Ministry of Railways: Leveraging ICT in a big way

Indian Railways is leveraging IT through AAPORTI, paperless unreserved tickets, Real Time Train Information System (RTIS), Handheld Terminals (HHTs) and modernisation of IRCTC ticketing website and others for improving trains operations and improving custom experience

Indian Railways has leveraged IT in many projects AAPOORTI app for Indian Railways e-procurement system, Paperless Unreserved Tickets, Real Time Train Information System (RTIS), Handheld Terminals (HHTs) and modernisation of IRCTC ticketing website.

AAPOORTI app provides information and data related to e-tendering and e-auction related activities of Indian Railways. For e-tendering activities, users can see details related to tenders published, tenders closed, purchase orders placed. For activities related to e-auction of scrap sale, users can see upcoming auctions, auction schedules, sale conditions, details of material available for e-auction, auctioning units. The app also provides for rating of the app and taking feedback from users which shall help us continuously improve the app.

Railways have experimented with tracking of trains using GPS devices located in the locomotive. For a sustainable solution, RTIS is being implemented whereby GPS tracking devices would communicate using satellite communications. Apart from this, data logger systems already available in track circuited stations are being used at major interchange points to capture arrival/departure information on trains.

In an effort to computerise the transactions of the station master, a Computerised Train Signal Register is going live at 650 stations and this enables arrival/departure information to be transmitted to the Control Office Application (COA) and the National train Enquiry System (NTES) directly from the station master’s desk.

Handheld Terminals (HHTs) are being provided to the Train Ticket Examiners (TTEs) to be able to check the reserved coaches, allot the vacant berths and transmit information on available berths to the subsequent stations. The HHT can also access the ticketing application and collect excess fares as per rules. The terminal can potentially connect to a Point of Sale (POS) machine and charges can be collected digitally.

Paperless Unreserved ticketing on mobile phones was launched at Mumbai in 2014 and has since been expanded to suburban sections of Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Secunderabad and New Delhi-Palwal section of Northern Railway. This has eliminated the need for passengers to stand in queue for getting tickets for journey in unreserved compartments of trains. The ticket is delivered on the mobile phone and is embedded with QR Code. This service has added to passenger convenience and about 4 lakh passengers per day are booking tickets on mobile phones.

Over the last four years, the capacity of IRCTC website has increased to 20,000 tickets per minute starting from 2,000 tickets per minute in 2014, a ten-fold increase. Apart from the capacity, the entire user experience has been improved substantially with the launch a new interface with easier navigation and standard views that enable the passengers to transact smoothly. New features have been added that enable better planning of journeys aiding the passenger to obtain confirmed tickets.

Average per day Unreserved Tickets booked on Mobile:

Year Ticket Bookings Per Day
2014-15 195
2015-16 1,929
2016-17 7,257
2017-18 16,223
2018-19 67,000

Source: Indian Railways

Paperless Unreserved Tickets have moved up from 195 in 2014-15 to 67,000 last year, which is a 35,000% increase over a period of three years.

Digitization of railway supply chain is an ongoing program with new features and facilities being added through the e-procurement system IREPS. IREPS system is largest such G2B portal in India with 90,000 vendor registration. This has helped in achieving objectives of transparency, efficiency and improving ease of doing business.

During 2017-18, 444,000 e-tenders valuing more than Rs. 150,000 crores were issued on IREPS. Online scrap sale of Rs. 2,800 crores was also done last year through e-auction. 90,000 vendors have registered on IREPS website.

Minister of Railways & Coal, Piyush Goyal said, “It is encouraging to note that paperless unreserved tickets have moved up from 195 in 2014-15 to 67,000 last year, which is a 35,000% increase over a period of three years. We have now taken WiFi to 710 railway stations, best in the country in terms of speed. I am proud of Railwaymen who have done that. We have to make Indian Railways efficient, better and customise it for better customer experience by changing the mindset.”

Indian Railways is also focusing on IoT devices in a big way to provide high processing power in small packages with low power consumption to ensure Indian Railways workers are facilitated even while working in harsh environments.