Railways laps up IITians’ map for Local Network

Mumbai:  Days after students of Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B) came up with a visually appealing railway map, the Indian Railways has asked the institute whether it can use the map for representational purpose.

“We have requested the Industrial Design Centre (IDC) at IIT-B to use the map for representational purpose as a token of appreciation for their novel initiative,” said Atul Rane, public relations officer, Central Railway.

“We have approached the IIT-B team to acquire the design for the railway’s official internal communication,” he added.

Over 40 lakh commuters use Mumbai’s local services every day. To ease commuters’ woes, the Central Railway is mulling installing signages across stations – a concept similar to tourist-friendly directions installed at Delhi and Paris metro stations.

“We are thinking over the proposal to introduce signage boards and foldable maps,” said Rane.

Also, the Central Railway authorities studied the map’s draft version in detail and have pointed out errors to the IIT-B team.  “The terminal station codes for Asangaon, Wadala Road, Panvel,

Chembur and Mankhurd stations were erroneous. For example, the terminal station code for Asangaon is ‘AN’ whereas the draft version displays ‘AS.’ We have written to the IDC team so that it can be corrected in the final version of the map which they could share with the Central Railway,” Rane told.

Mandar Rane, associate professor at IDC, IIT-B, said he was happy to share the map design with the Central Railway.

“With efforts of the railway authorities, the dream of putting up life size sign boards of the map can be realised.  When we can have vending machines at the airports and televisions displaying advertisements in buses, why not have maps installed at stations,” said Mandar.

“Our primary aim is to give the people and Mumbai a user-friendly rail map. We are interested in reaching out to a maximum number of people through a distribution model,” he added.

He said that IDC is coming up with solutions to make a commuter’s life easier. “The reader can download the map in Hindi and English versions from the website. We are working on uploading a Gujarati version and also adding travel-time information between stations,” said Mandar.

The team is also ideating to develop smart phone applications and merchandise for tourists.

“Travelling by locals is an amazing experience for a foreign tourist and the map coupled with apps will reduce their anxiety. We are open to collaborate with application developers, merchandise companies and sponsors for the same,” he added.

Easing commuters’ travel problems
The need to create a comprehensive map was felt by the students after observing that there was a lack of commuter-friendly signages at stations. The colour-coded map — designed by first-year masters in visual communication students, Jaikishan Patel and Snehal Patil — comprises routes that link western, central, harbour and trans-harbour station. The first-of-its-kind initiative, is especially designed for the colour-blind.