Centre for Railway Information Systems Launches New Interface for Train Enquiry

Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS), the IT wing of Indian Railways, has developed an enhanced new interface for the http://www.trainenquiry.com for dissemination of information to public. National Train Enquiry System (NTES) developed by CRIS is the back end system which collects information about train running on near real time basis and disseminates information through interfaces like nationwide unique number 139, Website http://www.trainenquiry.com, face to face enquiry, mobile interfaces etc.

The new interface is accessible through http://www.trainenquiry.com or http://www.enquiry.indianrail.gov.in.

The new interface for the website was made public for past one week as field trial to get users’ feedback. The new interface, which offers quick and easy access to essential information for passengers, has been largely appreciated for its speed, simple interface and richness of information and smooth user experience. This new interface has been launched with effect from 6th September 2013.

Main features of the website provided under different Tabs on the Home page are as under:-

“Spot your train”- This query offers information about a train like Train Schedule, current running status, expected time of arrival/expected time of departure (ETA/ETD) at queried station.Complete running of the selected train can be easily seen through this interface.

“Station”- This query has been given to replicate the display boards at station. One can see, sitting at home the trains expected to arrive/depart at any given station in next 2/4/6/8 hours.Stations can be entered through code or name both. Option is also given to automatically refresh the screen every two minutes.

“Trains between Stations” – A very valuable query covering all trains defined on IR between any two stations. This complete information is presently not available on any other government website.

“Trains Cancelled”– This query displays all trains cancelled on IR. The tab displays trains which are cancelled through entire route as well as cancelled partially and providing service on partial route.

“Rescheduled” and “Diverted” – These queries display all trains marked as rescheduled or diverted on IR. The respective tabs display trains rescheduled timings and diverted route (from – to) information.

Some general characteristics are that all train numbers in different pages have been given as hyperlinks to view the schedule and current running. Pages have been kept light weight to enhance the speed of the website. All the information is navigable from a single home page with minimum clicks. Mobile version of the site is also available through same URL.

The interface has been made bilingual with Hindi version available on the website.

As part of the IR/CRIS ongoing efforts to enhance the quality and availability of information to public, new features such as separate pages for special trains and major events would be made available subsequently.

The existing website interface running as beta version will be replaced with the new interface. All other interfaces namely Events (events.trainenquiry.com), Rail Radar (railradar.trainenquiry.com),Rail Radar Fog view (railradar.trainenquiry.com/fog), SpecialTrains(trainenquiry.com/liveupdates/SpecialTrains.aspx)

Mobile (mobile.trainenquiry.com) and (onthego.trainenquiry.com) will be redirected to the new interface and all the information will be available through the new web interfaces.


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.

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.