New Delhi: The Minister of Railways, Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu today launched the following IT initiatives developed by Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) (the IT arm of Ministry of Railways using remote control by organising Video-Conferencing between, Rail Bhawan and New Delhi Station.
1. Paperless Unreserved Ticketing through Mobile Phone between New Delhi – Palwal Section (NR)
2. Currency Coin cum Card operated Automatic Ticket Vending Machines at New Delhi Railway Station
3. Mobile Application for Freight Operations (PARICHAALAN)
Chairman, Railway Board, A.K. Mital, Kundan Sinha, Member Traffic, Railway Board, Jamshed, Additional Member (IT), Mrs.Vandana Nanda, Managing Director, CRIS, Board Members and senior officials of Railway Board and CRIS were among those present on the occasion in the Rail Bhawan. At New Delhi Station end, Minister of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Dr. Harsh Vardhan and Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) Ms. Meenakshi Lekhi, New Delhi constituency.
Speaking on the occasion, the Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu said that he is happy to launch various new initiatives, especially IT related initiatives, which are directed towards improving passenger and customer services on Indian Railways. The IT applications which have been inaugurated today are an indication that Indian Railways is constantly moving towards e-Governance. As you are aware, in the recent past we have launched a number of such IT initiatives which were also part of my Budget announcements. Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision of Digital India is also our guiding force in Indian Railways. The Minister said the IT initiatives being undertaken by Indian Railways are in line with the Digital India Programme. He said that the spirit of this programme is to work as broad umbrella for various initiatives undertaken to improve quality of life and create facilities for common people.
Suresh Prabhu said that in April & June we had launched Paperless Unreserved Ticketing System for Chennai and Mumbai suburban sections. Today this has been launched for New Delhi-Palwal section of Northern Railway. This system shall now be proliferated to other important suburban sections of Eastern Railway, South Eastern Railway and South Central Railway shortly.
He said that Introduction of Coin-cum-Currency operated Ticketing Vending Machine is another step forward in ensuring that passengers get their tickets quickly under ‘Operation five minutes’ announced in Railway Budget. These ticket vending machines shall be installed at all the major stations in the country. 450 machines are being procured and installed by CRIS and shall be available at major stations during the next 3 months.
The Railway Minister said that the Freight Monitoring App named ‘Parichaalan’ is another development towards improving operating efficiency through improved Management Information System. This App shall greatly help the senior decision makers of Operating Department to plan freight operations on real time basis. After the initial experiment, this App shall be provided to other operating officers in the field.
Suresh Prabhu said that very soon Monthly Season Ticket (MST) can also be purchased through mobile by the passengers in Mumbai and Chennai suburban Railway network. The Railway Minister also said that even the platform ticket will soon be made available through the mobile phone.
The Minister further stated that in last few months we have also launched many other initiatives including Complaint Management System with mobile application to facilitate obtaining suggestions and complaints from passengers. Many improvements have been brought about in e-ticketing segment especially automatic refund during cancellation of trains, development of Hindi e-ticketing portal and integration of customer services on single portal. SMS Alert System to inform passengers about arrival and departure of trains, all India helpline and Mobile App for woman security have also been launched recently in Mumbai & Kolkata.
Suresh Prabhu said that it is also a matter of pride for us that all these applications are being developed by our own IT organization CRIS in consultation with nodal Directorates of Railway Board. This domain expertise and in-house specialization is unparalleled and these innovations are widely acclaimed to be the best in market.
The Railway Minister also announced that a Memorandum of Understanding will be signed shortly between Railways Department of CRIS and ISRO for using Geospatial Technology and satellite technology for various operations of Railways.
BRIEFS ABOUT VARIOUS IT INITIATIVES:
CASH/SMART CARD OPERATED TICKET VENDING MACHINE (CCOTVM)
Cash/Smart Card operated Ticket Vending machine (CCoTVM) is an unmanned self-operated kiosk which can be used by passengers themselves to buy unreserved tickets through Currency/Coins as well as smart cards. These kiosks have easy graphical interface for ticket transaction so that the user can operate these machines. The kiosk accepts currency/coin of all denominations of Rs 5 and above. The machine does not accept soiled/cut/ glued/taped/colored notes and accepts currency notes of Gandhi series. CCoTVMs will reduce queue length at existing ticket counters by providing an alternate unmanned ticketing solution and mode of payment. CCoTVMs have the following functionalities:-
1) Issue of non-concessional second class journey tickets for non-suburban section and second/first class journey/return tickets for suburban section.
2) Issue of Platform Tickets
3) Renewal of non-concessional season tickets.
4) Recharge of smart cards in denominations of Rs. 20/-, Rs. 50/-, Rs. 100/- and Rs. 500/-.
CCoTVM consists of:
1) Thin Client
2) Thermal Printer
3) Touch screen
4) RFID reader
5) Cash Validator with 15 notes escrow
6) Coin Validator with 10 coins escrow
7) The cash box has the capacity to hold 25,000 notes and 3,000 coins.
The basic difference between Automatic Ticket Vending Machine installed upto now and newly introduced CCoTVM is that ATVM can issue tickets through smart cards while CCoTVM can issue tickets using Cash (notes & coins) and smart cards. It can also be used for recharging these smart cards.
Security of CCoTVM:
The machine has two access doors, both at the front side of the machine and is equipped with mechanical & electronic locks. One door is used for maintenance activity by the service engineer. The second door is for accessing the cash box and is integrated with an alarm system. The alarm will go off whenever the door is opened by any unauthorized person. The machine has a cash box with electro mechanical lock at the bottom. Whenever the authorized supervisor wants to open the cash box to takeout shift cash, he/she will gain access to the machine by using a supervisory smart card. On keeping this smart card on the reader slot and pressing the Indian Railway logo on top right side of the screen, the supervisor’s menu will appear on the screen. After entering the password, machine will print the Daily Trains Cash -cum-Summary Book (DTC) for accountal of the collected cash.
PAPERLESS UNRESERVED TICKETING MOBILE APPLICATION
To move forward in line with Digital India, Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) has developed a paperless Unreserved Ticketing feature in Mobile Application “utsonmobile” both for Android and Windows platforms. This will eliminate the need for printing of Unreserved Tickets on ATVMs at the stations. User can download ‘App’ from Google Play Store or Window Store.
The application was rolled out as a pilot project between Chennai Egmore & Tambaram suburban Section of Southern Railway on 22.04.2015 and Churchgate-Dahanu Road suburban section of Western Railway on 08.07.2015. The application has now been implemented on complete suburban area of Chennai & Mumbai Western Railway suburban section which covers 125 stations over 295 kms distance. Presently, about 1600 tickets are being booked daily by the passengers through this application.
The application is now being implemented on the New Delhi-Palwal section of Northern Railway covering 11 stations over 57 kms distance. For paperless ticketing, GPS co-ordinates of railway tracks on the New Delhi-Palwal section, plus 20 meters on either side of the tracks have been earmarked as Geo-Fencing area within which no ticket booking is allowed in order to ensure that passengers have ticket before commencing the journey.
The application provides necessary on-screen alerts to guide the passenger during the booking process. Payment for the ticket is done through the “Railway Wallet” feature in the “App”. After booking the ticket, the passenger will get the ticket confirmation screen which contains limited information of the ticket. The paperless journey ticket will be stored in the local mobile application database in the encrypted form which cannot be tampered with. Ticket booked in paperless mode cannot be cancelled in order to prevent claiming of refund after travel.
The ticket has distinct colour scheme everyday and it is embedded with Quick Response (QR) code. It cannot be forwarded to another mobile or edited or printed. The old invalid tickets will be removed from the mobile device through a sync feature in the ‘App’.
For the purpose of ticket checking, the application has various features such as colour scheme, show ticket features, secret code of the day, booking time of the ticket and scrolling of legend “IR UNRESERVED TICKETING”. In case of mobile in disconnected mode, it will be checked through QR Code.
PARICHAALAN, REAL TIME DECISION MAKING IN FREIGHT OPERATIONS
Freight operations on Indian Railways are monitored through various reports generated by FOIS. These MIS reports represent various facets of freight operations like rolling stock holding of wagons and locomotives, interchange of freight trains with neighbouring divisions/zones, loading details, current train running and terminal performance. These reports are tabular in design and are mostly static in nature.
‘Parichaalan’ is a mobile application conceptualized and developed by CRIS to make decision making on freight operations absolutely easy and user friendly. The application is a powerful tool as it not only represents data in a pictorial and graphical manner that is easily comprehensible but also makes the information dynamic and current in nature. Instead of focusing on post-mortems, Parichaalan moves operations management systems to a higher level of real time decision making.
‘Parichaalan’ overcomes all this by:
• Providing mapped movement of freight trains- the first time ever on IR.
• Providing powerful search tools-removing the need to sift through voluminous tabular data.
• Providing effective Decision Support System-focusing on the right parameters
• Use of powerful graphical interfaces-for easy comprehension of vital parameters of operations.
• Providing an effective planning tool-predictive in nature for planning of movement and loading.
• Providing a paperless tool- environment friendly leading to savings of a 1000 trees per annum.
• Allowing for mobility of officials- Live updates and decision sharing through the App.
• Allowing adequate time for officials- less stressful working environment.
• Allowing for instant information retrieval across multiple pages through hyperlinks.
• Cost saving in procurement of paper, printing and distribution
This App has the potential to earn carbon credits for IR and also can become a revenue generating tool by providing similar logistics solutions for IR customers like CIL, NTPC, SAIL, TISCO, FCI, Oil Co’s, Ports, etc.