Seminar on “Role Of Information Technology in Rail Services – Present and Future” Inaugurated

Rail IT

New Delhi: A seminar on the theme “Role of IT in Rail Services – Present and Future” was inaugurated by the Minister of State for Railways Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury here today. The seminar which was organized by the Centre for Transportation Research and Management (C-TRAM), an autonomous body of the Ministry of Railways, brought together the eminent professionals from Information Technology (IT) sector, industries and rail users and corporate managers to deliberate on the current status of IT and its future prospects for Indian Railways to expand and improve its quality of service. The objective of this seminar was to generate ideas through interaction between the key players and the Indian Railways about new areas where IT can be put to use. Present on occasion were Arunendra Kumar, Chairman, Railway Board, D.P.Pande, Member Traffic, Kul Bhushan, Member Electrical, Alok Johri, Member Mechanical of Railway Board, Mrs.Suhash Kumar, Advisor (Freight Marketing) and MD, CRIS and R.C.Dubey, Executive Director, C-TRAM.

Noted IT expert Kiran Karnik delivered the key note address at the seminar.

Speaking on the occasion Minister of State for Railways Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that “this seminar is deliberating on a very timely, topical and important subject of “Information Technology” which has become indispensable part of our day to day life. The system is now moving from paper to paper-less delivery of services, he added”.

The Minister said that “Indian Railways have had a healthy tradition of utilizing Information Technology in their day to day operations in the last 40 years. Referring to the wide scale railway operations, the Minister pointed out that Railways is presently carrying over a billion tonnes of freight and over 8 billions of passengers annually. The Minister emphasized that this corresponds to around 27 lakh trucks a day and 22 million passengers a day. He said that IT is helpful in serving rail users of this scale effectively and efficiently. IT enabled passenger and freight information services have made it possible for the rail user to access the services increasingly from his desk top or lap top or even his mobile phone. Internally also, Railways have utilized computerization extensively to provide quick and efficient processing of data. Almost all departments use computerized applications in their day to day work, to collect information from the lowest levels of the organization and disseminate it to the managerial levels for quick and effective decision making”.

The Minister Sh. Chowdhury said that “India has been recognized as a major source of young IT professionals as most new IT initiatives in the developed world like USA are handled by Indian professionals. The Minister talked of inclusive growth of the country and called upon to strengthen IT literacy in the country taking marginalized sections on board on this journey. Mr.Chowdhury said that there is long way for Indian Railways to go in utilizing the real potential of IT for use of railways’ Commercial Operation and Asset Management Functions”.

Mr Chowdhury hoped that the seminar would deliberate on all aspects of IT and will throw some useful suggestions that railways need to implement for the next generation.

In his speech, Chairman, Railway Board, Arunendra Kumar said that “Indian Railways have adopted Information Technology since 1960s and the results are there for all of us to see. IR have extended the benefits of computerization to the common man by making it easy for him to buy train tickets at his convenience. We have enabled freight customers to pay for their transactions through a computerized payment gateway. Railways are providing information to the customers about train running, accommodation status, reservation status etc, which has been possible by computerization and use of Information Technology. Most of the initiatives taken by Railways have been widely recognized and appreciated. Railways can justly be proud of our achievements in the area of IT”. Kumar said that “Over the years, Railways have been expanding the ambit of IT for use in various operational areas of rail transportation and customer services. Starting from pay roll to passenger ticketing and reservation, IR has used IT to facilitate a wider clientele of freight, container and parcel transport users. Freight Operation Information System (FOIS) is helping Railways in getting on line real time information about trains and reduce the time spent on collecting and collating information”. The Chairman Railway Board, also said that “we have to further take steps to bring maximum value to the organization through the use of IT. He also suggested that a certain percentage of budget should be earmarked for IT activities so that sufficient funds are available for implementing IT projects”.

Delivering key note address, noted IT expert Kiran Karnik said that “Railway is flag bearer in the use of information technology and should continue to set new bench mark in the use of IT. He said Railways has lot of big data flowing through its operations. He said that Railways can undertake comprehensive data analysis which can be utilized for various activities like predicting passengers movement, demand patterns etc. Sh. Kiran Karnik said that the freight loading of the Railways need to be further strengthen and expanded to cut the cost of logistics. Emphasizing the need for safety, Sh. Kiran Karnik said that new and innovative methods and designs to enhance safety may come through extensive use of information technology. Sh. Kiran Karnik said that there is also a need to leverage the use of next stage cloud computing for bringing efficiency in the Railway operations”.

Speaking on the occasion, D.P.Pande, Member Traffic, Railway Board, said that in the ticketing field Indian Railways have progressed in e-ticketing where now about 50% tickets are sold on the internet. In the passenger business front, IT has acted as a great enabler. Premium Trains are being planned on the basis of MIS Reports generated. He said that it is the endeavour of Indian Railways to reduce queues and therefore, 1030 ATVMs have already been installed and it is proposed to proliferate it further to about 3500 coin and currency operated ATVMs. Indian Railways is also working on e-railway receipts and e-forwarding note. The aim of IT is to act as an information highway where and when required for both internal and external customer and also to act as a personal productivity tool, he added. Indian Railways is keen at improving the quality of services. Increasing use of IT and computerisation has been of considerable help in this effort. Indian Railways are one of the oldest Government organisations to use Information Technology for better management and improving customer services. Starting with payroll accounting, today Indian Railways is using IT for its freight transportation data, passenger ticketing and reservations, rail enquiry and even Passenger grievance redressal. With the result, life has become much easier for passengers for booking their tickets and getting information for their journey.

One of the key objectives of CTRAM has been to provide a forum for cross – sectoral and cross – functional dialogue between policymaking professionals and academics on issues pertaining to transportation with special focus on the dynamic developments unfolding in the transport sector in India. CTRAM has already conducted thirteen National seminars on issues pertaining to transport industry in general and Indian Railways in particular.