Railways gets on the info track

Guess which train generates the maximum enquiries over the Indian Railways’ information portals?

No, it’s not the Rajdhani or a very long distance train. It’s the Magadh Express, plying between Delhi and Patna.

So why does this particular train get so many queries?

When this question was posed to passengers over Facebook, the simple answer was “because it always runs late”!

Within a short time of going live, Railways site Trainenquiry.com, and Railyatri.in, operated by Stelling Technologies for the National Train Enquiry System (NTES), have managed to dig out some rich customer insights. As Mr Sunil Bajpai, Group General Manager, Centre for Railway Information System, (CRIS) points out, some of these insights could help the Railways build some value-added services on their portals that will be useful to passengers.

Around 9,000 trains run daily on the vast Indian Railways network. Minute by minute, kilometre by kilometre, running information on these as well as operations data from 6,000 railway stations filters into the CRIS office daily.

But till recently this huge volume of data was not getting transferred to the customer. Now, some of it is getting mined and being put “in real time” on Trainenquiry.com as well as Railyatri.in, and available to users online as well as over mobile phones. “We also plan to open the API (Application programming Interface) in such a way that third party service providers can source this information and provide it as well,” says Mr Bajpai.

Already, over Trainenquiry.com and Railyatri.in, passengers can find out the exact spot a train is at any given point. Going forward, useful information such as which platform it will chug into and perhaps even the exact spot on the platform a particular coach will halt at could be shared.

Convenience
And all this without typing the train number (a major pain point for passengers trying to buy tickets on railway portals) but simply the name. “We found that most people disliked remembering numbers so have made searches easier by name,” says Mr Manish Rathi, CEO, Stelling Technologies, the tech company that powers Railyatri.in. According to Mr Bajpai, the number of daily visitors on the train enquiry site is already running into lakhs. “And this is only ten per cent of the total traffic that comes to the Railway Web sites.”

Mr Rathi says the information exchange could facilitate value-added services such as cab rentals for passengers. The data mining in real time could even help alert Railways when something untoward happens. As Mr Rathi points out, based on the information flow on Railyatri.in they can reliably say the recent Hubli-Bangalore-Hampi Express accident in Andhra Pradesh happened between 3.00 a.m. and 3.05 a.m. “We get information feeds on a train every five kilometres it traverses, which is every five minutes, and the feed stopped at 3.00 a.m.,” he says.

http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/industry-and-economy/marketing/article3533120.ece?homepage=true&ref=wl_home

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