RailYatri.in uses crowdsourced information to give real-time railway updates.

Where has the train reached? Which station? Is it on time? These questions often make you anxious when loved ones are aboard. But, getting answers may not always be possible. Hold onto your horses! Noida-headquartered RailYatri.in now gives a user updated information about train movement.

RailYatri.in covers around 80 per cent of 3.29 million square kms of India with 7,500 trains/week, 9000 train stations and 20 million daily travellers to share real time updates with passengers. Another brainchild, RailRadar gives real time visualization of all trains running in India on Google Maps, an endeavour that received visibility in international media.

Using the site, the company, in collaboration with CRIS (Centre for Railway Information Systems), help users zoom the map and get details of a train’s movement along a particular station.In addition, users can search for a particular train and also get the running status, location, route and stoppages of a train. Status of a train – whether it is on time or not – can also be obtained on the website.

“All of us including our dear ones are regular users of Indian Railways. When we started, there was simply a mission to figure out how and in what way can the simple question of ‘Where my train is’ be answered by the passengers,” is how Manish Rathi, the co-founder and CEO of RailYatri, describes his idea.

Rathi has worked across the telecommunications, wireless and software industries for nearly 16 years.A US patent holder, Rathi completed his dual masters from Michigan and did his Bachelors in Production Engineering from the University of Mumbai. A technology enthusiast, Manish is also an avid blogger.

Interestingly, Rathi is not alone in his venture. He has Sachin Saxena as co-founder.

A Stanford and IIT Graduate; Sachin has over 20 years’ experience with enterprise software start-ups and established companies. His experience spans leadership roles in professional services with teams in the US, India, Ukraine, Japan, and Argentina.

According to Rathi, the idea for the website came up during a train journey. While taking one, he had difficulty in locating the train.

“It occurred to me that if a 8 by 10 inch courier be located at various stages of its transit, there has to be a better way to get the right location of a train,” he added. Thus was born RailYatri.

Of course startups have their share of labour troubles. And it was no different for RailYatri. Conceptualising and executing a solution targeted at 80 per cent of India’s travel base involves dealing with overwhelming numbers.

“With the evolution of platforms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter, there has been a fundamental change in the manner in which information is consumed by people. People now want information customised to their requirements delivered promptly via medium of their choice,” says Rathi

The key was to make smart decisions – in areas such as product management, technology & R&D.

Engaging with Indian Railways to understand their operations was a significant learning curve.

Time was spent with the Railways to obtain a deeper understanding of their operations. And finally, the hands-on approach paid off. RailYatri came up with better products to help passengers travel smarter.

RailYatri.in started a pilot on the Sabarimala festival. It provided travellers with train-related information specific to the festival on the Train Enquiry website, but also gave this information feed to civic and law enforcement authorities, media channels, etc.

After this successful pilot, RailYatri launched trainenquiry.com’s new version. This incorporated a new search that allows users to search either by name or code of a train/station.Emphasis was laid not just on finding the current position of the train; but also in determining the best algorithm to predict the time the train is expected to reach an upcoming station.

“We have seen dependency grow on web and mobile versions grow by 200 per cent over the last 12 months. Our next step was to develop an application that could track live position of train on maps,” Rathi said. Hence, Rail Radar in October 2012.

Last winter, an interactive display of fog-impact on train movement on RailRadar in addition to information information on trainenquiry.com was launched.

“A specific micro-site for Kumbh also came up and in future we would look to launch specific events pages that impact the Rail traveller,” Rathi hopes. Perhaps Rail travel will be more fun then.

abhishek.l@thehindu.co.in

http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/todays-paper/tp-oncampus/chugging-on-web-rails/article4559332.ece

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