for an Integrated Payroll and Accounting System for IR on Centralized architecture. The Online modern J2EE open technology, Web based & Browser based, 3-Tier architecture helped us to achieve Real time information. The centralized maintenance of Application & Change Management has also greatly helped the department to achieve the uniform processes / reporting, speedy compliance of rules / circulars etc. Also, by way of linking AIMS with all other centralized applications viz.PRS, FOIS, MMIS, CMS, TMS etc has immensely help the Railways to achieve informed real-time status that which has become a base for Accounting Reforms. The HR and Finance modules that were catered under AIMS is as under:

Personnel Department (HR) Finance and Accounts
Employee Profile Payroll, Service Record, Seniority, Leave, Settlement, Travelling Allowance, Quarters, Electricity, Cadre, Loans and Advances Internal Check, Books, PF, Pension, Cash & Pay, Suspense, Budget

Q: Where is the Centralized Architecture and the Data Centre living currently for IPAS and AIMS? Do you have any DC-DR kind of environment?

Rohita Mishra: CRIS is centrally managing the entire Software and Application.

Q: Do you think that the One-ICT Policy that is being debated in Railways for implementation has any role in IPAS and AIMS in future? May please explain. 

Rohita Mishra: Obviously. AIMS and IPAS application is one of the catalyst for One-ICT Policy of Indian Railways that is being formulated currently and the credit goes to CRIS immensely which is equipped with more than 800 employees – majority being the competent IT Professionals, whose skill sets in Systems Architecture, System Analysis, Design, Program Development etc, whose Technical administering skillsets are complemented by an experienced group of serving and former Railway Officials with domain knowledge, expertise and systems implementation. The initiatives of CRIS in various IT space for Railways since last 2 decades is quite larger that is helping to frame a new One ICT Policy.

Indian Railways’ “Rail Saarthi” shows why the Government should not be building Apps

NEW DELHI: Yesterday, the Indian Railways announced the integration of all of its app based services into a single app called Rail Saarthi. At present the Indian Railways has 8 apps for different functions:

  1. IRCTC Rail Connect for train ticketing, which is used for booking around 100,000 tickets daily, generating a revenue of Rs 9.65 crores.
  2. IRCTC Air for air ticketing
  3. IRCTC Tourism for booking packages
  4. IRCTC Food-On-Track for meal booking
  5. UTS for unreserved ticketing, which is used for around 14,400 tickets daily, and revenue of Rs 6.8 lakhs.
  6. COMS for complaint management
  7. Coach Mitra for “clean my coach”.
  8. NTES for Passenger enquiry system, with “nearly” real-time data on the status of trains.

Now you would imagine that creating a consolidated application would be about integrating all of these services into a single app. It makes no sense to have a different application for each service, especially since people with low cost phones tend to limit the number of applications they download.

Here’s the thing: we checked, and Rail Saarthi is NOT an application with all of these services in a single app. It’s just a menu that redirects users to each of these eight applications, and then adds a few things like integrating the Railways’ social media handles, so that you can tweet complaints to them. On trying to register for the application, we were redirected to the Google Play store to download either of two apps: UTS for Rail Saarthi and IRCTC Rail Connect for Rail Saarthi. These are two completely new apps, different from UTS and Rail Connect. Incidentally, registration for the Rail Connect for Rail Saarthi app did not work: the app crashed.

So we’re left with a situation where, instead of having one App for 8 services, we now have 8 apps, one Rail Saarthi App, and then individual apps for different services that are linked to Rail Saarthi.

The point of doing this: I don’t know. The cost of all of this? Rs 7 crores.

Some user comments (on the Google Play Store):

 

Apple to collaborate with Indian Railways to increase train speeds over 600 km per hour

NEW DELHI: Eyeing trains speeds of 600 km per hour, the government is working with global technology firms like Apple to help take Indian railways to the next level, Union minister Suresh Prabhu said on Friday. Speaking at a conference attendended by senior rail officials, Prabhu said that as part of modernisation and maintenance of railways, the ministry has lauched several initiatives over the past three years like RailCloud Server and Rail Saarthi App and is working on a enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution.

The railway minister also said the government’s premier think tank NITI Aayog had approved the ministry’s Rs.18,000 crore proposal to increase speeds of the Gatiman Express on the two busiest corridors, Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata.

With this approval, the speed of the Gatiman Express would increase to 200 km per hour, the minister said at an event organised by industry chamber ASSOCHAM.

“You can yourself imagine how much travelling time this will save.” Sharing plans for the future, Prabhu said the government had six-eight months ago called major technology developers working on increasing train speeds to more than 600 km per hour.

“We are already working with companies like Apple… technology will not only be imported in India but will be co- developed in India,” Prabhu said.

Safety was also an important concern and Indian railways was planning to use self-propelled coaches that can detect rail fractures through ultrasonic technology, the minister added.

Ensuring cyber security in day to day operations is one of the priorities for railways which is moving in a big way towards technology driven operations, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said today.

“We are working on a complete transformation of the railways through investment of huge amounts of money and transformation of each and every aspect of operations to make them better. We are using high-end technology for maintenance and detecting defects in tracks through one application,” said Prabhu

“So if we are doing all this and using the cyber space for digital transactions, obviously, the vulnerability of that transaction becomes very critical.

“When we do everything manually, the challenge is manual error and if we are shifting from manual to technology oriented operations, then the flaws in technology or someone who can potentially hoodwink it is as high and sometimes even dangerous. So cyber security is one of the top priorities,” the minister added.

The meet on ensuring cyber security in Indian Railways, attended by Chairman, Railway Board, A K Mittal and other railway board members and senior officials, saw discussions on cyber threats, security incidents and advanced solutions.

Computerisation in railways started about three decades ago and major activities like ticketing, freight operations, train operations and asset management now rely heavily on IT systems.

Railways launched RailCloud this month, a virtual server with an inbuilt security system that will enable faster connectivity at a reduced cost.

RailCloud technology enables maximising the usage of available server and storage resulting in accommodation of bigger data and more applications within same server space.

Till now all IT applications had separate servers which increased the cost of operations and purchases.

Cyber Security has now been identified as the focus area by the railways. Auditing of IT Systems by Standardisation Testing and Quality Certification (STQC) and close coordination with Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) are some of the steps taken by Indian railways.

ISRO-made Chip System to alert Users at unmanned Level Crossings

A hooter will be activated through the satellite chip, developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), about 500 metres before unmanned level crossings. This will be of great help to passengers as currently train movements are tracked manually.

BANGALORE: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has developed a satellite-based chip systems to alert road users at unmanned level crossings about approaching trains and also help in tracking train movement on a real-time basis. About 500 metres before the level crossings, the hooter will be activated through the integrated circuit (IC) chip, warning road users as well as the train driver near the crossing.

The hooter will be louder as the level crossing nears, and finally it will be silent after the train passes by.

On a pilot basis, the Mumbai and Guwahati Rajdhani trains will be equipped with this system.

Road users will be warned by hooters once a train approaches an unmanned level crossing as railways are installing ISRO-developed integrated circuit (IC) chips on locomotives of trains.

There will be hooters at 20 unmanned level crossings on Rajdhani routes for Guwahati and Mumbai, said a senior Railway Ministry official involved with the project.

More trains will be equipped with such technology in a phase-wise manner, according to the plan.

About 500 metres before the level crossings, the hooter will be activated through the IC chip, warning road users as well as the train driver near the crossing.

The hooter will be louder as the level crossing nears, and finally it will be silent after the train passes by.

Besides alerting road users, the satellite-based system will also be used for tracking trains for disseminating information about their movement on real time basis.

This will be of great help to passengers as currently train movements are tracked manually.

Safety at unmanned level crossings is a cause of serious concern for railways and the public transporter is exploring various ways to address the issue.

There are about 10,000 unmanned railway crossings in the country which account for around 40 per cent of accidents involving the railways.

While the Railways have eliminated 1,148 unmanned crossings in 2014-15 and 1,253 in 2015-16, it has scaled up its target and now plans to eliminate all such crossings in the next 2 to 3 years, the official said.

The satellite-based system will also help railways in mapping the area and the technology will come in handy at the time of accidents when it can be used to ascertain the exact location of trains and topography.

RailCloud Launched – Indian Railways to harness the Power of Cloud Computing in a big way

NEW DELHI:  In a significant IT initiative, the Indian Railways today launched RailCloud – a virtual server with an inbuilt security system to optimise server usage and faster connectivity.

Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu launched the RailCloud Project in the august presence of Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain. Member Staff, A.K.Mital, other Railway Board Members and senior officials who were all present to grace the occasion.

Ministry of Railways has launched the RailCloud project in association with its Telecom PSU, RailTel Corporation of India Limited.

Cloud computing is the emerging technology for faster and on-demand commensurate deployment of server resources which result in reduced costs.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu said, “Efforts are being made to bring entire Railway system on Integrated Digital Platform. RailCloud is another step towards Digitization of Railways. RailCloud works on popular Cloud Computing system. Most Important works are done through Cloud Computing. Also, this is going to reduce the cost & data may be safely ensured on the servers.

Salient Features of the RailCloud

Indian Railway has started a strategic IT initiative, christened IR-OneICT, for enterprise wide digital single platform with an aim to improve customer satisfaction, improve revenue and effective, efficient and safe operations. To achieve the goal of single digital platform for IR a few foundational projects need to be implemented first, establishment of RailCloud is one such project.  Cloud Computing is the emerging technology for faster and on demand commensurate deployment of Server resources which result in reduced cost. Accordingly, RailCloud Phase-I has been sanctioned at the cost of Rs.53.55 Crore under PH-17, DF(3) in FY 17-18. Potential benefits to Railways after implementation of RailCloud are:

  • Faster and on-demand deployment of application- RailCloud will pave the way for swifter deployment of application (within 24 hrs as compared to conventional time running into weeks and months). At the same time the cloud hardware and environment will be available for rigorous testing of the new applications.
  • Optimum use of Servers and storage- The technology enables maximising the usage of the available server and storage resulting in accommodation of bigger data and more applications within same server space.
  • Utilization of existing infrastructure as part of Cloud- The existing resources available with railway will be subsumed in RailCloud thereby ensuring that expenditure is minimized in acquiring new resources.
  • Rapid scalability and elasticity- Server and storage space will scale up and down as per the demand. This makes the system suitable to meet the higher demand at peak hours with less expenditure.
  • IT Security enhancement and Standardization: The cloud shall be equipped with security features as per the latest GOI guidelines, the security features can be updated in one go for all the applications hosted on the cloud, resulting in enhanced security and stability with less expenditure and effort.
  • Cost reduction: The server and storage infrastructure will be deployed as per the requirement, resulting in substantial savings to railway as expenditure will be incurred as and when required instead of upfront shelling out money on procurement of expensive servers.
  • Better User Experience: In Cloud, the server resources are constantly scaled up or down as per the no. of users logged on to the system. This ensures a better user experience to the customer.

The Managed Network and Virtual Desktop Interface (VDI) services are also being planned, in near future, for providing faster and more efficient work environment to each rail worker.

NIVARAN – a Grievance Portal launched on RailCloud (first IT Application)

‘NIVARAN-Grievance Portal’ is the first IT application to be launched on the RailCloud. It is the platform for resolution of service related grievances of serving and former railway employees. The existing application was hosted on a conventional server; it has been made cloud-ready and being migrated as the first cloud application of Indian Railways. It will save significant revenue and at the same time user experience will also improve.

Railways starts cashless health care scheme for ex-employees

NEW DELHI: The Railways today rolled out a cashless health care scheme for its retired employees.

The Cashless Treatment Scheme in Emergency (CTSE) aims to provide comprehensive health care facilities to its beneficiaries through in-house health institutions, supplementing with referrals to recognised hospitals whenever necessary.

“Cashless Treatment Scheme in Emergency is another important step. Life expectancy has increased, so many health problems have evolved. This scheme would improve health care facilities for railway employees,” Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said after launching the CTSE here.

The CTSE beneficiaries include retired employees and their dependent family members.

Large number of retired beneficiaries live in the newly- developed suburbs of various cities. These parts of the city are often far away from the established railway health institutions.

In emergency situations, precious time is lost in travel.

In order to provide immediate care to retired employees in emergency, the CTSE facility will be utilised in empanelled hospitals for retired employees and their dependent family members.

A web-based system of communication between private hospitals and railway authorities has been developed wherein identity of the beneficiary shall be established using biometrics stored in Aadhaar (UIDAI) server, eligibility shall be determined using Railway Data Base and emergency shall be verified by a Railway Medical Officer based on the private hospital’s clinical report.

The Scheme fulfils both the avowed objectives of the GOI; utilizing IT tools to cut the red-tape and promoting cashless transactions.

Rather than creating a separate time and resource consuming vertical the scheme has used the existing resources by bringing on board the UIDAI and ARPAN database. Railway has not incurred any capital expenditure on the scheme, M/s UTIITSL has developed the software in consultation with Railway and shall be paid on per bill processed basis. The online processing will ensure swifter disposal of bills in a transparent manner.

The whole system is online and even the bill processing shall be online. This scheme shall provide help to retired railway employees at the time of need and will also have a morale boosting effect on serving employees.

At present, the scheme has been rolled out in four metro cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, and based on the experience of this pilot the scheme may be extended to the entire country.

Indian Railways to lauch ‘RailCloud’ to optimise Server Management

The state-run transporter will also launch Nivaran-Grievance Portal, the first IT Application on the RailCloud.

NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways will launch tomorrow RailCloud, a virtual server with an inbuilt security system that will enable faster connectivity at a reduced cost.

Developed by rail PSU RailTel at an estimated cost of about Rs 53 crore, RailCloud is aimed at optimising server resources and its management.

Cloud computing is an emerging technology for faster and on demand commensurate deployment of server resources which results in reduced cost.

“RailCloud technology enables maximising the usage of available server and storage resulting in accommodation of bigger data and more applications within same server space. This makes the system suitable to meet higher demand,” said a senior Railway Ministry official.

Currently all IT applications have separate servers which increase the cost of operations and purchases.

The state-run transporter will also launch tomorrow Nivaran-Grievance Portal, the first IT application on the RailCloud.

Nivaran is a platform for resolution of service-related grievances of serving and former railway employees.

RailCloud will cover all management related to various services like human resources, health and hospital, signal assets, freight and logistics and energy among others.

Asked about the security aspect of the system, the official said, “It is a private cloud which has an inbuilt security system. In fact it will improve security and reduce the cost by 30 per cent.”

The cloud shall be equipped with security features as per latest government guidelines. The security features can be updated in one go for all applications hosted on the cloud, resulting in enhanced security and stability with less expenditure and effort.

RailCloud will pave the way for swifter deployment of application within 24 hours as compared to conventional time running into weeks and months.

In Cloud, the server resources are constantly scaled up or down as per the number of users logged on to the system. This ensures a better user experience to the customer.

Companies offering these computing services are called cloud providers and typically charge for cloud computing services based on usage, similar to how you are billed for water or electricity at home.

Railways have started a strategic IT initiative, christened IR-OneICT, for enterprise wide digital single platform with an aim to improve customer satisfaction, improve revenue and effective, efficient and safe operations.

To achieve the goal of single digital platform for IR a few foundational projects need to be implemented first. Establishment of RailCloud is one such project.

Soon, Integrated Mobile App for Railways to book Flight Tickets, ordering Food

App is being developed by CRIS at an estimated cost of Rs.7 Crore: Railway Ministry official

NEW DELHI: Now one can book air tickets through a new mobile application which will be launched this week by the Railways.

The integrated mobile app will cater to various needs of passengers like booking porter, retiring room, ordering food besides train tickets.

It is being developed by the CRIS, the Railways’ software arm, at an estimated cost of Rs seven crore, said a senior Railway Ministry official involved with the project.

The official said currently there are multiple apps of the Railways to cater to various passenger requirement, including on board cleaning but most of them offer only a single service.

Mobile app users need to search and download each application separately and need to give a single window interface for these services, the official said.

Therefore there was a need to give a single window interface for these services, he said, adding besides train- related services, the integrated app can also be used for booking taxis, hotels and also air tickets.

The project for Integrated Railway Mobile App for Indian Railways was announced in the Rail Budget 2016-17.

“Presently we have different digital solutions for ticketing, grievance redressal and other issues. We intend to integrate all such facilities into two mobile apps, one dealing with all ticketing issues and the other for receipt and redressal of complaints and suggestions related to all our services,” Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had said in his budget speech.

Railways to install Barcoded Flap Gates at Stations

NEW DELHI: The Railways will go the Metro way and install automatic flap gates with bar code scanners at stations to facilitate faster ticket checking and ease the pressure on ticket examiners and collectors.

To begin with, the access control system, already operational in Kolkata and Delhi Metro services, will be implemented at non-metropolitan stations where traffic rush is very less.

CRIS, the software arm of the Railways, is on the job to make the new flap gate system operational at Brar Square station in Delhi Division as a pilot project.

The access control system at Brar Square will be functional in the next three months, said a senior Railway Ministry official involved with the project.

If successful, the system will enable the Railways to deal with the shortage of train ticket examiners and ticket collectors.

According to the system design, an encrypted QR code will be printed on unreserved tickets for the designated station where passengers need to enter or exit through these gates after validating their tickets.

The automatic flap gate system can handle faster entry or exit of passengers during the rush hour.

Besides installing automatic gates, there will be counters at the Brar Square station to provide QR-coded tickets to passengers for entry or exit.

Though the system is successfully tackling the Metro rush in Delhi and Kolkata, it has never been tried in the railway system.

While Metro stations are situated either at elevated or underground levels, railway stations are on the surface without boundary walls.

“We chose Brar station for conducting the trial because the passenger rush is limited here,” said the official.

As a first step, the entire station will be fenced so that no passenger escapes without ticket.

It costs about Rs 4 lakh to install the automatic gate with bar code facility.

Besides, there will be thermal printers at ticket counters for bar coded tickets.

PayTM launches PNR Status Tracker for Rail Tickets

NEW DELHI: PayTM has launched an online service on its rail-booking platform to enable customers to check their PNR Status instantly after booking train tickets on its platform.

More than 30 million Indians travel using the Indian Railways on a daily basis. This is the country’s single largest group of travellers. The PNR Status service on Paytm will offer this group a single platform to book and track train tickets, Paytm said.

Abhishek Rajan, Vice President, PayTM said “Our new PNR Status service is aimed at extending the trusted and convenient PayTM experience to waitlisted rail travellers booking tickets with us. This is the first of many exciting features that we have planned for this year in our endeavor to build the most compelling booking experience for rail travellers.”

Earlier this month, PayTM had announced that it is booking over 1 million train tickets in a month and has become India’s largest platform for train tickets booking after IRCTC. It stated it has also witnessed growth in its travel vertical, with more than 10 million tickets sold in FY 2017.

CR starts Digital Transaction facility at 15 Railway Stations

MUMBAI: Following mission Cashless India, Central Railway has started digital transaction facility at 15 stations in five divisions, said a senior official.

“Central Railway has enabled 100 per cent digital transactions at 15 nominated stations in all the five divisions including Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, Lokmanya Tilak Terminus and Thane station in Mumbai division, Pune, Miraj and Shri Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Terminus (Kolhapur) on Pune division.

“Solapur, Kopargaon and Sainagar Shirdi on Solapur division, Bhusaval, Amravati and Nasik Road on Bhusaval division and Nagpur, Ballarshah and Wardha on Nagpur division,” said Sunil Udasi, Chief PRO of the Central Railway.

He said all Passenger Reservation Systems (PRS), Unreserved Ticketing System (UTS), luggage, parcel, goods shed counters and departmental catering units in the above stations have been provided with POS (Point of Sales) machines to enable digital transactions.

Beside, private contractors have been instructed to avail facilities like Paytm to enable digital transactions, Udasi said.

Indian Railways has tied up with the State Bank of India (SBI) for this exercise, which has also stepped up its efforts in installing the PoS machines.

Sainagar Shirdi station of Solapur division has the distinction of being the first station on Central Railway to enable 100 per cent cashless transaction, Udasi said.

This facility (of cashless transaction) will also be extended to other stations very soon, he added.

With a view to promote cashless transaction on Indian Railways, ministry has decided to install 10,000 POS machines in association with State Bank of India at various locations of Indian Railways ie PRS locations, UTS locations, parcel or goods locations.

On World Wi-Fi Day, Google and Indian Railways connect millions of Rail Users

June 20 is World Wi-Fi Day and Google and Indian Railways have bridged the digital divide by connecting rail passengers with free Wi-Fi at 119 railway stations. World Wi-Fi day is a global initiative to help bridge the digital divide; a platform to recognize and celebrate the significant role Wi-Fi is playing in cities and communities around the world by driving exciting and innovative projects to ‘connect the unconnected’.

The Station Wi-fi For All project run by Google for the Railways currently connects millions of passengers with internet for free. When it is expanded to 400 stations, it is touted to become the world’s largest public Wi-Fi project.

Helping the Indian Railways spread connectivity to railway stations in cities and towns and every rail passenger is Internet giant Google.

The Wi-Fi For All project comes without any strings attached – it’s free and has no download limit once a user logs on using an authentication code. This is in a way also helping India bridge the digital divide.

When the project was conceived in 2015, a railway officer told that a PSU under Ministry  of Railways i.e. RailTel Corporation which is the largest neutral telecom infrastructure provider in the country owning a pan-India optic fiber network on exclusive right of way along railway tracks—used to provide the connectivity through its broadband service RailWire. But, soon, the free service ran into problems and led to many complaints. As RailTel had already tied up with Google for providing technology, the Internet giant itself took over the responsibility of providing the service.

A railway officer said, RailTel had roped in Google as its technology partner for setting up and providing a fast Wi-Fi network covering 400 stations. As of now, passengers can log in from 119 stations. Once implemented, this will be the largest public Wi-Fi project in the world.

Now, Google’s own routers connect users at blazing speeds that enable them to download entertainment, browse through mails or even to just check if the train they are on is running on time. The Wi-Fi is available to any user with a working mobile connection on a smartphone.

How does it operate? A user can log on by going to the website railwire.co.in, entering their phone number and choosing ‘receive SMS’; an OTP is generated and the user can then get connected.

Tej Kiran, a social media marketer who used the free Wi-Fi at Yesvantpur station in Bengaluru last week said internet speed was good. “In a matter of minutes, I found that some of the videos I had received on my WhatsApp, which I was unable to open earlier, had downloaded without much effort.

I was able to view many videos which would have taken a lot of time to download through my phone service provider. There is no limit too on the volume and, once connected, the user is always connected to the system,” Kiran added.

Railway officers say the speed is such that passengers waiting for a train or those on a train at some stations can use this free facility to stream high-density videos, download movies, songs, do office work online, check emails and even play games.

At some stations, there are complaints that the Wi-Fi connection gets disconnected after 30 minutes. “We found free internet was leading to non-passengers using them too. We want only genuine passengers to use them. At passing stations, trains rarely stop for 30 minutes, so we will soon have a 30-minute free limit. If the user wants to continue they will have to pay,” an officer said.

Vyoma Media founder Shriranga K. Sudhakara says that his company’s 2,000-plus screens are all currently connected on the cloud in 21 railway divisions. Vyoma Media is an ad-tech company that places advertisements dynamically for brands on TV screens fixed at rail stations that display adverts as well as social messages.

“Now with fast Wi-Fi connectivity at railway stations, we can geo-locate users and create ads based on user interests,” Sudhakara says.

June 20, 2017 is the inaugural year of World Wi-Fi Day. It is being celebrated by the Wireless Broadband Alliance, which came up with this initiative in the hope to accelerate affordable wireless connectivity around the world.

Its hope for connectivity charter directs attention of cities, government bodies, telephone operators, technology vendors and internet giants towards the critical influence and success of wireless connectivity in bridging the digital divide.

High speed train corridor to ensure non-stop net connectivity

Rail passengers can soon enjoy uninterrupted Internet connectivity with the Railways all set to equip main trunk routes with high speed mobile communication system.

This will also help in real-time monitoring of assets besides ensuring direct communication between gangmen and loco pilots and station masters on condition of tracks. Considered as one of the areas essential for transforming rail operation, the state-run transporter will be setting up the high speed mobile communication corridor at an estimated cost of Rs 5,000 crore through PPP model.

Currently, the Railways has been using wireless systems for operational applications. It has deployed GSM-R networks on select routes for operational voice communications between train drivers and train controllers.

“Now we are planning to migrate to LTE-R (Long Term Evolution-Railways) technology from GSM-R (Global System for Mobile Communication-Railways), for creating high speed train communication corridor,” said a senior official of the signal and telecom wing of the Railway Ministry.

The high speed mobile corridor aims to support various safety, train operation and train management systems apart from offering broadband service to passengers.

Today, passengers expect uninterrupted Internet connectivity while travelling by train or at stations. The system shall fulfil all these needs of passengers by setting up dedicated broadband network along the railway tracks, said the official. The high speed mobile communication system would enable the public transporter to have next generation mobile train radio communication between control office and crew of the trains for safe train operations.

It would also improve travel comfort of passengers by providing real-time multimedia information and access to social networks in stations or on the go.

It is expected that once implemented, the corridor will not only help in real-time monitoring of the assets, its maintenance and management, but will also help the Railways to provide next generation mobile train radio communication between control office and crew of the trains for safe train operations.

The Railways has implemented mobile train radio communication system on 2,541 route km and further works on 3,408 route km are in progress. Besides monitoring assets, it would provide a better passenger comfort and journey experience such as onboard Internet access, video on demand or other entertainment.

Japan pushes for Bengaluru-Chennai high-speed rail

Japan has reiterated its keenness to take up the high-speed train project between Bengaluru and Chennai.

Japan’s Ambassador to India Kenji Hiramatsu, who met Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Saturday, stated that Japan was keen to expand the high-speed rail network in India.

Hiramatsu was in Bengaluru to participate in the launch of the Green Line of Namma Metro. The ambassador discussed the progress and implementation of several projects in Bengaluru taken up utilising funds from financial institutions in Japan.

Japan uses the Shinkansen bullet train technology which is proposed to be utilised for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed train.

Railways to float Content on Demand and Rail Radio tenders next week

The service will first be made available on Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto.

CHENNAI: The journey on board premium trains, such as Rajdhani and Shatabdi, will soon be entertaining for passengers. It has been learnt that tenders for content on demand (CoD) and rail radio (RR) services will be floated next week. It is expected to be rolled out in a phased manner by next year.

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Railways released the CoD and RR policy.

According to officials, the rationale behind the policy was to augment non-fare revenue, by monetising entertainment-based services on trains and stations. The policy had earmarked a contract period of 10 years. It was proposed to allow contracted parties to provide content like movies and TV shows, with a revenue of more than `6,000 crore expected to be generated by the end of contract period.

The ministry had appointed RailTel, a public sector enterprise owned by Railways, as the nodal agency to carry out the process. A RailTel official said the tender documents have been finalised and bids will be opened this week. The applicants can be a consortium, comprising of individual content providers. “It is expected that the tendering process will take around three months. We hope to start work from August,” the official said.

The CoD and RR will be provided through personal devices of passengers. “There will be a library of digital content listing audio and video shows. Users can choose to watch any content, paid or free,” the official explained.

The service will first be made available on Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto. Railways has launched a series of initiatives, including advertising and branding, to increase non-fare revenue, to offset the dependence on earnings from the passenger and freight segment. Although total earnings from the passenger segment in 2016-2017 is estimated to be around `47,400 crore, officials say it did not match projections.

IRCTC offers mVisa payment solution for Travellers

NEW DELHI: Rail travellers can now book tickets by mVisa payment method which allows them to scan a Quick Response (QR) code and pay through smartphones. mVisa is a card-less solution which facilitates payment by scanning the QR code displayed at the merchant website/outlet or from the merchants mobile. Users can securely link their visa debit, credit or prepaid account to the mVisa application on their smartphones and make their travel bookings by simply scanning their mVisa QR code on the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation website. IRCTC, a subsidiary of the Indian Railways, is offering a promotion offer until September 4 that will give Rs 50 cashback to consumers booking their tickets through mVisa scan and pay on the IRCTC website.

The mVisa QR Code is a form of a bar code that has your unique seller identity embedded securely embedded in it (Merchant id, Account no.). Your customer will just need to scan this QR code with the scanner built in the mVisa app to start the payment process.

“The key to our success as India’s largest e-commerce organisation has been our ability to embrace new technologies that help us drive consumer engagement across our platform,” IRCTC CMD AK Manocha said today. India is currently one of the major smartphone markets in the world, with over a billion smartphones expected to be sold in the next five years. “Considering the phenomenal penetration of smartphones in India, moving to a mobile based payment solution such as mVisa was thus a natural choice for IRCTC,” Manocha said.

The increasing popularity and adoption of mobile devices presents a huge opportunity for the growth of mobile-based digital commerce. The mVisa payment solution on IRCTC can potentially empower millions of consumers spread across Indian cities, towns and villages, to make payments using just their smartphones from the comfort of their homes.

So, from now onwards, whenever you are planning to book train tickets with great discount offers, IRCTC have something flat Rs 50 cashback on your train ticket booking through irctc.co.in via credit, debit, pre-paid Visa cards or else using your classic, platinum, signature gold or visa infinite cards to grab this offer. The redemption period of the offer is upto 23rd August 2017.

Steps To Redeem Rs 50 Cashback On Train Ticket Using m-Visa Card
  • Visit irctc.in.co
  • Register or login to the website.
  • Enter Your Train details like Train Name, Boarding and Destination place.
  • Now select your journey date and also in which class you want to book your ticket.
  • Now proceed to the transaction age.
  • No login to your Bank’s mobile app.
  • Select scan and pay option.
  • Scan the QR code displayed on the screen.
  • Pay the amount using a visa card.
  • Your train ticket booking is done, Cashback of Rs 50 will be credited to your bank account within 30 days of the successful transaction.
Terms And Conditions
  • Get Rs 50 cashback when you book your train ticket on irctc.in.co by using your m-visa card only.
  • The cashback offer is only applicable when you book your ticket during offer period of 24th April to 23rd August 2017.
  • This offer is applicable only on online booking and valid for first 5 Lakh scan and pay transactions via visa card.
  • This offer cannot be clubbed with any of the other offers of irctc.
  • A customer can book the unlimited ticket as there are no monthly limits for availing this offer.
  • In the case of any doubt or payment/cashback related issues call on IRCTC Toll-free number- 011-3934000 or mail to care@irctc.in

IR approaches MEITY to bring down the digital transaction limit to 80 crore    

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways is finding it difficult to achieve 100 crore digital transactions target set by the Centre for financial year 2017-18 and has asked the ministry of electronics and information technology (MEITY), the nodal ministry, to bring it down to 80 crore.

Giving a push to Digital India campaign post demonetization in November 2016, Union finance minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech had announced that a mission will be set up with a target of 2,500 crore digital transactions for 2017-18 through UPI, USSD, Aadhar Pay, IMPS and debit cards.

After the announcement, MEITY had issued targets to all central ministries, PSUs and central banks among others to achieve the target. At present such transactions stand at nearly 1600 core.

Railways combined targets, including six metros, stands at 225 crore transactions. Of this Indian Railways has been asked to make 100 crore digital transactions from the current 60 crore.

“We are still negotiating with the MEITY and have informed that how difficult it is to achieve. We have asked them that it should be kept 80 crore for us rather than 100 crore,” said a senior railway board officer.

He said that post demonetization railway has already installed 7000 POS (point of sale) machines and target is to install above 30,000 for financial year 2017-18.

Indian Railways freight segment transactions are 99.5 percent cashless and the focus is now on the passenger segment.

“Railways public transactions, staff salaries, contracts are all digital. But these are very less and so we will get numbers from passenger transactions,” said the official.

Railways make 60 crore digital transaction annually and of these 30 crore transactions are made through unreserved ticketing system (UTS) while 24 crore transactions through e-ticketing.

The MEITY recently has also conducted a meeting with industry associations for promotion of digital payments.

Backup Signalling System at various strategically important Stations on Indian Railways mooted

NEW DELHI: To provide an alternate to the Route Relay Interlocking (RRI) System that operates rail line points and signals, the railways will soon introduce a Backup Signaling System (BBS) for smooth train operations.

The move comes after a major fire broke out at the Route Relay Interlocking panel at Itarsi Railway Station in June, 2015. It had led to major disruptions in railway traffic with over 2,000 trains being cancelled.

An official with Ratlam division of the Western railways said the new system operates through fibre optics and can help prevent disruptions in train services. “This will provide a backup for the entire train route at the railway station. The system is designed in such a way that it may be easy to transfer data to a laptop or a similar equipment and allow trains to pass through,” he said.

He added that the introducing this system will ensure that at least 90 per cent of trains can be operated when a signal cabin is disabled.

“Developed by the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO), the new backup system will be introduced in all railway stations. The railways has already started its trial at Nishatpura railway station under West Central Railways,” said a spokesman with Ratlam division of the western railways. The commissioner of Railway Safety has also approved this newly introduced system.

There are backup systems for each function like electrical interlocking, power supply, panels, signals and others at the station. But there was no backup for the entire train management system at the stations, and the RDSO was in the process to develop and install such a system.

The move is also part of automatic safety systems like protection of trains and warning systems.

Suresh Prabhu inaugurates WI-FI Facilities at 28 Konkan Rail Stations

Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, on Sunday, inaugurated free Wi-Fi facility at 28 railway stations on Konkan Railway. He also inaugurated improved passenger amenities and facilities at Kudal and Chiplun stations.

Konkan Railway has tied up with broadband and internet service provider Joister to provide Wi-Fi facility at its stations. “We are launching free Wi-Fi facility at the railway stations across the country under the Digital India campaign. CEO of Google Sundar Pichai too has shown interest in this project. We are committed to enhance and enrich the passenger comfort across the Indian Railways and believe that we would do it,” said Prabhu.

Nikunj Kampani, CMD of Joister Infoserve, said, “Through our network, we have now started 24-hours free Wi-Fi with 2 mbps and it will cover the station entrance and the surrounding area with unlimited data download.”

A statement issued by Konkan Railway said that in order to access free Wi-Fi, the user has to open the Joispot mobile app and register using his/her name and mobile number and request for one time password (OTP). “Unlimited free Wi-Fi facility will be provided at 28 stations from Kolad to Madure in the initial phase with a peer to peer speed of 2 mbps. The system can provide access to about 300 users at bigger stations and about 100 users at smaller stations,” said the statement.

“This facility will help commuters and tourists on Konkan Railway to access essential information and they could use their time productively while waiting for trains at railway stations,” it said.

Prabhu also inaugurated passenger amenities and facilities at Kudal station, which include construction of VIP room, widening of platform no 1 and 2, among others.

Improved passenger amenities at Chiplun station include renovation of waiting hall, 30-metre-long additional conventional shelter on platform no 2, additional concrete benches on platforms, 15 modular shelters on both platforms, one additional bio-toilet unit on platform no 2.

Railway Board convenes Round Table Conference on Data Analytics for Indian Railways

Railways to monetise available data: says Suresh Prabhu while inaugurating the Round Table Conference on Data Analytics for Indian Railways.
Union Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu addressing the senior officers of the Ministry while inaugurating the Data Analytics for Indian Railways at Railway Board, New Delhi on 16/5/2016

NEW DELHI: Minister of Railways, Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu inaugurated Round Table Conference on “Data Analytics for Indian Railways”. Chairman Railway Board, Shri AK Mital, other Railway Board Members, representatives and dignitaries from industry and senior officials from Railway Board were also present on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion Shri Suresh Prabhu said that a series of Round Table Conferences are being conducted to ideate on various issues concerning Indian Railways. This Round Table Conference is to ideate on Data Analytics on Indian Railways. He also said that Data creation is phenomenal in Indian Railways to carry out commercial and operational opportunity. Data Analytics must be studied, analysed and monitored to improve Indian Railways’ program. Technology is ever evolving, need of the hour is to progress with Data Analytics. Indian Railways shall be the growth engine. Data Analytics can help to create a system that may benefit Railways immensely. Indian Railways is one of the largest Data creators in the world, it has to handle large volume of Data. Data Analytics is a way forward. Data needs to be used wisely. Privacy shall be protected and one of the largest ERP is created in Indian Railways.

The railways has data on crew management, track maintenance, rolling stock maintenance involving locomotives, wagon and coaches and expenditure accounting. “All of this together creates mammoth data which is probably one of the largest in the world but data itself is of no use unless it is tabulated into something,” Prabhu said.

Background:

Indian Railways has been using information technology extensively for the past three decades. As a result, large amount of data are available in different aspects of the Railways working such as Passenger Ticketing, Freight Operations, Crew Management, Track Maintenance, Rolling Stock Maintenance (Locomotive), Rolling Stock Maintenance(Wagon and Coaches), Expenditure Accounting etc.

In order to assist the management in taking effective strategic and tactical decisions, Railways have decided to use Data Analytics for Analysis of Data using various statistical and software tools. Data Analytics can help Railways in determining pricing of services, planning train operations on various routes, proactive safety measures and disaster management, predictive maintenance of assets to avoid failures etc.

PRS has data of trains, passengers, earnings, utilization of trains, class wise occupancy, waiting lists and passenger profile is also available in e-ticketing system. This huge data can be analysed to help in Providing innovative products to passengers so that occupancy is improved and passenger is able to get confirmed accommodation.

Freight Operations Information System has data of traffic carried on various routes, the time taken in transportation, the commodities transported, customers, price sensitivity of various streams of traffic etc.

Data Analytics can help in improving throughput and average speed of freight trains. Track Management System has data about condition of track, maintenance of track from time to time, inspection conducted, track renewal, deep screening, rail fractures etc. Data Analytics can help in Predicting vulnerable spots and preventive maintenance.

Ransomware Attack: Over 20 Systems affected in DRM Office, Palakkad Division

Various services like passenger reservations, ticket booking and the traffic, however, were not affected.
Office of the Divisional Railway Manager, Palakkad Division, Southern Railway.

PALAKKAD: A day after the computers of four village panchayats in Kerala were hit, 23 computers of the Railway Division office in Palakkad came under cyber attack on Tuesday.

A statement issued by the railway authorities here said that 23 out of the 500 computers were affected by the ransomware cyber attack. However, it said the data on the affected computers had back up and were stored in printed files and hence there was no loss of data.

It said the railways uses a different system for ticketing and other passenger related issues and cargo movements, which have not been affected at all.

“The cyber attack was noticed on 23 computers which flashed the message of asking money to be paid in bitcoins, or warned the data would be lost forever. Since all the affected computers contained document files pertaining to the employees, that have backed up files, the data loss is only temporary,” said the statement.

It said the railways uses a different system for ticketing and other passenger related issues and cargo movements, which have not been affected at all.

German Rail operator ‘Deutsche Bahn’ affected by Global Cyber Attack

A fast-moving wave of cyber attacks that swept the globe Friday targeted German rail operator Deutsche Bahn. Global cyber attack put ransoms on German rail station screens. Situation could get worse today, experts say

BERLIN: German rail operator Deutsche Bahn said on Saturday its systems were infected by a global cyber attack that caused computer turmoil in nearly 100 countries.

It said in a statement that train services were not disrupted but some electronic boards at stations announcing arrivals and departures had been affected.

The software attacks exploited a flaw exposed in documents leaked from the US National Security Agency and use a technique known as ransomware that locks users’ files unless they pay the attackers a designated sum in the virtual currency Bitcoin, reports news agency AFP.

The ransomware demands payment of 275 euros in Bitcoin within three days or the price is doubled, and if none is received in seven days, the files will be deleted, according to a screen message.

Affected by the onslaught were computer networks at hospitals in Britain, Russia’s interior ministry, the Spanish telecom giant Telefonica and the US delivery firm FedEx, as well as organisations in Sweden.

The US Department of Homeland Security’s computer emergency response team said it was aware of ransomware infections “in several countries around the world.”

Jakub Kroustek of the security firm Avast said in a blog post update around 2000 GMT, “We are now seeing more than 75,000 detections… in 99 countries.”

Germany’s Deutsche Bahn (DB) computers were also impacted, with the company reporting on Saturday morning that display panels in the stations were affected.

Deutsche Bahn information screens and ticket machines were also hit, reports AFP.

Travellers tweeted pictures of hijacked departure boards showing the ransom demand instead of train times. But DB insisted that trains were running as normal.

On Saturday, a cyber security researcher told AFP he had accidentally discovered a “kill switch” that can prevent the spread of the ransomware.

The researcher, tweeting as @MalwareTechBlog, said the discovery was accidental, but that registering a domain name used by the malware stops it from spreading. Computers already affected will not be helped by the solution.

However @MalwareTechBlog warned that the “crisis isn’t over” as those behind it “can always change the code and try again.”

The ransomware’s name is WCry, but analysts were also using variants such as WannaCry.

“It’s unequivocally scary,” said John Dickson of the Denim Group, a US security consultancy.

Dickson said the malware itself, which exploits a flaw in Windows, was not new but that adding the ransomware “payload” made it especially dangerous.

“I’m watching how far this propagates and when governments get involved,” he said.

Microsoft released a patch to protect against vulnerability to the ransomware in March, but many systems may not have been updated.

Pictures posted online by travelers showed red windows appearing on announcement boards with a message demanding a cash payment to restore access. Deutsche Bahn said it was working to rectify the problem.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said government computer systems were not affected.

The cyber attack hit international shipper FedEx and disrupted Britain’s health care system. Researchers at security software maker Avast said they had observed 57,000 infections in 99 countries with Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan the top targets.

Cyber extortionists used ransomware to encrypt data on the computers, demanding payments of $300 to $600 to restore access. Victims were tricked into opening malicious malware attachments to spam emails that appeared to contain invoices, job offers, security warnings and other legitimate files.

The most disruptive attacks were reported in Britain, where hospitals and clinics were forced to turn away patients after losing access to computers.

Security experts are warning that the global cyberattack that began on Friday will probably be magnified in the new workweek as users return to their offices and turn on their computers.

Many workers, particularly in Asia, had logged off on Friday before the malicious software, stolen from the U.S. government, began proliferating across computer systems around the world. So the true effect of the attack may emerge on Monday as employees return and log in.

Moreover, copycat variants of the malicious software behind the attacks have begun to spread, according to experts. “We are in the second wave,” said Matthieu Suiche of Comae Technologies, a cybersecurity company based in the United Arab Emirates. “As expected, the attackers have released new variants of the malware. We can surely expect more.”

Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre said Sunday that it had seen “no sustained new attacks” but warned that compromised computers might not have been detected yet and that the malware could further spread within networks.

So far, the main targets of the ransomware attack have been outside North America. It is not assumed that this will continue to be the case.

Monday could bring a wave of attacks to North America, warned Caleb Barlow, vice-president of threat intelligence for IBM. “How the infections spread across Asia, then Europe overnight will be telling for businesses here in the United States,” he said.

The cyberattack hit 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries, according to Rob Wainwright, executive director of Europol, the European Union’s police agency.

Among the organizations hit were FedEx in the United States, the Spanish telecom giant Telefonica, the French automaker Renault, universities in China, Germany’s federal railway system and Russia’s Interior Ministry. The most disruptive attacks infected Britain’s public health system.

The cyberattack could have been worse, it appears. It was stemmed by a young British researcher and an inexpensive domain registration, with help from another 20-something security engineer in the U.S.

National Cyber Security Centre in the U.K. and others were hailing the cybersecurity researcher, a 22-year-old identified online only as MalwareTech, who — unintentionally at first — discovered a “kill switch” that halted the unprecedented outbreak.

By then, the “ransomware” attack had hobbled Britain’s hospital network and computer systems in several countries, in an effort to extort money from computer users. But the researcher’s actions may have saved companies and governments millions of dollars and slowed the outbreak before computers in North America were more widely affected.

MalwareTech said in a blog post Saturday that he had returned from lunch with a friend on Friday and learned that networks across Britain’s health system had been hit by ransomware, tipping him off that “this was something big.”

He began analyzing a sample of the malicious software and noticed its code included a hidden web address that wasn’t registered. He said he “promptly” registered the domain, something he regularly does to try to discover ways to track or stop malicious software.

Read more:Ontario health ministry on high alert amid global cyberattack

Across an ocean, Darien Huss, a 28-year-old research engineer for the cybersecurity firm Proofpoint, was doing his own analysis. The Michigan resident said he noticed the authors of the malware had left in a feature known as a kill switch. Huss took a screen shot of his discovery and shared it on Twitter.

MalwareTech and Huss are part of a large global cybersecurity community of people, working independently or for security companies, who are constantly watching for attacks and working together to stop or prevent them, often sharing information via Twitter. It’s not uncommon for them to use aliases, either to protect themselves from retaliatory attacks or for privacy.

Soon Huss and MalwareTech were communicating about what they’d found: That registering the domain name and redirecting the attacks to the server of Kryptos Logic, the security firm Malware Tech worked for, had activated the kill switch, halting the ransomware’s infections — creating what’s called a “sinkhole.”

Who perpetrated this wave of attacks remains unknown.

Huss and others were calling MalwareTech a hero on Saturday, with Huss adding that the global cybersecurity community was working “as a team” to stop the infections from spreading.

“I think the security industry as a whole should be considered heroes,” he said.

SWR Moving ahead in Digital/Cashless Transactions

HUBBALLI: In tune with the directives of Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, South Western Railway has joined the digital revolution, installing Point of Sale (POS) machines for cashless/digital transactions.

To promote cashless economy SWR has planned to install Point of Sale (POS) machines for digital transactions at the Reservation offices, Parcel offices and Booking offices at the different locations.   140 POS machines have already been installed in the first phase.  These Cashless transactions can be made through Debit Card, Credit Card, e-wallets, prepaid cards, Mobile Apps like PayTM, Rupay, Bhim, SBI-UPI Apps, Adhar based digital payment mode etc.

The list of Railway Stations which have been energised with POS Devices are available in the attached file: POS List. These machines have been provided at 140 locations as under:

SNo. Division At PRS counter At UTS cum PRS counter Parcel Office Total
1. Hubballi 12 20 10 42
2. Bengaluru 22 32 5 59
3. Mysuru 11 24 4 39
4. SWR 45 76 19 140

To promote digital payment on Railways and as a part of the Government Policy, 100 stations over Indian Railways are being made 100 % digital enabled stations DIGIPAY stations.  At these station all transaction points  viz. Ticket Counters, Parcel Office, Cloak Room, Food court, parking stand, Retiring Rooms, Prepaid AC waiting Hall, Tea Stalls, Fruit & Juice Centres, Catering units, Book stalls, Diary Parlour etc. Passengers can avail all services by payment through digital modes.

On SWR, 4 stations i.e. KSR Bengaluru, Bengaluru Cant., Yesvantpur & Krishnarajapuram have been declared as DIGIPAY stations wherein digital payment can be made for all services availed.

Google-RailTel’s Wi-Fi project uses Cloud-Native NFV to Deliver Wi-Fi to Millions

Google puts Cloud-Native NFV to the Test in Wi-Fi Services on Indian Railways!

SAN JOSE, CA / NEW DELHI — Google is demonstrating that it’s possible to deliver carrier-class WiFi service by using cloud-native network functions virtualization (NFV) for efficiency gains and cost savings.   The company is working with India’s state-owned PSU, RailTel, to deliver WiFi services at hundreds of railway stations throughout India by using a Google Cloud-based virtual evolved packet core (vEPC).

With a 116-station WiFi network already built at the Railway Stations, Google says it’s building evidence that carrier services can indeed be delivered in a cloud-native fashion, based on microservices built from containers. The program, which was first announced in late 2015, is part of the Google Access & Energy Team. The goal is to offer WiFi service in 400 train stations by 2018. So far 116 stations have been outfitted with the service.

Google is now delivering Wi-Fi access in Indian railway stations using a virtual Evolved Packet Core (vEPC) running in its cloud infrastructure, said Geng Lin, Head of Global Engineering, Global Markets, at Google, in a keynote address at Layer123 NFV World Congress in San Jose, California

“I think the cloud-native model is here for NFV, and I believe re-imagining carrier network services as cloud-native is possible,” said Geng Lin, CTO of Enterprise Network and Infrastructure Services at Google, speaking at this week’s Layer 123 NFV World Congress here. the WiFi service is currently attracting six million monthly users that consume about 200 Terabits (Tb) of data per day. When complete, Google expects the RailTel WiFi service to support about 30 million monthly users.

Of course, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) has a few advantages over your everyday telco. The applications in question are greenfield and don’t carry a decades-long legacy. Google isn’t messing with tectonic layers of OSS amassed via acquisitions, nor is it being held to five-nines reliability — and the company has ready access to a large public cloud (Google Cloud Platform) for “free.”

Still, the Railwire project provides a look at the possibilities for the microservices approach in an NFV world. It’s working at scale. Google believes its deployment will rank among the largest over-the-top broadband services ever created, having grown to about 6 million users per month; Google expects that figure to be 30 million when the project is done.

Lin’s talk was also a sequel to last year’s NFV World Congress, when Google first presented the Railtel project. The first station connected to the WiFi network launched in January 2016; Google is now up to 116 stations and aims to reach 400 in 2018.

The network’s control plane is virtual, hosted in Google Cloud Platform and split up into microservices.

“As the network software-ization becomes reality, [and with] the separation of the control plane functions from the data plane, we see most of those control-plane functions are software, and you can easily decompose them and reconstruct them into the cloud,” Lin said.

The microservices Google has developed include a vast amount of monitoring, and that’s where analytics come in. In place of traditional OSS, Google is using a cloud-based analytics platform, a key step toward creating a network that can respond to changing conditions automatically.

“Instead of just paying attention to the so-called abnormal events, we actually collect network health data at a constant rate, regardless of whether anything goes good or bad,” Lin said.

That’s been a trend in analytics and security. Vendors are experimenting with recording literally everything a network does — something that’s become feasible only in recent years — and then using machine learning or some similar technology to winnow the information.

This makes it possible to monitor the network’s health comprehensively. But the real goal is to cut down on human interaction with the network. According to Lin, Google uses its analytics not only to alert humans if something has gone wrong, but also to indicate what the impact is — which services have been affected, for instance. That reduces the time humans spend on analysis and triage.

The analytics platform can also trigger the network to fix itself, in the case of problems that are simple enough — again cutting down on human intervention.

As a result, two engineers are enough to monitor this network that’s serving 6 million people per month, Lin said.

Lin outlined four key elements of the network:

  • A cloud-based virtual control plane.
  • A cloud-based service operations platform.
  • Fiber backhaul. RailTel provides the fiber backhaul through its fiber-optic network that runs along most of the company’s railroad tracks covering about 26,000 miles.
  • An analytics platform.

Lin said Google’s analytics platform constantly collects network data and runs it through various analytics models to provide a real-time assessment of the network. “This system cuts down significantly on human intervention,” Lin said. “At this moment, to run a service with millions of monthly users you only need two engineers behind the scenes.”

Bigger Implications

Perhaps even more important than providing WiFi service throughout Indian train stations is that Google is showcasing a new way to deliver network services using the public cloud. “At the network architecture level it is getting to the stage where we can massively commoditize the network function services through software, which fundamentally changes the control plane,” Lin said. “When you transform the control plane architecture, you can alter the capex structure.”

Training for Project implementation Teams

Google is in discussions with Bangalore based RPS Consulting Pvt Ltd for rendering technology training sessions on the network functions virtualization (NFV) not only for greater efficiency gains and cost savings, but also moving beyond Cost Optimization to Agile Service Creation & Scaling.

Western Railway to bring Local Train schedule to your Mobile

MUMBAI: For the first time, commuters on the Western Railway suburban system will soon be able to locate any train in real-time using its mobile phone app called Digital Interface of Stations for Help and Amenities or Disha, which currently provides details of train timings and station-wise information of amenities.

According to the Western Railway (WR) officials, Disha, which was launched in February will receive two new features — live update of the trains and time table of the suburban trains. Officials said the two additions were already in the final stages of being rolled out and would go live for passengers by this month end.

Presently along with providing general railway information, Disha also offers railway commuters the assistance of locating an automated ticket vending machine (ATVM), auto/taxi stands, booking windows, bus stands, divyang window, enquiry counters, entry and exit points, subway locations etc. The mobile App will also provide station-wise data of tickets sold, no of passengers per station, nearby refreshment loutlets, ATMs, Railway Protection Force and Government Railway Police posts etc.

“The application is very user friendly and popular among passengers who know about it. We have tried putting each and every single detail about the stations of the Western Railway from RPF offices to nearby ATMs,” said a senior WR official.

Citing an example, railway officials said that the live update of trains will mean that if a Borivali train arriving in the next 07 minutes at platform number 3 is to get cancelled due to some technical problem, Disha will announce the arrival of the Virar train in 12 minutes at platform number 2.

Once downloaded the App would not need Internet. WR’s Sr.Divisional Commercial Manager, Aarti Singh Pratihar told that the trials of the live train updates were found it to be working well. “We used to get many complaints about the commuters getting confused about the location of ticket offices, entry / exit points and other station details. We have tried to make this App as simple to operate as possible and hope that it proves to be helpful to the new passengers in the city,” she said.

Manoj Mishra, a regular commuter who crosses between Central and Western Railway stations termed the initiative as a good one by the railways. “I used to have lots of trouble for getting the locations of ticket window and ATVM machines. But after I downloaded this App, I dont need to ask around.

“The live update of train idea is also a good idea,” Mr Mishra said. The officials informed that the live update of the local train options will be very useful in case of train cancellations and delayed trains. “At times of cancellations and delayed the information and expected timing will be put on the app immediately to avoid the panic between the passengers at such times,” added the official.

IoT logistics technology gaining speed in Freight industry

Initially slow to take off, the Internet of Things is enabling sophisticated sensors that give logistics providers more visibility into inventory and freight vehicles.

Mention the internet of things, and most people immediately think of consumer electronics, wearables, smart homes and connected cars. The fact is that IoT logistics technology is also helping businesses optimize their logistics operations. But despite the proliferation of the internet of things (IoT) in many industries — Gartner predicts there will be 20.4 billion connected things by 2020 — growth has been slower in the freight and logistics area, said John Maley, global leader for freight logistics at IBM, based in Armonk, N.Y.

“In my specific area, we’re just starting to see IoT technology really take hold because this industry is … a bit medieval in terms of adopting leading-edge technology,” Maley said. “[Logistics companies] tend to be slow followers, in most cases, except perhaps for the UPSes and the FedExes of the world.”

However, the freight and logistics industry is starting to adopt and adapt to IoT technologies, such as sensors (specifically for tracking equipment and freight), to solve a big problem in the sector: the visibility of freight, which is traditionally a manual and error-prone process.

“We certainly see the introduction of devices which could actually track the freight itself,” Maley said. “Let’s say you put a device on a marine container, and it can report its GPS location at regular intervals … to whoever is authorized to know that information. Now you’ve definitely changed the game in terms of tracking and visibility in the industry.”

Stan Aronow, a vice president in the supply research group at Gartner, based in Stamford, Conn., agreed with Maley about the importance of IoT logistics technology when it comes to knowing where goods are in real time.

From a visibility perspective, using sensors on pallets allows companies to track and trace products once they’re on trucks heading to their destinations, he said. These sensors collect and send location information to dispatchers via cloud-based fleet management systems that can be distributed to the companies shipping the goods, as well as their customers.

“You could know exactly where things are,” Aronow said. “Certainly, having visibility into where groups of products are at the pallet level and the truckload level is helpful to a store for their planning. Ultimately, they can wring more inventory out of the system because, when they didn’t have that visibility, there was more uncertainty as to when something was going to be delivered, and they may [have had to place additional orders].”

Tracking in-transit visibility and inventory is how a number of companies have initially deployed IoT logistics technologies, agreed Kirstin Simonson, second vice president and cyber lead at Travelers Global Technology, part of New York-based The Travelers Companies.

Companies have been using radio frequency identification (RFID) and GPS to track assets as they move from point A to point B for several years. But now, not only are they putting RFID chips in pallets, they’re using various integrated IoT logistics devices to enable them to share a lot of data about environmental factors, such as weather, that might impact whether items get where they need to be.

“If you think about heat-sensitive items, you can have sensors that are telling you [the weather] is too warm where this is, or it’s too cold where this is,” Simonson said. “You now have the ability to predict to that a little bit better, or react to it more quickly.”

For instance, if there’s a big storm on the East Coast, the dispatcher or central command would then be able to reroute the truckers a different way, she said.

“Or, if the sensors alert the dispatcher that something is going on in the back of the truck, or in the cargo hold, the dispatcher has the opportunity to make adjustments and take corrective action,” Simonson said.

Firms can also use sensor technology to keep track of temperatures inside their vehicles to ensure perishable products are safe, according to Kevin Beasley, CIO of VAI, an ERP software provider based in Ronkonkoma, N.Y.

In food distribution, IoT tags on items can provide companies with certain information, such as when an item became product to be shipped, the temperatures in transit, as well as how long it took the product to get to the retailer, he said.

“The tags can show how fresh the product is, and if it ever was exposed to an environment that’s not conducive to that food product,” Beasley added.

IoT capabilities also allow a logistics team to have a view into what’s happening with the company’s vehicles. A connected vehicle can alert a dispatcher if it has been idling in one place for too long, which could mean it has broken down or that someone is tampering with it or its contents.

However, despite the positive aspects of implementing IoT technology, there can also be security issues. Some IoT devices aren’t as secure as they should be, meaning somebody could get into them and alter the data, such as the expiration date of a food product, Beasley said.

“And depending on what that product is, that could be a trivial thing, or something much worse,” he added.

In fact, security and networking in general have been placed under various degrees of strain as a result of mobile applications in devices connecting across the internet and IoT, said Kenneth Ammon, chief strategy and technology officer at OPAQ Networks Inc., a cybersecurity startup based in Herndon, Va.

The more widespread use of a mix of cloud, mobile and IoT logistics technologies has obscured organizations’ abilities to see what’s happening across their networks. Yet, companies still want to apply the same level of security assurance and accountability they employed before they implemented these technologies, according to Ammon.

To help organizations achieve that goal, OPAQ has integrated networking with security, so companies can take advantage of the new technologies, manage security policies and have centralized visibility across all distributed assets.

Looking at logistics more broadly, there’s a lot going on with IoT in warehouses, as well as in transportation of goods, Gartner’s Aronow said.

The goal of warehouse managers, for example, is to get goods to customers as quickly as possible. To do that, they have to know what goods are on hand and where they’re located. That means they need real-time visibility into their inventories so they can take the necessary actions to move the right products to the right customers fast.

For instance, companies can use RFID-type sensors to connect assets in the warehouse to an IoT platform, retrieve the data from the sensors and transform it into valuable business insights.

For stock management in the warehouse, companies are using sensors as the underpinning of their frameworks, letting them know where everything is to improve the picking process.

“If I’m a container canister, I say, ‘here’s a description of what’s in me, and here’s my relationship with other pieces that go together with me that are going to get kitted together in a delivery,'” Aronow said. “The ability to find things quickly, and get them kitted together for shipment improves productivity.”

Companies could also use the information gleaned from these sensors in time and motion studies to redesign the next versions of their warehouses for increased efficiency by, for example, grouping commonly picked items, he added.

The interconnectivity of the various sensors and devices, as well as their ability to collect so much data, can be tremendously useful in helping companies operate their logistics operations more efficiently, save money and reduce redundancies, Travelers’ Simonson said. “It’s a real business benefit.”

Panasonic pulls in Japanese experts for help on rail links

Tech giant Panasonic is working on products aimed at telling travelers about delays in real time

Panasonic is trying to muscle in on the rail industry’s nascent technology revolution with several new products, including one that immediately alerts passengers to delays and cancellations.

The company said the railways had fallen behind sectors such as aviation in its embrace of technology and it has brought in experts from Japan to help its UK innovation team trial products and make them commercially viable.

Panasonic said this was the first time it had used the expertise of its Japanese colleagues for rail-related technology. It said the issue of providing immediate journey information was the top priority identified at a recent forum on rail.

“Our innovation team is actively working to develop a method of making the connected passenger journey a reality for commuters,” it said.

The company is also testing a trespass warning tool to help Network Rail and train companies find out sooner if a person were to stray on to the tracks.

Panasonic is also developing software to help rail companies analyse CCTV images to identify those likely to jump or fall on to the tracks, based on factors such as age, sex and behaviour – including signs of drunkenness.

Tony O’Brien, managing director for Panasonic Systems Solutions Europe, said: “We have analysed lots of data and from that we are starting to piece together several behaviours that are most likely to trigger something.”

Mr O’Brien said the company had just completed a trial of off-grid energy generation, including solar panels and battery storage products, to help power telecoms from trains. He said: “Passenger numbers are increasing and, with the market growing, you would expect to see growth in the use of technology.

“We’re not seeing that yet but we believe it will happen,” he said, adding that Panasonic wants to build a firm partnership with Network Rail to capitalise on the need for rail technology.

GlobalTranz launches Freight Platform in crowded IT field

For an industry all about managing freight traffic, it sure is looking crowded in the cargo management platform space. GlobalTranz Enterprises is the latest to announce the launch of a “next-generation” freight management platform. Called GTZrave, the logistics platform works to align shippers, carriers and freight agents for more efficient and effective movement of freight.

GTZrave hits the market in the wake of a slew of other freight management platforms that are looking to reduce bottlenecks from the back office to the highway. Online freight management allows agents along the supply chain to integrate their operations into a larger platform, which simplifies everything from planning deliveries to managing costs and payments.

The GTZrave platform manages capacity constraints between shippers, carriers and freight agents, and allows users to respond faster to changing market dynamics.

Other features include real-time connections along the supply chain, visibility into shipments at every stage, real-time freight management, from carrier selection to customer delivery. The system also includes process automation, visibility and data-driven analytics.

Indian Railways to use RFID Tags for tracking Coaches and Locomotives

NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways will use radio-frequency identification tags (RFID) for tracking of wagons, coaches and locomotives to ensure effective and transparent functioning. Leveraging information technology in a big way, the public transporter has issued instructions for equipping all wagons with RFID tags to begin with.

There are about 2.25 lakh wagons, 50,000 coaches and 9,000 locomotives in the railways. Railways have sanctioned Rs 57 crore for the first phase of rollout of the system. The tag designed by the Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS) is estimated to cost Rs 1000 per tag. Using RFID devices, it will be easier for the railways to know the exact position of wagons, locomotives and coaches.

Currently, such data is maintained manually, which leaves scope for errors. While the RFID tag will be fitted in the rolling stock, trackside readers will be installed at stations and key points along the tracks to read the tag from a distance of about two meters and transmit the wagon identity over a network to a central computer. In this way, each moving wagon can be identified and its movement tracked.

With the introduction of RFID, the issue of shortage of wagons, locomotives and coaches is expected to be addressed in a more transparent and expeditious manner, said a senior Railway Ministry official involved with the automatic vehicle identification project. At the time of wagon condemnation, RFID tags have to be removed and can be reused as they have a life of 25 years.

Henceforth it would be a standard practice for all new wagons coming out of manufacturing units to be equipped with RFID tags. RFID devices will be used for freight maintenance management, locomotive management and coach maintenance management so as to ensure more effective and transparent functioning, the official said.

Railways had implemented the RFID system on the Vishakhapatnam-Talcher-Paradeep section as a pilot project.

Railways to go for complete ERP and Digitisation; to save Rs.60,000 Crore

The Railways is developing a common digital platform integrating information from all departments as a roadmap for the future for bringing transparency in the system and enabling the public transporter to save about Rs 60,000 crore.

NEW DELHI: The Railways is developing a common digital platform integrating information from all departments as a roadmap for the future for bringing transparency in the system and enabling the public transporter to save about Rs 60,000 crore.

Besides, the entire supply and procurement chain of Railways will be digitised to curb corruption.

“Our entire supply chain is being digitised. Payment will be made electronically and procurement will also be made electronically. It will curb corruption,” Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu told PTI today in an interaction.

Spelling out his vision for the Railways, Prabhu said, “We are also doing ERP – enterprise resource planning – a complete digitisation process. All rail operations will be online. It aims to save about Rs 60,000 crore, according to industry estimates.”

Enterprise resource planning system will be an IT-based platform for system-wide integration and planning.

“Vision for Railways is to address those issues for which Railways is suffering today. Complete digitisation will enable operation can be managed from one place,” he said.

Highlighting various issues that are plaguing the national transporter, he said, “Organisations like Railways which are vast and complex must have a vision. We must have short term, medium term and long term vision and we must ensure a pan-India vision.”

Referring to the congestion problems, he said though rail traffic has increased 16 times after independence, the infrastructure did not grow even four times. “As a consequence, we are operating 150 to 160 percent of our capacity which is recipe for disaster.”

Currently 60 percent of rail traffic is handled on 16 percent of the network.

“So obviously there were congestions and it affected the revenue stream also. We are not been able to capture more traffic,” he said.

Congestion is also affecting punctuality as many trains are passing on the same line. Currently Railways’ punctuality is about 79 percent.

“Punctuality is a casualty today because so many trains are passing on one line. A train coming to Delhi may have come in time but cannot enter Delhi because of congestion. Same thing happens in Delhi airport like you hover around the airport,” he said.

Prabhu said he has sanctioned 16,500 km of doubling and tripling as against only 22,000 km in the last 70 years.

He further said the Railways’ vision is to save Rs 41,000 crore in the energy bill in the next 10 years which includes solarisation.

“We have plan for producing 1000 MW solar power… All our plants are subjected to energy audit so as to bring energy efficiency. We are also using LED bulbs to conserve energy,” he said.

Forty two percent of Railways’ lines are electrified today.

“All broad gauge will be electrified in the country and all metre gauge will be converted into broad gauge. It will benefit the Railways as train speed will increase and most importantly also help in reducing cost of energy.”

Google, Microsoft and Reliance may participate in designing Railways Ad Tech

MUMBAI: Leading global companies such as Google, Microsoft and Reliance may be keen to take part in the Indian Railways project and help design platform screens advertising technology. Railways is putting together a strategy to launch two lakh screens across India, aiming at a revenue Rs 10,000 crore in 10 years, the Times of India reported, for which a tender could be awarded by May this year.

The content on demand on trains and at stations is a sizeable market. According to a report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the infotainment market to be around Rs 2,277 crore in three years’ time.

The Railway Ministry, in a bid to revamp railways, may invite bids for Content on Demand (CoD) and railradio services in April. Services that would be included under the CoD initiative are — movies, TVserials, short videos, kids’ shows and devotional content. The CoD would also include streaming audio such as regional songs, movie songs, and devotional music; and providing electronic newspapers, gaming and educational content. Railways’ bids for app-based cab services will also be invited by May.

The video, radio, digital music and digital gaming contracts will be for a period of 10 years. The railways is, through these initiatives, expecting revenue of Rs 16,000-20,000 crore in 10 years.

As per the BCG report, to provide offline content, railways may have to shell out Rs 38,000 per coach. But, the online content will be expensive — for Rs 25 lakh each. Coaches are required to be well equipped to offer content streamed via the internet.

Transforming Indian Railways with the OneICT Programme

The Indian Railways have come a long way since the chugging of the first train on Indian soil in April of 1853. India has always looked at the Railways as a vital infrastructure enabling it to deliver goods and services for the growing economy. However, meeting the requirements of fast growing economy is a challenge.

The main issue is creation of the needed logistics and transport capacity in an affordable and achievable manner. The fact is that the traditional way of building additional infrastructure is too slow, too cumbersome and likely to fall short of the growing requirements and expectations. The challenge is to find a solution with adequate level of investments that shall leverage and optimize both the available and future resources.

We need a smarter way to connect people with jobs and goods with market. Digital Technology offers the solution. By going digital we can unlock far more than currently utilized capacity of the available infrastructure. We can run more trains where they are most needed. Going digital shall help the Indian Railways build and run better, provide more trains and better services with greater reliability.

Indian Railways aims to deliver services to meet the demands of the citizens of Digital India via the Digital Railway Platform: IR-OneICT or Indian Railways One Information and Communication Technology Platform. IR-OneICT is a vision to create a data-driven Indian Railways.

IR-OneICT is a strategic initiative for meeting the Business Objectives of: Improved Customer Satisfaction; Safe, Effective and Efficient Operations and Improved Revenues.

This shall be done by the following the principles of:

  • Data collection at source with minimum human handling
  • Single source of validated information
  • Timely availability of actionable information to authorised person at place of use
  • Improved data analysis and usage

Use of best in class technology for data analytics, simulation software, network optimization and decision support systems shall enable and ensure real time availability and usage of information leading to agile and efficient working. Thus, managers can spend more time on execution.

IR-OneICT aims for service delivery on an easily accessible Digital Platform for an enhanced customer experience. End to End Journey Management, Real-time consignment tracking, Door to Door value added deliveries, Co-branded services such as onboard dining and entertainment would be available to customers on easy to use mobile apps.

IR-OneICT shall also enable the Indian Railways to improve utilization of assets, maximize load-factors, discover new business opportunities and plan smart investments. The impact of these interventions is described briefly in the following paragraphs.

Data-driven network optimization on other major railway systems such as Britain’s Network Rail and Canadian National has unlocked 30 to 40% of hitherto unutilized capacity. Similar results could be expected on Indian Railways.

Real time asset management systems would enable managers to not only plan efficient operations & maintenance but also optimize asset acquisition for enhanced capacity. Financial data would assist the managers to dynamically plan and optimize cash flows.

Every year Indian Railway uses about 3 million litres of diesel and 16 billion units of electricity. Smart sensors and networks coupled with real-time analytics can predict and optimize energy consumption for substantial savings and significantly reduce our carbon footprint.

An informed workforce is an empowered workforce. Employee management dashboards would help managers stay in sync with their teams anywhere, anytime. IR-OneICT would enable a 24 by 7 workforce.

Digital enablement of Indian Railway hospitals would assist in optimal use of resources through appointment scheduling and other linked activities. Tele-medicine services shall help connect experts and patients located in different parts of the country with ease.

Seamless delivery of services shall be powered by a robust ICT infrastructure supported by Server Clouds, Managed Networks and optimized Systems Architecture ensuring Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability.

IR-OneICT shall engender a paradigm shift in Indian Railways to create a Digital Railways for Digital India. This initiative shall truly revolutionize Indian Railways.

7,000 railway stations could become Digital Hotspots

NEW DELHI: Mofussil India could be on the verge of a digital makeover. The railways have identified over 7,000 sleepy towns in the country for converting their railway stations into digital hotspots, which will not just offer Wi-Fi services to the local population but will also serve as hubs for ordering and receiving goods from ecommerce portals.

These proposed centres will provide digital services including digital banking, Aadhaar generation, issuing government certificates and filing taxes.

The plan, under the ‘Railwire Saathi’ project, will soon be rolled out across 7,000 stations, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu told. None of these stations will be in big cities and will be mostly in rural and remote areas, he said.

“Railways already have an unparalleled optical fibre network across the country through which we can set up these centres in the premises of station,” said Prabhu. It will be a one-stop solution for government’s digital inclusion plan, he said. “The staff who’ll be handling these kiosks will be trained for all digital transactions.”

For this project, Indian Railways is planning to tap into its massive optic fibre network, which is owned and operated by RailTel, its IT arm.

The department will also seek partnerships with other government departments for more services. The total project cost is expected to be in the range of Rs 1,500 crore to Rs 2,000 crore. A presentation in this regard was made to Prime Minister Narendra Modi late last year during the RailVikas Shivar. The idea is the brainchild of RailTel CMD RK Bahuguna and A.Seshagiri Rao, Director-POM supported by team of senior officers Ashutosh Vasant and K. Manohar Raja.

A top railway official said the pilot for the project can be at the poorest towns of the country and also Naxalism-affected areas. “I think we can have it started at rail stations in Odisha, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. Stations such as Jagdalpur, Deoband, Barauni, Bettiah, Khushinagar and Koderma could be shortlisted for the pilot run. All model villages will also have this facility. We can roll this at minimum 200 stations simultaneously.”

According to the plan, the railways expect ‘Railwire Saathis’ to be operational at 5,000 stations and 25,000 panchayats across the country within the next two years. This could mean job opportunities for over 30,000 people, especially rural women and youth. Railways estimate that they can earn anywhere between Rs 12,000 to 25,000 a month depending on the population served.

Currently, private technology players such as Google have a partnership with RailTel to roll out free, high-speed public Wi-Fi service at railway stations. The project has already covered 100 of the busiest railway stations and targets to roll out the service in 400 more across the country.

However, under that project only free Wi-Fi is offered and there is no provision of assisted digital transactions. Around 115 stations have been commissioned and, according to estimates, the project has been well received with about 6 million unique logins a month.

Neel Ratan, executive director with audit and consultancy firm PwC, said that given the government’s focus on digital India, “Efforts should be made to tie in all existing services infrastructure such as Common Service Centre and Aadhaar centres to offer services so that the centres come up to speed.”

Digital India is one of the marque projects of the Modi government. However, last-mile connectivity has been a major hurdle in the way of providing large-scale digital services.

The government is experimenting with many technologies and delivery models to connect remote areas.

This includes projects such as Common Service Centres where over 2 lakh digital kiosks offer similar services, such as those being envisioned under the ‘Railwire Saathi’ initiative. The ministry of IT is also planning to set up 25,000 Wi-Fi hotspots in remote areas to offer basic online services to hi-end ones, such as tele-medicine and tele-education.

The ‘Railwire Saathi’ plan also proposes to offer paid Internet access at the station using Wi-Fi hotspots for small denominations such as Rs 10 for 30 or 60 minute of access, along with monthly plans in the range of Rs 50 and Rs 100. Online shopping could be another pull factor.

Railways hope that ‘Railwire Saathi’ can be the nodal point for ordering as well as delivery since online payments are a hurdle for most people. Once ‘Railwire Saathis’ are operational in majority of the stations, railway stations can become potential e-commerce hubs using the parcel service of railways to ferry goods.

It would make perfect sense to boost the digital economy in smaller towns. However, it would be wrong strategy to bypass the cities and bigger towns. There is a lack of digital access and high-speed connectivity nationally, and not merely in the hinterland. And it would make eminent sense to leverage rail infrastructure to boost the digital economy in urban centres. The Railways would find ready demand for digital transactions in urban areas. Given that the Railways plan to monetise rail land in urban centres, it would be sensible to encourage digital activity as well.

Railways’ new mega App is coming in June to answer all the train related queries

From June, HindRail app to answer all your rail-related queries. HindRail app will work as a full-fledged inquiry system providing information on arrivals, departures, delays, cancellations, platform number, running status and berth availability

NEW DELHI: Come June, all your train travel- related queries will be answered through one mega application, likely to be named HindRail, which incorporates in it most of the existing Railways Apps.

The Indian Railways is developing the new app to work as a full-fledged inquiry system providing information on arrivals, departures, delays, cancellations, platform number, running status and berth availability.

Besides, it will also offer booking of taxis, porter services, retiring rooms, hotels, tour packages, e-catering and other travel-related needs. The Railways will offer all these services on a revenue- sharing model with the service providers.

Thus, the app will serve as a revenue-earning platform for the public transporter and is slated to have a business potential Rs 100 crore every year.

The Railways often finds itself flooded with complaints from passengers about not getting reliable information on train running status, especially when they run late.

Mohd Jamshed, Railway Board member (traffic), acknowledges that there are problems in disseminating accurate information on delays. But, he says, the new app will address all these issues.

“The new app will be launched in June and it will not only give you information, you can also track trains through it,” he said. Currently, there are several apps operated by the Indian Railways which provide various kinds of services. These include the CMS App for complaint management system.

The National Train Enquiry System (NTES) app provides inquiry facility. There are apps for booking reserved and unreserved tickets. There is another app managed by the IRCTC for the e-catering services. All these will be integrated in the proposed app.

Asked about the possible name for app, Jamshed said, “We have to give a suitable name for it but it has not been decided as yet.” However, it is reliably learnt the name HindRail is being considered for the new app among other suggested names such as MeriRail, ERail, MyRail and Rail Anubhuti.

Govt may invite bids for Rail TV content this month, market pegged at Rs.2.3k Crore

NEW DELHI: Content on demand on trains and at stations is a sizeable market, says a report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and, the Indian Railways estimates the infotainment market to be around Rs 2,277 crore in three years’ time.

The Railway Ministry, in a bid to revamp railways, may invite bids for Content on Demand (CoD) and rail radio services in April. Services that would be included under the CoD initiative are — movies, TV serials, short videos, kids’ shows and devotional content. The CoD would also include streaming audio such as regional songs, movie songs, and devotional music; and providing electronic newspapers, gaming and educational content.

Railways’ bids for app-based cab services will also be invited by May.

The video, radio, digital music and digital gaming contracts will be for a period of 10 years. The railways is, through these initiatives, expecting revenue of Rs 16,000-20,000 crore in the next 10 years.

As per the BCG report, to provide offline content, railways may have to shell out Rs 38,000 per coach. But, the online content will be expensive — for Rs 25 lakh each. Coaches are required to be well equipped to offer content streamed via the internet.

The non-fare revenue plan is to roll out rail radio and CoD on one-third of the trains in the first year and most of the remainder in the second year. Ideas such as allowing weddings at stations or giving branding rights of trains and stations to FMCG companies.

Content companies such as Balaji Productions, Eros Entertainment and Shemaroo Entertainment, and aggregators such as Fever FM, Radio Mirchi, Hungama and Bindass may be interested in bidding. Internet players and service-providers in the offline streaming market include Moving Talkies, Dwingloo, PressPlay TV, Fropcorn, TouringTalkies, Zonk, CloudPlay and MyFreeTV.

Telecom companies such as Vodafone, Idea, Airtel, are also expected to be interested. The content providers will offer to the passengers both, paid and free content. The service provider shall provide only ‘U’, ‘U/A’ and ‘PG’ rated video content. ‘A’ rated content shall not be allowed.

This government policy includes providing video and radio content through WiFi in stations and on trains, leasing spaces on platforms to automated teller machines, giving outdoor spaces for installing advertising hoardings and billboards.

According to the railways, the entertainment CoD will be provided on the personal devices of passengers at stations and in trains and in a phased manner, which will be listed out in the Tender Document. The licensee/service provider will be permitted to provide streaming video and audio content services. Radio, however, will not be allowed at stations.

Railways takes a step-forward to join the Digital India bandwagon: Suresh Prabhu at ASSOCHAM meet

Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu inaugurated the Conference on “Digitization of Railway Supply Chain – A Leap forward in Ease of Doing Business” organized by Ministry of Railways in association with The Associated Chambers of Commerce of India (ASSOCHAM) and Indian Railway Institute of Material Management (IRLMM)

Chairman, Railway Board, A.K. Mital and other Railway Board Members and senior officials of Railway Board and representatives from ASSOCHAM were also present on the occasion.

While speaking on the occasion, Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu said that Indian Railways is also heading towards Digital Age. He also said that Ministry of Railways is working on Enterprise Resource Programme – a software which shall benefit Railways immensely. In the procurements, transparency has to be maintained throughout the process and ensure participation of everyone. While inaugurating Pan India Digitization of Railway Supply Chain, he stressed on optimum asset utilization and laid focus on framing tech specifications of all rly items for real time benefit of vendors as well as Indian Railways.

Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu also added that Indian Railway is trendsetter among ministries to start E-Procurement in the year 2005-06. Digitisation of Railway Supply Chain is a Leap Forward in Ease of Doing Business & Transparency. Integrated Materials Management System is helpful in Optimum Asset Utilization, Efficiency in transaction, reducing cost of Doing Business. Integrated Materials Management System would eliminate barriers by Supply Chain Digitisation. He also said that Indian Railways has taken initiatives in E-tender, E-auction, E-procurements, E-scrap.

Shri Sunil Kanoria, President ASSOCHAM said that ASSOCHAM feels proud to be partner in organizing Digitization of Railway Supply Chain- A leap forward in Ease of Doing Business & Transparency. World class infrastructure is the key to a globally competitive economy and India’s objective of sustained double digit growth can only be achieved through a quantum growth in the infrastructure sector. As the backbone of transport infrastructure in the country, Indian Railways has stepped up their efforts to meet the growing needs of the economy. Indian Railways is poised to become the world’s biggest potential market for the introduction of modern state-of-the-art technologies and solutions for optimally harnessing the existing resources and deploying new technology solutions.

Indian Railways to launch Digital Supply Chain across all Zones on April 11

NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways will be launching digital contract, a system of digitisation of its entire supply chain across all zones.

The step is aimed at improving the ease of doing business and transparency.

With 100 per cent E-tenders and E-auctions already assimilated into the system, railways are further planning to build on these initiatives to achieve seamless flow of material, finances and information.

Digital contract, a seamlessly integrated digital supply chain, to be launched by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on April 11, envisages involving stakeholders including industries, financial institutions, internal customers of railways and inspecting agencies to create an efficient, responsive and transparent system.

The system includes digitisation of processes like bill submission, inspection, dispatches, receipt, bill passing and bill payments, warrantee monitoring and enabling use of analytics for increasing supply chain efficiencies in real time.

“Digitisation of supply chain should be seen as a tool for generating efficiencies, reducing entry barriers and transaction costs and increasing transparency,” said a senior Railway Ministry official.

Railways have a vast supply chain to maintain, sustain and build its huge asset base, to run the system, and to provide transportation service which is safe, secure and efficient.

The supply chain of railways has a large number of stakeholders and involves huge recurring expenditure of the order of Rs 50,000 crore annually.

This supply chain of railways generates large volumes of business and employment upstream, hence it is critical in railway functioning.

Digitisation of processes can also help in linking budgets directly with the outcomes, a move government is focusing on, the official said.

Such digitization will enable use of analytics for decision-making, reduce inventories and reduce procurement cycle time leading to reduced cost of products/services.

The railways have been stressing on the need for maximising use of ICT for increasing transparency and efficiency of government business processes on the one hand and improving ease of doing business on the other.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had highlighted the commitment of the ministry in his budget speech 2016.

“We intend to usher into a new era by switching over to paperless contract management system, where not only the bids are invited online but the entire process leading to award of a tender is also done electronically.We have completed the trial run for the above and intend to roll it out on all India basis in next financial year.”

Since paperless tender finalisation has been implemented and the entire process from publication of tenders to issue of acceptance letter is now digital we are going to launch digital contracting, which is resulting from digital and paperless decision making process, the official said.

The supply chain digitisation would encompass integration of information flows, physical flows, and financial flows between railways and its supply chain partners.

It involves completely digitising the internal business processes of material supply chain and seamlessly integrating processes controlled by different stakeholders digitally to achieve a completely integrated, paperless and digitised supply chain.

The supply chain of Indian Railways is regulated through a single online website, which handles more than Rs 50,000 crore procurement through 100 per cent E-tenders annually.

The supply chain also handles more than Rs 2,500 crore auction sale through 100 per cent E-auctions in a year.

Besides, having more than 52,000 registered vendors for supplies, the vast supply chain handles more than 2,664 registered bidders for sale of scrap material.

This huge supply chain is managed from the headquarters of 17 zonal railways and 8 production units with more than 300 field locations spread across the length and breadth of the country.

Any transformational change in such a huge supply chain, requires innovative and out of the box solutions, while being within the public procurement systems.

In the last few years, the railways have substantially enhanced ICT for digitization of supply chain starting with e-tendering and e-auctions and moving towards paperless decision making process.

The railways’ journey towards digital supply chain is now moving towards complete supply chain digitization.

Railways are holding a conference tomorrow which aims at creating a platform for different stakeholders to share their plans and ideas for identifying challenges and opportunities for achieving the vision of completely digitized supply chain.

Mobile Network connectivity best on New Delhi-Kolkata route: Study

RailYatri now displays mobile network coverage for any train; Airtel tops in connectivity among top 8 train routes

NEW DELHI: Online portal and mobile app RailYatri on Tuesday said its new version displays the mobile network coverage for any train, so travellers can check and compare the mobile connectivity across various routes.

According to Rathi, Indians on an average use 4-5 apps during long train journeys. “With the network coverage feature, passengers now know what to expect along their train route. Armed with this information, they can make their calls or take decisions like downloading a movie or book for later consumption,” Manish Rathi, the app’s CEO and co-founder said in a statement.

The statement showed that among the major connection between metros, the Delhi-Howrah (Kolkata) route scored the highest at 88 percent network coverage, with mobile network service provider Airtel giving the widest coverage at 71 percent through the route.

“While at some routes the network connectivity ranges as high as 70-88 percent, at other places they could go as low as 20 percent , depending on the network providers available on that route,” Rathi said.

“The RailYatri data also captures the coverage by individual provider between stations. This awareness is definitely empowering the train traveller to make right choices at the right time.”

In the chart released by RailYatri, the mobile connectivity is maximum on the Delhi – Kolkata route at 88 percent and lowest on the Mumbai – Chennai and Mumbai – Bengaluru routes, at 58 percent. On all the routes, Airtel seems to be offering the most network coverage as compared to Vodafone, BSNL, Idea.

Airtel had the highest network coverage among eight important train routes in country, travel app RailYatri’s study suggests. The company recently launched a feature that allows users to map out mobile network coverage along a route that a train travels on. The app performs this by capturing network coverage details from individual service provider between any two given stations.

According to RaiYatri’s study, Airtel’s network was strongest between the Delhi-Kolkata route with 71% network coverage, while it lacked coverage between Mumbai to Kolkata, Chennai, and Bangalore routes (37%). Vodafone was placed second overall, and its strongest network coverage was between the Delhi-Kolkata route (58%). Reliance fared poorly when compared to other operators; its highest network coverage rate was just 23% between the Delhi-Kolkata route. Both BSNL and Idea had average network coverage rates among the 8 important routes studied by RailYatri.

A user can check network coverage rates by opening the timetable of any train on the RailYatri app. An external link on the bottom of the screen will re-direct users to a map with route details along with the coverage details.

Network coverage by routes

Among the eight major routes between metros, the Delhi-Howrah (Kolkata) route had the highest average coverage of 88%. While the Mumbai-Bangalore route had an average network coverage of 58%, which is the lowest coverage. The company said that although, several stations have their own high-speed WiFi connections, “The RailYatri data showed fluctuating mobile connectivity on long train routes. While on some routes the network connectivity ranges as high as 70%-88%, at other places they could go as low as 20%, depending on the network providers available on that route.”

Telcos are fighting over who’s the fastest

RailYatri’s findings come at a time when telecom operators have been sparring with each other over network speeds. Recently, Airtel put out a press statement claiming that speed test provider Ookla has rated itself as “India’s fastest” mobile network. However, Reliance Jio opposed these claims and wrote a letter to ASCI, India’s advertising standards watchdog, stating that the Airtel-Ookla campaign is misleading and flawed and that this was accepted by Ookla when Jio inquired about it. Ookla, however, maintained its stance that Airtel was, in fact, the fastest network, as per it speed test results. The issue came to an end after ASCI ruled in favour of Jio, ordering Airtel to pull down the ad, according to this PhoneRadar report.

Swiss Federal Railways deploys Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform to Accelerate IT Modernization

SBB improves rail user experience, brings new applications to market faster and reduces costs with Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform

Red Hat, the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, recently announced that the Schweizerische Bundesbahnen (SBB, Swiss Federal Railways), Switzerland’s national railways company, has deployed Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform as the cornerstone of its IT modernization program. With Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, SBB has created a scalable and more agile platform for its application development, and is delivering new services, including an updated mobile application, to better serve the millions of passengers who travel via SBB each year.

Founded in 1902, SBB is not only the largest travel and transport company in Switzerland, but it is also among the biggest employers in the country. SBB’s operations span four divisions – passenger traffic, freight, infrastructure, and real estate. In 2015, SBB’s network of nearly 10,500 trains carried more than 50 million tons of freight and more than 440 million passengers between 794 stations.

SBB prides itself on offering not only modern trains and amenities, but also other services and IT systems that can meet evolving customer expectations. However, its traditional IT systems were struggling to cope with the pace of innovation happening across the sector, and limited SBB’s ability to quickly launch new provisions and modifications based on customer needs. SBB recognized the potential of digital services and mobility, and customer expectations among its passengers for applications, leading it to embark on a project to improve application development with a modern and agile platform that would not compromise system stability, speed, flexibility, performance, cost-effectiveness and innovativeness – all of which are central factors for SBB.

As SBB undertook its IT modernization program, it wanted to deploy a modern and flexible IT platform that could place it in a strong position to take advantage of the opportunities presented by digitization and help it better meet growing customer expectations in these areas. SBB had prior experience using enterprise-grade open source solutions, leading them to the decision that an open source, container-based architecture would be capable of complying with its requirements. Container-based architectures provide flexibility over traditional monolithic infrastructure, as applications are packaged into a container with only the required operating system components. This increases flexibility and portability across architectures and also allows for increased scalability as business demands evolve. Recognizing the benefits it offered, SBB selected Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform as the basis of its modern IT platform.

Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform is the first and only container-centric, hybrid cloud solution built from the Docker, Kubernetes, Project Atomic and OpenShift Origin upstream projects and based on the trusted backbone of the world’s leading enterprise Linux platform, Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform provides a more secure, stable platform for container-based deployments without sacrificing current IT investments, allowing for mission-critical, traditional applications to coexist alongside new, cloud-native and container-based applications.

After selecting Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform in autumn 2015, SBB began a pilot involving 15 projects in January 2016. Once the pilots kicked off, Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform’s popularity among developers and project managers led the scope of the pilot to more than triple in a short period of time. Today, 300 users at SBB use Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, with more than 900 containers in service and approximately 400 deployments every day. The SBB Mobile app has been downloaded more than 7.5 million times since its launch in 2008, and the latest version, launched in 2016, has attracted more than three million regular users. The app, built on Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, enables customers to buy tickets and access a touch timetable, receive real-time information on arrival and departure times, and receive push notifications and reminders from SBB’s travel companion.

For SBB, key benefits of its new solution include its stability and fault tolerance. The new container-based platform has not only given SBB the modern IT platform it sought to create new digital offerings, but it has also resulted in tangible benefits for how SBB’s developers work. SBB’s developers and operations teams are able to act independently, helping SBB to achieve more agility and speed in its application development. With Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, they can make modifications to individual elements on the live system without impairing the stability and functionality of the overall system.

“Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, with its container-based architecture, provided us with the innovation potential we required, in addition to operational stability and efficiency improvements across our infrastructure. Thanks to the deployment of Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, we have reduced our running costs by approximately 50 percent”, said Baltisar Oswald, Software Architect, Schweizerische Bundesbahnen SBB

“We recognized that the rapid pace of innovation across the rail sector could no longer be managed with a traditional IT structure and required a flexible, scalable platform which offered us fast development options without disrupting our live systems. Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, with its container-based architecture, provided us with the innovation potential we required, in addition to operational stability and efficiency improvements across our infrastructure. Thanks to the deployment of Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, we have reduced our running costs by approximately 50 percent”, said Baltisar Oswald, software architect, Schweizerische Bundesbahnen SBB

“The work at SBB is an impressive testament to the high-performance of Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform when it comes to replacing old IT platforms which can no longer meet modern requirements. With the incredible pace of innovation intrinsic to open source technology, deploying Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform offers users added confidence that their solutions can meet their needs not only today, but also well into the future. We are thrilled to accompany SBB on its path through the new application economy”, said Ashesh Badani, vice president and general manager, OpenShift, Red Hat

BSNL to set up 64 Towers along Hyderabad Metro Rail corridors

First BTS commissioned to enable high-speed connectivity on the move

HYDERABAD: Public sector Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited has decided to set up 64 BTS (Base Transceiver Station) towers along the metro corridors in the next couple of years to enable high speed connectivity to its users while on the move.

The first of the 39 BTS towers planned in the first phase was commissioned on Tuesday and the BSNL would continue to set up the remaining towers as work on metro rail progresses. Notwithstanding the stiff competition from the private players, BSNL’s Hyderabad Telecom District has recorded a “slightly positive” growth in its revenues during the just-ended financial year registering a revenue of ₹ 510 crore compared to ₹ 509 crore of the previous fiscal.

The public sector telecom major has targetted to improve its revenue by at least 3% during the current fiscal and has planned to take advantage of a bouquet of services launched for the consumers recently. According to BSNL HTD principal general manager K. Ramchand, BSNL presently occupied fourth place in the two Telugu speaking States and it had launched several initiatives to attract more consumers into its fold.

It was decided to enhance services relating to the existing 2G and 3G connections while steps were underway to launch 4G services soon. “BSNL is in negotiations with global companies for offering 5G connectivity and the process of setting up the necessary infrastructure will commence soon,” he said adding new Wi-Fi hotspots at 51 locations were planned to be set up with 381 access points in addition to the 42 hotspots commissioned with 85 access points.

This was in addition to the Fixed Mobile Convergence facility and multimedia video conferencing facilities proposed to be provided by the telecom major in the coming days. Efforts were on to replace the electronic exchanges with new generation network and switching. The equipment was commissioned in 42 exchanges.

The remaining exchanges would be covered during the current fiscal where in customers could avail facilities like limited fixed mobile telephony enabling them to utilise the broadband and fibre to the home connections as cordless phone without any additional charges.

The BSNL had introduced international Wi-Fi services wherein customers could access high speed data through wi-fi hotspots across the globe. “Customers can avail unlimited internet access with high speed connectivity in over 100 countries on payment of prescribed charges. The international Wi-Fi services are much cheaper when compared to costs involved in utilising mobile data in roaming,” he said.

Railway Minister inaugurates Conference on Digital Railways for Digital India

The Union Minister for Railways, Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu addressing at the inauguration of a Conference under the theme “IR-One ICT (One Information and Communication Technology) Building Digital Railway for Digital India”, in New Delhi on March 27, 2017.

NEW DELHI: A conference under the theme “IR-One ICT (One Information and Communication Technology) Building Digital Railway for Digital India” was organized on 27.03.2017 at National Rail Museum Auditorium, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi.

The conference was inaugurated by Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu. Shri Rajen Gohain, Minister of state for Railways, was specially present on the occasion. Shri A.K. Mital, Chairman, Railway Board, Shri Pradeep Kumar, Member Staff, Railway Board along with other Board Members, Officers of Indian Railways and delegates from NASSCOM and IT industry also attended the conference.

Speaking on the occasion, Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, Minister of Railways said, “It’s a very interesting program. Over a period of time, huge growth is observed in IT Sector. There are huge opportunities in IT sector. IT industry looks around for business all around; they don’t look for business next door. IT industry has done well and there are lot of opportunities in India.

he Union Minister for Railways, Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu addressing at the inauguration of a Conference under the theme “IR-One ICT (One Information and Communication Technology) Building Digital Railway for Digital India”, in New Delhi on March 27, 2017. The Chairman, Railway Board, Shri A.K. Mital is also seen.

Indian Railways offers a mammoth opportunity. Indian Railways is not only about operation. Indian Railways does lot of activities in different spheres like medical, education, social, environmental. In the budget speech, it was announced that Indian Railways needs integrated and holistic approach for digitalization. It was explored how Indian Railways can partner with IT industry through NASSCOM. Through this enterprise, Vendor and Railway should benefit mutually. It’ll be a turnaround situation. It will be a game changer if Railway can save 6 Billion dollar by investing 2 billion dollar. There are two models for Digital Platform. One is Capex Platform, another is Opex model. There can be the third model where Cris and vendor may partner together. The figure of 6 Billion dollar does not include Non Fare Revenue. Non Fare Revenue can be beneficial as soft assets of Railway can be monetized. Lot of Non Fare Revenue can result in significant improvement in revenue. This Digital Platform shall be the biggest Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). Cyber Security should be kept in mind. Precautions should be taken. It should be explored how line functions can be achieved through ICT, how future goals may be realised through ICT. This roundtable can be immensely helpful to realise these goals in less time.”

Leading speakers on various subjects from India and abroad spoke on spectrum of topics including Dr. Rainer Lukhaup from Deutsche Bahn and Ms. Salana McElory from G. E. During the conference the panel discussion on Special Purpose Vehicle for ICT deployment was chaired by Sh. Rentala Chandrashkher, President of NASSCOM.It also covered the achievements and present status of IT initiatives done by Indian Railways .There were stalls for showcasing Information technology.

IR-OneICT or Indian Railways One Information and Communication Technology Platform is an initiative to enable Indian Railways to deliver goods and services in tune with the demands of the fast growing economy by creation of logistics & transport capacity enabled by Digital platform. It shall involve use of digital technology to better connect the goods and services with the market and efficient internal management leading to higher customer satisfaction. The better capacity and asset utilization would mean helping Indian Railways in running more trains, carrying more freight, providing better and reliable services to the passenger, increased revenues, safe operations which would be ensured by IR-OneICT platform by using best in class technology, world class business analytics, state of the art software solutions available and use of automated data collection from single source with real time availability.

Railways firming up for integrated Software for Data Collection in fastest possible time

NEW DELHI: Indian Railways to have integrated software for instant data collection, a first-of-its-kind for the national carrier, in fastest possible time. Various functions of the railways such as passenger reservation, movement of goods trains and asset management will be brought within the ambit of the software.

Code-named as ‘One-ICT’, the sophisticated software would cost about Rs 5,000 Crore over the next five years and will cover the entire gamut of functional requirements of the railways, said a railway ministry official. The One-ICT Conference is scheduled to take place in National Rail Museum at New Delhi on Monday.

The software will use digital technology for better connectivity of goods and services with the market and efficient internal management, leading to higher customer satisfaction, he added.

“Numerous stand-alone software have been developed by the railways for various purposes. For the first time, we are moving towards an integrated software which will be like a single-window system,” said the official who is involved in the project.

To develop the software, the railways will organise a day-long conference, involving leading software companies, here tomorrow to draw the roadmap. It is likely to form a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to develop it.

The conference would be inaugurated by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.

‘One ICT’ will cover all the aspects, including cost analysis, attendance, accounting, asset management, medical management and land management, of the railways.

Better capacity and asset utilisation would help the railways run more trains, carry more freight, provide better and reliable services to passengers, increase its revenues and make its operations more safe.

This will be ensured by the ‘IR-OneICT’ platform with the help of best-in-class technology and world class business analytics, advanced software solutions available and automated data collection from a single source with real-time availability, said the official.

The public carrier has scaled up its IT expenditure from Rs 336 crore in 2016-17 to Rs 513 crore in the 2017-18 fiscal.

Railwire Saathi to boost Wi-Fi Services at 500 remote Railway Stations shortly

Christened as Railwire Saathi, the Wi-Fi kiosks will function like a PCO for Digital India

NEW DELHI: Aiming to provide connectivity in remote areas, Railways will set up Wi-Fi hotspot kiosks at about 500 stations and help people access an array of online services, including various government schemes. Christened as Railwire Saathi, the Wi-Fi kiosks will function like a PCO for Digital India and enable people to use services like e-commerce, online banking, offer them access to open school/university and insurance schemes, e-ticketing for train and bus services among others.

Automated form filling, mobile and DTH recharge are other services which the Railwire Saathi is expected to provide in areas with limited connectivity.

The Railwire Saathi aims to provide connectivity to the unconnected and at the same time offer jobs opportunities in rural areas, a senior Railway Ministry official said.

While Railways is equipping about 400 stations with free Wi-Fi service in association with Google, this scheme has dual aim — providing jobs as well as connectivity.

He said the scheme is expected to be operational by May.

The Railwire Saathi is a Wi-Fi entrepreneurship model where unemployed youths, preferably women, can be trained and supported to set up a Wi-Fi hotspot and provide a platform to online services which will make the business sustainable, he said.

RailTel, the telecom arm of railways, would execute the scheme across the country.

Though there are various schemes for minorities, farmers, the common man and many avenues for completing education, people in remote areas are generally not aware of them or find it difficult to access them, said the official.

Unemployed youth who wants to be RailWire Saathi would have to contact RailTel for necessary training.

The training course will be approved by National Skill Development Council (NSDC). After being trained by RailTel, the youth will get a certificate which can be used to get a loan under the Mudra scheme, he said.

Using the loan money, they will install and manage the Wi-Fi hotspots as per design provided by RailTel.

Railwire Saathi will help in disseminating information about various government schemes like Pradhan Mantri Ujjwal Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Atal Pension Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Beema Yojna and Pradhan Mantri Surakhya Beema Yojna among others.

Railway Minister declare Ten Railway Stations as 100% DigiPAY Railway Stations on SCR

SECUNDERABAD: Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, Hon’ble Minister for Railways declared ten stations on SCR as Digital Payment enabled (DigiPAY) Railway Stations at a function held today i.e., 25th March, 2017 at Hi-Tech City Railway Station, Hyderabad.

The ten stations which have become DigiPAY stations are Secunderabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Kakinada Town, Tirupati, Raichur, Guntur, Basar, Aurangabad and Nanded Railway Stations.

Speaking on the occasion, Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu expressed his happiness that Railways has initiated this step to fulfill the vision of Prime Minister of India towards spreading the use of Digital Payment and ensure a cashless transactions system towards a Digital India.

As DigiPay Railway Stations, all these ten stations hold the option for Rail customers to transact any need on the Digital Payment gateway with the use of Debit / Credit Cards, Mobile Paperless Ticketing and Payment through Digital Wallets.

Point of Sale (PoS) Machines have been put up at different cash transaction points including at Ticket Counters, Parcel Office, Cloak Room, Food Court, Parking Stand, Retiring Rooms, Pre-paid AC Waiting Hall, Tea Stalls, Fruit and Juice Centres, Catering Units, Book Stall, Dairy Parlour etc.

Railways to implement ERP Solution in next few months: Suresh Prabhu

Railways will completely move towards the e-tendering process to eliminate corruption. One-ICT Meeting to finalise the modalities of financing, execution, strategy and the framework of the project, he said.

NEW DELHI: The Railways will move to technology-enabled enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution in the next few months, Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu said on Thursday.

“It is a great opportunity for India to improve productivity through technology. ERP could be a game changer. Implementation of ERP in railways will be world’s biggest ERP. We will start implementing it in the next few months,” Prabhu said at ICAl’s sustainable infrastructure event in New Delhi.

He also said that the One-ICT Conference to be held next week will sort out various aspects of the project implementation including the project financing, execution, strategy and the framework apart from the discussions with various OEMs and Partners from the industry.

Indonesian Govt owned Rail Transit operator ‘PT Mass Rapid Transit’ to implement ERP for Ramco Systems

CHENNAI: Indonesia government owned rail transit operator PT Mass Rapid Transit, Jakarta,will implement the Enterprise, Resource Planning suite offered by city based Ramco Systems to digitise its regional finance and accounting functions.

Cloud software provider Ramco would deploy its next-gen finance and accounting offering enterprise, resource planning suite for PT Mass Rapid Transit, Jakarta in partnership with its local IT consultancy PT EMS Paramitra, a company statement said.

With modules offered by Ramco Systems, including general accounting, payable and receivable management, PT Mass Rapid Transit Jakarta, would be able to “automate” its manual financial functions, the release said.

“This association strengthens our expansion in this fast growing market and our presence in Southeast Asia, consolidating our track record as a global provider of universally applicable cloud enterprise software”, Ramco Systems CEO Virender Aggarwal said.

Stating that the ERP offered by Ramco System would “automate” all finance functions, PT Mass Rapid Transit Jakarta, Finance Director, Tuhiyat said “On implementation (of the ERP), we will be better equipped than ever to manage the challenges of establishing and operating Jakarta’s first MRT”.

“With Ramco’s integrated suite onboard, we look forward to embarking on a digital journey,” he said.

Indian Railways has the Largest High Speed Wi-Fi Network in the World

Under “Digital India” initiative, provision of Wi-Fi facility at important Railway stations had been announced in Railway Budget 2016.  Railway Board has entrusted this work to RailTel for provision of Wi-Fi at 400 stations across India in collaboration with Google.  Google has expressed interest in this project during Hon’ble Prime Minister’s visit to Google Headquarter at Mountain View, California.  Wi-Fi services at Railway stations are being provided through “RailWire” the retail broadband distribution model of RailTel.  RailTel is providing high speed end to end network connectivity on optical Fiber cable & Google is providing Radio access network equipment along with technology support.

In the first phase, 100 busiest Railway stations of the country were planned to be provided with Wi-Fi by March 2017.  Upto Feb 2017, free Wi-Fi has now been provided at 115 Railway stations which is estimated to benefit 50 Lakh passengers daily.

A Press release on South Western Railway (SWR) stated that 4 stations (Bengaluru, Yesvantpur, Mysuru & Hubballi in SWR) have been provided with this facility so far.  A total of 210 access points have been installed at these 4 stations to provide high speed Wi-Fi to passengers.

Sl. No. Station No. of access points
1 Bengaluru 79
2 Yesvantpur 45
3 Mysuru 47
4 Hubballi 39
  Total 210

Each access point covers 25 to 40 Mtrs.  All platforms & entry area are covered within station limits. The maximum Bandwidth allotted to each station is 1 GB.

In Karnataka, Wi-Fi has also been provided at Mangalore Central & Gulbarga for the convenience of passengers at these stations.

In Belgavi Railway station the facility is provided through MPLADS by BSNL.

Railway stations are frequented by people from all segments of society. This innovative initiative towards “Digital India” will provide high speed access net work to all rail users and will be extremely beneficial in bridging digital divide.  Passengers waiting for their trains can remain connected and carry out their work in a seamless manner.

In addition to the Wi-Fi provided at above stations, it is planned to provide the same at the following important stations by the end of the financial year 2017-18

SL Division Station No
1 Hubballi Vijayapura,  Bellari, Dharwad, Hospate, Vasco-da-gama 5
2 Bengaluru Bengaluru Cant, (will be commissioned shortly) Bangarpet, Kengeri, Krishnarajapuram, SSP Nilayam 5
3 Mysuru Davangere, Shivamogga Town 3
    Total 13

In the next phase the following stations will be provided by 2018-19.

SL Division Station No.
1 Hubballi Bagalkot, Gadag, Koppal, Londa, Tornagallu 5
2 Bengaluru Banaswadi, Hindupur, Hosur , Mandya, Tumakuru, Yelahanka 6
3 Mysuru Arsikere, Birur, Bhadravathi, Harihar, Haveri, Hassan 6
    Total 17

RailTel Wi-Fi is available to everyone with working mobile connection on a smart phone.   

Steps to connect to Wi-Fi at Stations.

Internet access with a speed of upto 1 Mbps (upload) & 3 Mbps (download) is provided free to the users for the first 30 mts in a day and subsequently speed reduces to 64 Kbps.  However, access to Railway related sites through Wi-Fi for information like PNR and Train enquiry will be free for the entire duration.

Railways to brainstorm with IT experts this month to improve Services

NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways will convene the first-ever roundtable with information technology experts from India and abroad in March this year as part of its ambitious “big data” convergence plan called “One-ICT” to enhance and modernise services and operations.

Running 18,000 trains and carrying 23 million passengers each day across a network spreading 64,500 kilometres, the railways generates a huge amount of data every day but lacks an open source platform for collecting and analysing the information.

“The One-ICT program will enable the Indian Railways to meet global benchmarks. Global bids inviting participation from transportation and IT companies will be floated this year,” an official said.

The Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) – a public sector undertaking of the state-owned transporter – operates a number of IT platforms including the Freight Operating Information System and Integrated Coach Management System.

“But these have mostly functioned as silos and have not added enough value to the business of running trains,” said an official.

Experiments in the use of digital technologies are transforming rail operations in most of the developed world.

“Besides bringing about vast improvements in operational efficiency, a one-stop-solution IT platform can unlock the business potentials of the Indian Railways by optimising freight and passenger operations,” Mangal Dev of the Hitachi Rail System Company said in a recent presentation before the Railway Board.

Dev is the director of Hitachi India and head of Hitachi Rail System Company, India and South Asia Region.

Associated with two projects on the complete life-cycle train management in the United Kingdom, the Hitachi systems capture data from thousands of sensors and signals on the functioning of various systems including voltage, temperature and brake pressures, and AC systems. These are analysed into actionable intelligence, Dev told.

“Self-aware” trains – or the “super-brain” concept for locomotive management–are among the new rail technologies being experimented. Last year, the German DB and the General Electric of the United States launched a digital pilot project to assess the performance management system and monitor the condition of its locomotives.

The GE is also collaborating with the US Amsted Rail on the “Car Integrity Monitor”, which provides real-time notifications on the condition of freight wagon components.

Ministry of Railways to launch integrated Mobile App for total Travel Solutions

NEW DELHI: The Railways will launch an integrated mobile application platform for all travel-related services, including ticketing, hiring taxis and porters, in order to make a journey hassle-free.

The Mobile App is set to be launched in May.

Though there are various mobile applications available for booking tickets, taxis, e-catering and other such services, the integrated app will cover almost the entire gamut of travelling, a senior railway ministry official involved with the project said.

As per the new business plan 2017-18 launched by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today, the mobile app aims at becoming a one-stop solution for various travel related services, like booking tickets, retiring rooms, booking tour packages, ordering food from a restaurant and finding hotel rooms.

It would help passengers book reserved and unreserved tickets, including season tickets, as well as buy platform tickets. There will be a common registration and payment account for all types of ticketing.

Expanding the mobile application for unreserved ticketing at all non-suburban stations would help in reducing queues at ticket booking counters, eliminate use of paper tickets and promote digital payment.

The app is part of the non-fare revenue scheme being undertaken by the Railways through scaling up of e-commerce activities to earn additional revenue.

It will generate non-fare revenue by utilising passenger-related data available with the Railways. The app will use affiliate sale partnership model to make available services and products needed by passengers.

SNCF goes Fully Digital: IoT on Track integrated with Railway Lines

IBM Watson IoT helps keep SNCF French National Railway running smoothly, deliver superior customer experiences, heightened operational excellence and enhanced rail safety.

IBM announced that French national train operator SNCF is leveraging IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to deliver greater customer experiences and heightened operational excellence.

The high-speed rail network in France is something to behold. While city-goers spend an average of 45 minutes traveling to the office, that same span of time is all it takes to travel from Paris to Reims, cities over 125 km apart.

The National Society of French Railways (SNCF) maintains 32,000 km of railways that span every region of the country. And it has announced a plan to integrate smart technology into its railway lines, which could mean enormous cost savings for one of the most internationally renowned transit systems. SNCF serves the needs of more than two billion passengers annually. Underlying the company’s success has been its ongoing commitment to delivering exceptional services to its customers, including minimizing delays, ensuring passenger safety and delivering a superior on-train experience for commuters.

By utilizing the Internet of Things (IoT), the SNCF envisions a railway network that is more energy efficient and less reliant on operator maintenance to function. The organization has dedicated 600 million euros to the project, of which 300 million will be spent over the next three years.

Among the companies partnered with the SNCF for this project include IoT networking company Sigfox, 2G technology and 4G/LTE narrow-band provider Ericsson, and IBM for its PaaS Bluemix cloud platform. The recent start-up Intensens will also participate in the project by providing new IoT sensors. DOWNLOAD HERE the SNCF IOT PresentationSNCF Industrial IOT Presentation.

IoT keeps things on track with superior service

SNCF turned to IBM Watson IoT to help keep things on track, deploying thousands of sensors on trains and tracks which are securely sending tens of thousands of data points in the cloud, all in real-time. By analyzing the data from these sensors, engineers and other personnel can connect to running trains in real time, allowing SNCF to anticipate when a specific item, such as a faulty signal component, is in need of repair. By predicting when maintenance is needed, SNCF can prevent trains from being taken out of service while avoiding more costly repairs. SNCF estimates that this train and track maintenance approach could reduce costs while significantly improving the reliability of its signals and trains. In addition, with this up-the-second insight, maintenance teams will also constantly be updated on the state of the rail infrastructure and when needed, can provide early warning to expert teams in charge, when there is risk of dysfunction.

Critical to this effort is SNCF’s use of IBM Cloud-based Watson IoT Platform capabilities, which connect its entire rail network made up of thousands of components, the rails and stations. With Watson IoT, the railway company is successfully minimizing delays, ensuring passenger safety and delivering a superior on-train experience for commuters.

Remote monitoring with industrial IoT

At the heart of this effort are thousands of sensors which SNCF is deploying on its trains, covering more 30,000 kilometres of track, 15,000 trains and 3,000 stations. Each of these sensors immediately and securely will send tens of thousands of data points to the IBM Watson IoT Platform on IBM Cloud where the data is analyzed in real-time.

Increasing safety, reliability and savings with predictive maintenance

Using IoT technology, engineers can connect to running trains in real time, enabling SNCF to monitor components and remotely manage work carried out on each individual potential train or rail issue. For example, SNCF can remotely monitor train doors for potential failures, air conditioning, windshield water levels and oil temperatures. By connecting to running trains, engineers and other personnel can anticipate when specific issues need to be addressed.

Using predictive analytics, SNCF has been able to successfully prevent trains from being taken out of service while avoiding more costly repairs. One key area of focus is the temperature of rails. Excessive heat can cause long term maintenance problems that affect the safety of trains, especially those running at high speed.

IoT used to make trains run more safely and efficiently. One example is temperature monitoring. When railway lines become too hot it can impede the train’s speed and functionality. This is not only a nuisance, but it may also increase the risk of an accident. Despite the advanced safety features we see on modern trains today, derailings do occasionally happen, and they are more likely to occur if the tracks are at a higher temperature. This is therefore one of the aspects of train operations that the SCNF wants to address.

The design team plans to do this by implementing temperature sensors at every kilometer of the track. When high temperatures are detected in certain locations, a signal is sent to oncoming trains to slow down—improving train operation and decreasing risk to passengers.

It is worth noting that monitoring equipment does already exist on the SCNF railways. It is estimated that around 30 percent of the railway network is equipped with signaling and telecommunications technology. What is different about the IoT is that engineers predict it will allow data infrastructure to be built faster and cheaper, covering far more tracks in the years to come.

Railway tracks are also just one part of the plan. A single train has millions of moving components operating cohesively, with IoT analytics monitoring certain parts and sending data to a central cloud. A model predictive system can help train operators perform proactive maintenance—something that has enormous potential for cutting costs.

It is for this reason that the SNCF believes it is possible to reduce maintenance costs by between 10 and 30 percent—costs that may translate to employee wages or passenger tickets. If you weren’t already on board to go for a train trip through the French countryside, perhaps this project will convince you.

GM|SCR launches Digital Payment campaign on the Zone – Kacheguda is now 100% DigiPay Railway Station

Vinod Kumar Yadav, GM/SCR & Others releasing Baloons during launch of DigiPay Campaign

HYDERABAD: South Central Railway, known for its digital friendly measures, took another significant step forward for the benefit of rail commuters by taking up a Digital Payment Campaign towards making major Railway stations as fully Digital Payment Enabled. General Manager, South Central Railway Vinod Kumar Yadav formally launched the campaign at Kacheguda Railway Station, which has been made a 100 % DigiPay station today i.e., 20th February 2017 by releasing Tri-Colour balloons in the sky.

An enthusiastic crowd of rail passengers, citizens including students and working professionals were present at the Digital Payment Campaign which was also graced by several senior officials from SCR, RailTel and Andhra Bank including A.K. Gupta, Additional General Manager, P.Ganeswara Rao, Chief Commercial Manager, Smt Aruna Singh, Divisional Railway Manager, Hyderabad Division, V. Satyanarayana Murthy, Chief General Manager, Hyderabad Circle, Andhra Bank.

Vinod Kumar Yadav, GM/SCR addressing the Staff, Vendors and the Public at the launch of Digital Payment Campaign

Kacheguda will be the first Station on Indian Railways to become 100% fully Digital Payment enabled station. All transactions can be done Cashless by means of accessing the Digital Platform with the use of Debit / Credit Cards, Mobile Paperless Ticketing and Payment through Digital Wallets. Point of Sale (PoS) Machines are put up at Ticket Counters, Parcel Office, Cloak Room, Food Court, Parking Stand, Retiring Rooms, Pre-paid AC Waiting Hall, Tea Stalls, Fruit and Juice Centres, Catering Units, Book Stall, Dairy Parlour etc.,

Vinod Kumar Yadav, GM/SCR making payment at KCG Station Vijaya Dairy Parlour through Digital Payment

The General Manager, SCR, Vinod Kumar Yadav in his address said that the zone has initiated this step to fulfill the vision of Hon’ble Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and Hon’ble Minister for Railways, Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu towards spreading the use of Digital payment and ensure cashless transactions. The General Manager called this step as a magnificent outcome of imbibing technology to enable a Digital friendly Cashless society. Transforming Kacheguda to a DigiPay Railway Station is a huge step forward in terms of signifying the co-operation amongst various stake holders, he added. The concept of DigiPay Station is to empower the passengers to go for digital transactions for any requirement. This beginning will set the momentum for transforming 10 more stations as DigiPay Stations on SCR in Phase-I, followed by all other A1 & A category stations in a phase wise manner, the General Manager informed.

Vinod Kumar Yadav, GM/SCR initiating the Signature campaign during DigiPay launch at Kacheguda

The General Manager complimented the licensee of various facilities / stalls at Kacheguda for pro-actively coming forward in the success of this endeavor. Although it was not mandatory in the contract for the licensees to provide for Digital PoS machine payment option, they came forward to join hands with Railways, which reflected their concern for a National cause. The efforts and continuous interaction that the Railway officials of Hyderabad Division had with the licensees, led to the results, the General Manager opined. The initiative of Andhra Bank in providing Point of Sales (PoS) machines to the required extent at the station was instrumental in shaping the plans of SCR to make Kacheguda a DigiPay Station. The High Speed WiFi access at Kacheguda provided by Rail Tel which serves the purpose of undertaking Digital Transactions also came in for praise from the General Manager.

Vinod Kumar Yadav, GM/SCR taking Selfie at the Digital Payment Campaign

In tune with the festive atmosphere at the launch, College students broke into a Flash Mob Dance in the circulating area of the station, swaying to Music set for lyrics highlighting the development and modernization of Railways.  A Signature Campaign – Signing up to identify with the Digital Payment initiative met good response Citizens and Rail Users. Selfie Boards propagating Kacheguda as DigiPay Station also attracted people, in particular the youth a lot. The General Manger visited the Stalls on the Platform and also made Digital Payment Transaction for purchase made, to formally signify the rise in the status of Kacheguda as DigiPay Railway Station.

Two Special Trains between Secunderabad-Raxaul for Holi Festival

In order to clear extra rush of passengers during Holi festival, South Central Railway will run two Special Trains between Secunderabad and Raxaul as detailed below:-

  1. Accordingly, Train No. 07091 Secunderabad – Raxaul Special train will depart Secunderabad at 21:40 hrs on 7th March, 2017 (Tuesday) and arrive Raxaul at 18:15 hrs on Thursday.
  2. In the return direction, Train No. 07092 Raxaul – Secunderabad Special train will depart Raxaul at 12:45 hrs on 10th March, 2017 (Friday) and arrive Secunderabad at 06:55 hrs on Sunday.

These trains will comprise of 18 coaches viz., one AC II Tier, three AC III Tier, twelve Sleeper Class and two Luggage cum Brake Van Coaches.

Enroute, these special trains will stop at Kazipet, Ramagundam, Mancherial, Balharshah, Sevagram, Nagpur, Betul, Itarsi, Pipariya, Jabalpur, Katni, Satna, Allahabad, Gyanpur, Varanasi, Mughalsarai, Buxar, Ara, Danapur, Patna, Bakhtiyarpur, Mokama, Barauni, Samastipur, Darbhanga, Sitamarhi, and Bairgania stations in both the directions.

IIT-Mumbai Professor show Railways how to set a Timetable in Five Minutes

The professors predict the software would be adopted by suburban rail networks across the country. The project has been chosen to be presented at a global seminar by the International Association of Railway Operations Research (IAROR) in France to be held in the first week of April.

MUMBAI: The utterly complex local timetable which can take railway officials over a fortnight to chalk out won’t rob them of sleep as often, thanks to the brainpower from IIT-Bombay.

A team of professors from the Indian Institute of Technology here collaborated with the Central Railway to write algorithms that have simplified the process of creating railway timetables to a degree that the suburban railway schedules can be created in as little as five minutes.

With the software it has developed, the team created a periodic timetable that unifies the many processes rail staff would need to employ. The new system is not only a notch above the existing scheduling process, but it also sidesteps various bumps the railways faces, such as fluctuating number of rakes, availability of platforms at certain terminals, and various glitches and deficiencies the railways battle every day.

The professors predict that the software would in time be adopted by suburban rail networks across the country with small tweaks to suit each city’s requirements.

On Thursday, a team comprising Professors Narayan Rangaraj and Madhu Belur, M Tech scholar Soumya Dutta and Central Railway’s deputy chief operations manager (goods) KN Singh gave a presentation on the software to the railway’s operations department.

The authorities that sat in on the meet included chief operations manager RD Sharma and senior divisional operations manager Anil Patke.

Central Railway’s chief public relations officer Narendra Patil told Mumbai Mirror that they had been working on this project with the IIT professors for the last two years. “This will not only help us in more efficient and easier planning but also give us a lot of options for adopting time tables for suburban operations according to our needs,” added Patil.

Professor Rangaraj, from IIT-B’s Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, said he and his colleagues wanted to help the railway administration with planning things by employing updated planning tools. “With the help of this software, you can also easily find out how many trains you can ply on the given routes,” he said.

The project has been chosen to be presented at a global seminar by the International Association of Railway Operations Research (IAROR) in France to be held in the first week of April. The organisation encourages academic and professional railway research and contributes to the development of new standards for railway traffic management by integrating various scientific disciplines .

PayTM emerge as India’s biggest private B2C player in Rail Ticket bookings

PayTM has announced that over 10mn travel tickets were booked on the company’s platform; Over $500mn in annualized GMV. The company has claims to have emerged as India’s biggest private B2C player in train tickets segment within months of launch.

NEW DELHI: PayTM’s online rail booking platform is doing more ticket bookings than any other private online B2C player in India, second only to the IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation) official website.

The company launched online train ticket bookings in partnership with IRCTC in September this year to complete the full range of air, road and rail booking solutions available on PayTM.

While the PayTM Wallet is accepted on the IRCTC platform, the company also powers the payment gateway on IRCTC’s App.

Given that over 30 million Indians use the Indian Railways to travel every day, this move will play a major role in making cashless transactions a way of life across all geographies and demographic profiles in India.

“We are thrilled to partner with IRCTC for online rail bookings and bring the trusted PayTM experience to India’s single largest group of travelers. We are encouraged by the response received for rail ticket bookings on PayTM App. Emerging as the country’s biggest private B2C player in online rail ticket bookings is a big step towards our goal of building India’s largest travel ticketing platform,” said VP PayTM, Abhishek Rajan.

PayTM is the first horizontal e-commerce major to enter into Travel business, a domain that has hitherto been dominated by vertical players. The company has chosen Bengaluru as the base of operations for its Travel Marketplace.

Suresh Prabhu congratulates ISRO for launching 104 Satellites in one go; seeks ISRO’s help in Rail Safety & Security

NEW DELHI: Union Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu today congratulated the Scientists and all the other officials of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for successfully launching 104 Satellites in one go from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre of ISRO, Sriharikota.  He lauded the officials stating that the ISRO Scientists have made enormous quality efforts in the last two decades in fulfilling various successful milestones to put India on top of the global footprint and in establishing its name and reputation in the field of advanced space sciences, technology and innovation.

The Indian Space Research Organisation on Wednesday successfully launched a record number of 104 satellites including the Cartosat-2 in one go on board a single rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. The satellites will be injected into the sun synchronous orbit at different slots at different angles and at different times.

Indian Railways on Mar 17, 2016 joined hands with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for effective use of space technology tools in introduction of web-enabled rail user-centric services, remote sensing and graphic information system (GIS) based applications.

Suresh Prabhu directed the Railway Officials to pursue the possibilities of using the technology from ISRO specific to the Safety and Security of Railway systems in India to enhance the Operational Efficiency of Indian Railways in the days to come, citing the examples of GPS Aided GEO Augmented Navigation projects undertaken by Airports Authority of India in association with ISRO for achieving navigational excellence and greater operational efficiency in commercial aerospace.

Apart from the principal payload Cartosat-2 series satellite and two more nano-satellites weighing less than 10 kilogram, 101 other co-passengers are from foreign countries including one each from Israel, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates and 96 from the US.

The Russian Space Agency held the record of launching 37 satellites in a single go in 2014. The US space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration has launched 29 satellites, while ISRO successfully launched 20 satellites in June 2015.

Terming the inking of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) as “not the marriage of convenience but the marriage of necessity”, Railway minister Suresh Prabhu said the initiative would help both Indian Railways and ISRO.

He also pitched for use of technology by the Railways to solve day-to-day problems and asked the national transporter to keep modernising itself by constantly updating with the latest technology in association with prestigious organisations like DRDO/ISRO/IITs and IIMs.

“We need to use technology for solving day-to-day problems. Lot of changes have taken place over a period of time. Our challenge is not just to use technology but how to constantly keep update with the technology. Railways have to keep modernising,” Prabhu said.

ISRO Deputy Director PG Diwakar and Railway Board Executive Director (Telecom Development) Shobhan Chaudhuri were the signatories of the MoU for developing applications in the field of remote sensing and Graphic Information System (GIS). RailNews when contacted Mr.Sobhan Chaudhuri at Railway Board on today’s ISRO’s successful launch and the related developments, he, being the signatory to the MOU with ISRO is totally unaware of the developments and said that he is not interested or supposed to talk anything! When asked again for a simple technical comment, he doesn’t have any answer. Railways should have posted those people driven with positive energy and vision to steer Indian Railways into an organisation of global excellence and not those persons without any subject knowledge on day to day developments and technological advancements in the country that could helps Railways in its day to day functions.

The MoU is enviisaged to use of space technology tools in various services of Railway industry in India – provide passenger information for all trains, indicating next station/stoppage, real-time train-tracking, survey of new rail route alignments particularly in hilly and difficult terrains. It will also aid in conducting track vulnerability studies, mapping of assets, audio-visual warning to road users at unmanned level crossing gates and introduction of web-enabled rail user-centric services.

Currently, Railways is using space technology for providing connectivity to Passenger Reservation System (PRS) counters and unreserved ticketing system at remote and non-rail head locations.

Besides this, the technology is being used for emergency communication using satellite phones from disaster sites, Global Positioning System (GPS) for various applications like remote monitoring of locomotives, passenger information system in Mumbai suburban trains, synchronised clocks and WiFi facility in select Rajdhani Express trains.

Scientists develop App that measures Quality of Railway Ride; records Vibration Data

Scientists have developed a new App that can allow railway passengers to measure ride comfort using their smartphones, and record vibration data from a running train to detect track faults and indicate which sections are in need of maintenance. Information collected by the app would give railway companies instant feedback from passengers about bumps, bangs and vibration on their trains, said researchers at the University of Birmingham in the UK.

The study is the first to use artificial neural networks to map data gathered from smartphones in order to evaluate ride quality. It showed that accelerometers found in modern smartphones are good enough to be used in measuring ride comfort. “Making passengers feel comfortable aboard their trains is something many railway companies strive to do. With the advent of smartphones, passengers can potentially measure the ride comfort themselves,” Sakdirat Kaewunruen, senior lecturer at University of Birmingham.

“Our research opens the door for many opportunities, allowing passengers to provide instant feedback on the comfort of their journey and equipping railway companies with information they can use to further improve ride comfort for passengers,” said Kaewunruen. “There is also potential for this technology to be used to detect track faults and indicate which sections of track are in need of maintenance, possibly saving on maintenance costs and improving the safety of the railway,” Kaewunruen added.

Researchers used a specially designed smartphone app to record vibration data from a train running on a test track, comparing the information gathered to a reference accelerometer. They discovered that the technology used in modern smartphones is more than good enough to measure ride comfort aboard trains. They noted that mobile technology develops at a high rate and future smartphones would have higher quality accelerometers than those used in the experiment.

Vibrations in trains can be caused by welding and rolling defects, rail joints, poor track alignments, and various defects or roughness in the track or wheel surfaces. The types of vibrations experienced on board trains are different from the ones experienced in road vehicles. “The greatest challenge in using this type of technology is to persuade passengers themselves to implement it in their daily lives, but there are a number of ways around this issue,” said Adam Azzoug from University of Birmingham.

“For example, rail companies might make it easier for passengers to use the app by linking it to Wi-Fi access on their trains or allowing passengers to give feedback on subjective causes of discomfort in trains such as smells and temperature,” said Azzoug. The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Built Environment.

Soon, a Mobile Game that teaches Railway Commuters not to Trespass railway areas

People will be able to download the game on their phones by June. Also, Railways to launch safety app for women passengers

MUMBAI: To prevent accidents on the suburban railway tracks, the Western Railway (WR) will launch a five-month long anti-trespassing campaign from February 16.

To create awareness among young commuters, especially students, the railway plans to launch a game, which people will be able to download on their phones by June.

In the game, players following rules at suburban stations — such as taking authorised entries and exits, using foot-over bridges and escalators and not alighting from running trains — will be awarded points. Points will be deducted if players flout norms.

Trespassing has long been a serious concern for the railways, with a recent comptroller and auditor general (CAG) report stating that 19,868 (59%) of the 33,445 deaths on suburban section occurred owing to line crossing or trespassing on the tracks.

The railway plans to implement infrastructure to reduce trespassing. However, commuters criticised the move, saying more serious measures were required. “This is not child’s play. The lives of commuters are at stake. The railways should construct more foot-over bridges and prioritise the installation of more escalators if they want to reduce trespassing,” said Rohit Das, Borivli resident.

Indian Railways to launch safety app for women passengers

To curb crimes against women travellers, Railways on 3 November said an all-India mobile application service will be launched through which immediate help from the Railway Protection Force could be availed.

“Some zonal railways such as Western Railway have launched mobile application for providing security to women passengers besides installing CCTV in trains,” Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said at the RPF Investiture Parade ceremony in New Delhi.

The app, a security and safety measure, is being developed in coordination with RPF.

Since railways is the soft target from unscrupulous elements and divisive forces, there will be a strategic cell for RPF to tackle the growing threat from such elements, a senior official said.

“In order to assess the threat perception, RPF needs a strategic cell. We need a change in the system and for this adequate funds will be provided to RPF,” Prabhu said.

Focusing the need for technology upgradation, he said, “sometime there are attempts to obstruct the economic development by obstructing the rail movement. There is a requirement for technology upgradation and training of RPF personnel to prevent such incidents.”

Dwelling on the menace of without ticket travel in trains, Prabhu said, “there will be a massive drive against the without ticket travellers. A drive has already been launched against the touts involved in cornering tickets in illegal way.”

Stressing the need for coordination with the state police, Railway Minister said he has written letters to all Chief Ministers requesting cooperation from states on the subject.

“RPF along with GRP will also work to prevent theft in railways and there is a need for coordination with the state police to prevent theft in railways. I have written to all CMs for better coordination with the state police to check crime in trains effectively. There is a requirement of seamless policing for effective control of crime,” he said.

Indian Railways to Brainstorm with IT Experts to improve Services

The Indian Railways will convene the first-ever roundtable with information technology experts from India and abroad in March this year as part of its ambitious “big data” convergence plan called “One-ICT” to enhance and modernise services and operations.

Running 18,000 trains and carrying 23 million passengers each day across a network spreading 64,500 kilometres, the railways generates a huge amount of data every day but lacks an open source platform for collecting and analysing the information.

“The One-ICT program will enable the Indian Railways to meet global benchmarks. Global bids inviting participation from transportation and IT companies will be floated this year,” an official said.

The Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) – a public sector undertaking of the state-owned transporter – operates a number of IT platforms including the Freight Operating Information System and Integrated Coach Management System.

“But these have mostly functioned as silos and have not added enough value to the business of running trains,” said an official.

Experiments in the use of digital technologies are transforming rail operations in most of the developed world.

“Besides bringing about vast improvements in operational efficiency, a one-stop-solution IT platform can unlock the business potentials of the Indian Railways by optimising freight and passenger operations,” Mangal Dev of the Hitachi Rail System Company said in a recent presentation before the Railway Board.

Dev is the Director of Hitachi India and Head of Hitachi Rail System Company, India and South Asia Region.

Associated with two projects on the complete life-cycle train management in the United Kingdom, the Hitachi systems capture data from thousands of sensors and signals on the functioning of various systems including voltage, temperature and brake pressures, and AC systems.

These are analysed into actionable intelligence, Dev told.

“Self-aware” trains – or the “super-brain” concept for locomotive management – are among the new rail technologies being experimented. Last year, the German DB and the General Electric of the United States launched a digital pilot project to assess the performance management system and monitor the condition of its locomotives.

The GE is also collaborating with the US Amsted Rail on the “Car Integrity Monitor”, which provides real-time notifications on the condition of freight wagon components.

Railway Minister to lay foundation for Dhasa-Jetalsar Railway line Gauge Conversion project

SURAT: Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu will be visiting the Diamond City on Sunday to lay foundation stones for four railway projects in the state including Dhasa-Jetalsar and also launch Disha Mobile application.

The Railway Minister will be performing the foundation stone laying ceremonies and other launches from Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (SGCCI) Samruddhi building at Nanpura here. These include Dhasa-Jetalsar gauge conversion project, 35 road under-bridges in Gujarat and infrastructural facilities for periodical overhauling of Covered Boggie Wagon Type with Air Brake and Heavy Load (BCNHL) wagons in Vadodara’s Pratapnagar workshop.

The Railway Minister will also be launching the DISHA App and dedicate the major routine overhauling depot for wagons at Gandhidham and locomotive simulator at Sabarmati in Ahmedabad, sources said.

Prabhu will be addressing a public meeting at Nilgiri ground at Limbayat in the afternoon. The event has been organized by the local BJP unit.

Asked about the reason for selecting Surat as the venue, member of Railway Board’s Passenger Service Committee (PSC), Rakesh Shah, said, “Even I do not understand why the minister selected Surat to lay foundation stones for the projects in north and central Gujarat. I have been flooded with queries from many regarding this . But, we will know on Sunday if the minister makes any special announcement for Surat.”

Around 59% of April-Dec 2016 Railway Tickets booked via Cashless Mode

NEW DELHI: The central government on Friday informed that around 59 per cent of total railway tickets between April and December 2016 were booked through cashless modes.

“During the period from April, 2016 to December, 2016, approximately 59 per cent of total reserved tickets were booked through cashless mode i.e. through internet or through credit/debit cards across counters,” Minister of State (MoS) for Railways Rajen Gohain told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply to a question.

Gohain highlighted that cashless transactions in case of freight business were more than 99 per cent.

He said that the ministry has decided to install 10,000 Point of Sale (POS) machines in association with State Bank of India (SBI) at various locations of Indian railways.

As the POS machines are GPRS-based, the communication system of railways is not required for operation of these machines.

Physical, Virtual & Cloud Technologies support Rail & Metro networks on a Mix of Legacy & Modern Platforms

The rail and metro network of today typically now has a combination of physical, virtual and cloud infrastructures supported on a mix of legacy and modern platforms. The digitisation of the industry has accelerated these changes and now offers further huge potential to improve rail and metro operational performance. As part of this change, terabytes of raw data are now being generated comprising everything from mission critical data, to maintenance reports and passenger focussed analytics. Amidst a host of advantages that can be offered to operators by mastering these huge quantities of data include the ability to minimize delays and enable efficient incident management, increase capacity utilization, enable intelligent operations, reduce the environmental footprint and develop real-time management of digital and rolling stock assets.

The challenge is being able to access this data, interpret it and make actionable and positive decisions based upon what it says. Rail and metro must focus on the changes that this data brings, which still remains a blind spot for some. Management consulting firm McKinsey calls Big Data; “the next frontier for innovation, competition and productivity.” For rail and metro it can answer questions that were beyond reach in the past and deliver huge value, if harnessed correctly.

To give the industry support in taking advantage of the data revolution, our editorial team are already speaking to senior executives at rail and metro operators around the world for insights into their work with data, and these exclusive features will make up the focus of the guide. But we also have the opportunity to feature a small number contributions from the commercial innovators providing data solutions, products and analysis to metro agencies and rail operators around the world.

Who reads these guides? 

This guide will be shared with our entire global community, including its 25,000+ members who work for rail companies and metro, rail and transit agencies giving your message a direct link to clients seeking to improve their digital connection with passengers. It will be featured on SmartRail World, the online home of rail and metro innovation for the full duration of 2017. And promoted extensively on our newsletters (sent to 32,000+ readers), across our very popular social media portfolio (18,000+ connections) and shared with our media partners. We guarantee a big audience

Opportunities still available…

Guide sponsor – position yourself as the market leader, with editorial article (750-1000 words) delivering thought leadership, full page advert, branding on front page and in Editor’s Welcome, plus receiving the details (including full contact information) of the first 200 (opted-in) downloaders of the guide giving your sales team a great start to 2017.  Editorial article also published on SmartRail World. Discount available on further leads. 1 Available.

Guide Partner – with editorial article (750-1000 words), branding and recognition in Editor’s welcome, receiving the details (including full contact information) of the first 200 (opted-in) downloaders. Editorial article also published on SmartRail World. Discount available on further leads. 1 Available.

Editorial Contributor (guide + website) – Feature / Headline Interview / Case Study (750-1000 words) in the digital guide and also published on SmartRail World. 1 of each Available

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Advertising partner – an interactive advert with clickable links, so readers can connect straight to your website Full Page (2 available) Half Page (4 available).


Deadline for Content and Adverts: Friday 17th February 2017.

Publication date: Week commencing Monday 27th February 2017


Want to find out more? Contact Eric Hewitson on +44 (0) 20 7045 0913 / Eric.Hewiston@globaltransportforum.com 

Railways adds 2 Features on UTS Mobile Ticketing App

Railways UTS Mobile App for Unreserved Tickets gets more user-friendly, to allow recharge using PayTM, MobiKwik

Mumbai: Railways has made its UTS mobile ticketing application more passenger-friendly by adding two features on the Android-based platform.

The Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS), the IT arm of Railways, has added two important features on the Android-run application to make payments and printing of tickets easier for passengers, said an official today.

Firstly, its wallet could now be recharged with private on-line payment players like PayTM and MobiKwik, an option which was not available earlier. Till now, customers had to recharge the wallet through net banking, said Narendra Patil, Chief PRO of Central Railway (CR).

Secondly, passengers can get a printed unreserved ticket through the application. Until now, commuters could get paper tickets only at counters but this application has been integrated with the Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVMs) through which they can order a printed ticket, he said.

Though UTS (Unreserved Ticketing System) mobile application was launched over one-and-a-half years ago, it found few takers among passengers, who cited practical difficulties in using the software solution.

Patil said, “We received feedback from commuters and incorporated their suggestions while updating the application.

We hope it will serve them better now.”

Passengers can use the UTS mobile application to book unreserved tickets for long distance trains as well with an option to get a print out of the document, he said.

“According to Google Play Store, over one million people have downloaded our UTS mobile ticketing application across the country, which holds a lot of significance for us,” Patil said, adding CRIS would be coming with more updates in future.

Task Force on Safety constituted identifies Staff Failure as Biggest cause of Rail Accidents

A Task Force on Safety was formed in Dec last year after a derailment that killed 151 people near Kanpur. The Task Force observed that while sabotage is indeed a factor in some other derailments in the recent past, bad performance of Staff is equally a major cause for the majority.

NEW DELHI: Failure of Railway staff is the biggest cause behind train accidents and derailments that have led to maximum deaths and injuries to passengers, said a safety report submitted to Railway Ministry. Railway has constituted a task force on safety on December 6 last year after the derailment near Kanpur, killing 151 people.

The committee comprising senior railway officials involved in safety mechanism was asked to conduct data analysis of investigation into the past accidents and developed a “factual view of potential solutions.” The report submitted recently has categorically stated the failure of railway staff is the biggest cause in 50 to 60 per cent cases, and derailments cause maximum deaths and injuries.

According to the report, asset failures like track defects such as rail fracture and inadequate maintenance remain the biggest cause of accidents. Taking note of increase in number of derailments due to rail-fractures and weld failures, it has suggested a need to address the backlog in rail/track renewals and the technology of rail welding.

Advocating technology upgradation to have less dependence on human intervention, the report said “Inspection of Rails is a complex exercise and must be automated as much as possible to reduce dependence on human judgement.”

The preliminary finding of the committee on the derailment of the Indore-Rajendranagar Express near Kanpur in November 2016 that killed over 151 people was primarily caused by carriage and wagon defects should serve as a reality check for the Railway Ministry.  While sabotage is indeed a factor in some more derailments in the recent past, bad railway performance is equally responsible for the majority.

The CRS report merits serious consideration: it has specifically identified a variation in the wheel gauges of two coaches, and found carriages being run beyond their useful life. This is not a rare instance where inquiries have found the Railways seriously deficient. In fact, the annual report of the CRS Lucknow for 2012-13 cites failure of railway equipment, derelict staff, rail fractures and, on some occasions, non-railway factors to be responsible for fatal accidents.

The collision of the Hubli-Bengaluru City Hampi Express with a goods train that left 25 people dead, for instance, was caused by failure of staff. The Kakodkar committee on railway safety found that out of 441 derailments it analysed, only about 15% were the result of sabotage, while the majority were caused by factors completely under the control of the railway administration.

India’s Railways serves the vital function of providing travel access to millions, and, as Mahatma Gandhi wrote in his article ‘Third Class in Indian Railways’, have the responsibility of making it equitable and comfortable. It must also be safe. The Railway Ministry is pursuing a major safety initiative, the Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh, with a non-lapsable corpus of ₹1,19,183 crore. Not only should such a fund be constituted, given the past contribution of dedicated safety funds to rail track renewal, it should be governed by a transparent framework with public reporting requirements.

The Finance Ministry says the Fund should rely mainly on internal resources, but there is a strong case for higher gross budgetary support to raise safety in a government-run transport network that has a universal service obligation. Replacing ageing and unsafe carriages with modern Linke Hofmann Busch coaches is a five-year-old Kakodkar panel recommendation, but supply has not kept pace with requirement. Travel demand has, meanwhile, continued to leap as economic growth both needs and encourages greater mobility.

Raising the performance of the Indian Railways needs a clear vision for both service and financing, with zero tolerance for accidents. Along with technologies such as ultrasonic flaw detection to keep tracks safe, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and his team must look at ways to carry more passengers safely.

Digital push hits Railway Revenues

New Delhi: The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC), which handles online ticket bookings, is suffering a loss of about Rs 60 crore per month, following the government’s move to push digital transaction.

“The non-charging of service charge and insurance premium have had a disastrous effect on our revenues. We are suffering a loss of about Rs 55-60 crore per month because of the discontinuation of service charge and insurance premium payment. We have asked the railway ministry to compensate for the losses,” A.K. Manocha, chairman of the IRCTC, told.

The government had waived the service charge on tickets booked through the IRCTC website or app, to incentivise cashless transactions.

On November 23, the railway ministry had announced that service charge on the online booking would be discontinued till December 31 to promote digital payments under the demonetisation drive. The waiver was later extended till March 31, 2017.

The subsidiary of the Indian Railways charges Rs 20 on online booking of sleeper and second-class tickets, and Rs 40 for AC classes. The IRCTC earned Rs 551.49 crore as service charge in 2015-16.

The service charge on ticket is in no way connected to card payment, but is a fee for the services provided by the IRCTC.

The charge, approved by the Railway Board, is levied by the IRCTC to maintain its infrastructure and to bear the cost of the facility that it provides.

At present, the e-ticketing system caters to over 10 lakh passengers daily (comprising 58 per cent of total reserved passengers).

To encourage online booking, the Indian Railways had last month waived the insurance premium for passengers, a senior ministry official said.

The facility, which was announced in the railway budget of 2016-17, allows a passenger to get an insurance cover of up to Rs 10 lakh on booking a ticket through the IRCTC’s portal by paying a premium of 92 paise.

Manocha said, “There has been a surge in digital booking since demonetisation and this is further putting pressure on our revenues. We have sought compensation for the losses and a mechanism to address the issue as we think that the waiver would be extended beyond March.”

A Railway Board official said, “We have taken up the issue with the finance ministry as service charge is a major source of revenue for the IRCTC and it should be compensated for revenue loss.”

The revenue of the IRCTC witnessed a 31 per cent jump to about Rs 1,500 crore in 2015-16. Net profit rose 20 per cent to Rs 130 crore from Rs 108 crore in 2014-15. Ticket sales grew 9 per cent to 19.94 crore in the last fiscal. The IRCTC has to share 50 per cent of its total revenue from service charge with the Indian Railways as fees.

Tech for Communication between Trains on Track

MUMBAI: The Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) will soon carry out a study before commissioning an advanced signalling technology on the suburban corridor. The technology–communication -based train control system-can help improve safety and frequency of train services.

Though this system was recommended by NITI Aayog, the Centre’s advisory body before granting approval for the third phase of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project, it did not feature in the list of projects to be executed.

An MRVC official said that it was because the railway board wanted a comprehensive study of system to be done out before it could be implemented on the suburban corridor.

The control system is an expensive project which will require an investment of around Rs 4,000 crore if implemented on the Western Railway , Central Railway and the Harbour lines.

Mumbai suburban system has fixed block signals which ensure fair distance between trains running on single track. The suburban track is divided into several blocks called signalling territory . As the trains move from one signalling block to the next, the previous block will show the red signal and those before that a yellow, double yellow or green light. This separation of distance prevents trains from running at full potential, restricting the number of services.

In the new system, there is constant communication through digital technology which allows trains to maintain minimum distance between trains, thus allowing better speed and more services.

The MRVC official said that this system has been successfully introduced in Sao Paulo and Copenhegan.”So, implementing the system in Mumbai should not be impossible,” said the official.

MRVC may go for phasewise execution of the system by first implementing it on the Harbour line corridor. If the cab signalling technology is introduced, the frequency of trains will come down from four minutes per train to two minutes.

“This will improve punctuality and will also lead to less overcrowding on the Harbour line corridor which is witnessing a huge rush due to increase in population in Navi Mumbai,” said a railway source.

IRCTC launches new Rail Connect App for Faster Booking of Train Tickets

New Delhi: In a bid to promote ease of ticketing through digital transactions, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Tuesday released the new passenger mobile application named ‘IRCTC Rail Connect app’.

“Currently e-ticketing system caters to over 10 lakh passengers daily (comprising 58 per cent of total reserved passengers). And to increase the ease to users, a new Android-based mobile application for reserved booking IRCTC Rail Connect has been developed,” Prabhu told reporters here.

Further, Prabhu inaugurated many non-fare initiatives and IRCTC mobile apps.

Explaining about the new mobile IRCTC app, Prabhu said: “Rail Connect has been developed to bring the power of next generation e-ticketing system like high performance and enhanced security.” The new mobile-based application will replace the old existing IRCTC connect app.

According to the Minister, the new application has features like 24/7 service with no time based checks, synchronisation of mobile app with NGET (Next Generation e-Ticketing) for ticket booking, simple and easy user interface and supports general, ladies, Tatkal and Premium-Tatkal quota.

The new application sports other features like advanced security of self-assigned PIN (Personal identification number) to login without entering username and password on each login.

Prabhu pointed-out that a new user registration and activation can now be directly done through the IRCTC Rail Connect.

The minister further said that the new application will be integrated with IRCTC e-wallet for faster and hassle free transactions.

“Through IRCTC Rail Connect app users can view and cancel old mobile app tickets also. The new app will provide payment gateway to over 40 banks to facilitate payments through net Banking, credit or debit cards and wallets like Paytm, PayU, Mobikwik,” Prabhu informed.

“The IRCTC Rail Connect will also be inter-connected with IRCTC AIR, Food on Track mobile apps to facilitate booking of air tickets and food through e-catering.”

How RailYatri is using GPS & Anlytics to help Rail Passengers optimise time

Thalaivaa (Rajnikanth), Dabaang (Salman Khan) and Virat (Virat Kohli) have nothing to do with Indian Railways. However, cut-outs of these three legends and a snooker table are what greet visitors to the office of RailYatri.in, a consumer application start-up. If you ask those working there, their response is, “We believe in work through entertainment.” The most consistent employee of the month is called Virat, the most fearless, Dabaang, and the most extraordinary, Thalaivaa.  This camaraderie and youthfulness has helped RailYatri attract 4.5 million monthly visitors since it appeared in its current avatar in 2014.

In October, the company raised an undisclosed amount from existing investors — Nandan Nilekani, the man behind Aadhaar and a co-founder of Infosys; Helion Ventures; Omidyar Partners and Blume Ventures. The company has so far raised about $5 million in two rounds. RailYatri recently morphed into a rail travel-oriented marketplace, enabling travellers to book services such as high-quality onboard meals, bus tickets and budget rooms.

“RailYatri does an excellent job of estimating train arrival time, which is a productivity benefit for all passengers. Using crowdsourcing, GPS and analytics, RailYatri can predict the arrival of a train at any platform accurately. So, people can reach the platform in time,” Nandan Nilekani had told Business Standard in an earlier interaction.

The proposition

For anxious passengers with waiting-list tickets, it predicts the chances of these being confirmed. A number of other players like ConfirmTkt, RailInfo and Trainman also use predictive analysis to attract users. RailYatri claims it also assists passengers at different stages of their journey, starting from ticket bookings to keeping track of routes. RailYatri’s GPS tracker provides accurate data from travellers in real time.

“We have data for three years. Based on that, using an algorithm, the chances of a ticket being confirmed, which helps passengers take decisions. We tell travellers if the ticket will be confirmed, when will the train arrive, at which platform, and how late is running,” says Manish Rathi, chief executive officer and co-founder of RailYatri. Rathi, with friends Kapil Raizada and Sachin Saxena, rolled out the app in 2014.

From being a data provider, the company has diversified into on-track food delivery, budget rooms, bus and taxi services, merchandise, and railway ticketing. According to RailYatri, about 20 per cent of its revenue comes from the food business, for which it has tied up with YatraChef that has a network in a little more than 100 cities. “Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corp (IRCTC) had launched an online food delivery only a few months ago. RailYatri had forayed into this segment much earlier,” says a railways ministry official. Hotels and bus services bring in revenue shares of 10 per cent each.

The idea of RailYatri struck the promoters in 2012, when they worked with the Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) to develop TrainEnquiry.com. They realised passengers had other information needs, which could be communicated graphically. When asked about what made RailYatri different from its competitors, Rahul Chandra, co-founder and managing director, Helion Ventures, said, “Non-air travel choices in India have been unorganised, or at best have depended on previous experiences or experts like the bookstore owner on Platform 6. RailYatri parses the collective travel experience of millions of travellers at a time to present the best choices. The more people use it, the more data it collects, the more accurate information it can provide. Everyone benefits through participation. It has natural protection moats because it is the only source of real-time information, versus other players who rely on published time-tables.”

Road ahead

According to Rathi, in the past two years, the company was successful in raising its value, which led to the present round of funding. However, RailYatri is still far behind the IRCTC site in terms of number of visitors. “By the end of the next financial year, we expect to surpass the IRCTC site, which receives 12.5 million hits monthly. We want to ensure repeatability in terms of the number of customers visiting RailYatri,” Rathi adds.

Nilekani believes the company can pull this off, using a combination of mobile, data, payments and analytics. Compared to global majors like Insight, Think Digital Travel, Think with Google, and Sojern, RailYatri has to deal with the more complicated structure of Indian Railways, where trains are delayed most of the time.   To monetise its business model, Rathi and his team are also considering product marketing. RailYatri recently forayed into ticketing, where it depends on agents, compared to sites like MakeMytrip and ClearTrip, which are affiliates of IRCTC. “We are working on a model that will offer a price advantage of 10-15 per cent for passengers booking on our platform,” Rathi says. RailYatri is in talks with various brands for being part of this exercise.

“RailYatri has experienced extraordinary growth with no marketing. It is astounding to witness such adoption by a section of consumers who are not first movers in digital products. We want to retain this momentum,” Chandra adds.

Although the company is trying many things like food delivery, ticketing, data and budget hotels, it is not the first-mover in these segments. “We have an advantage of being the first aggregator,” Rathi says. It also faces the challenge of converting 40-50 per cent of its monthly traffic from only “checking out” visitors to active users.

The team and investors, including Nilekani, say the platform will soon develop into a one-stop shop for all needs of a rail passenger. “Soon, questions like ‘Mera train kahan hai? (Where is my train?) Meri ticket confirm hogi ki nahi? (Will my ticket get confirmed or not?) and Train right time par hoga ki nahi? (Will my train be on time?) will disappear,” says Rathi.

Area of business: App for train travellers

User base: 4.5 mn monthly visitors

USP: Offers real-time train running status

Founders: Manish Rathi, Sachin Saxena, Kapil Raizada

Funding: From two rounds raised $5 mn

Investors: Nandan Nilekani, Helion Ventures, Omidyar Partners and Blume Ventures

Target: Build a marketplace for travel-related services; booking train or bus tickets, meals, cabs and hotels

Expert Take: Rakesh Tandon, former managing director of Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation.

In today’s environment, with people exposed to the internet on a large scale, passengers will look for the easiest possible manner to get all services in one basket. It may include food, booking hotels and tickets and other travel-related information. There are mobile internet applications, run by the railways such as Railradar and RailConnect, which provide such services to travellers, like RailYatri. Now, Many private players are also providing such applications. Their biggest challenge is the gradual improvement of the platform, which customers are looking for, and keeping information updated. Interestingly, some of these are sourcing data from the railway sites and provide it to customers, not the right thing to do. I am not sure from where RailYatri is sourcing this huge data from. They have to source this information in collaboration with railways, otherwise, it could land them in trouble.