Railways to harness WiFi, hand-helds, POS terminals, drones, GPS to improve passenger comfort
New Delhi, February 25 2016: The Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu while presenting Railway Budget 2016-17 in Parliament today said that the process has begun to introduce Wi-Fi services at stations especially for youth and business travellers.
He proposed to commission Wi-Fi services at 100 stations this year and at 400 more stations in the next 2 years. He said that Indian Railways is partnering with Google in this endeavour.
This year, an application of Track Management System (TMS) was launched. With this, activities of track inspection, monitoring and maintenance have thus been switched over to an IT platform, and automatic alerts in the form of SMS and e-mails are being generated
Indian Railways intends to commence sale of tickets through hand held terminals for the benefit of the suburban and short distance travelers. This would enable deployment of multiple ‘Points of Sale’ with minimal infrastructure requirement. He also said that Indian Railways intends initiating sale of platform tickets through ticket vending machines which would be made compatible with not only cash but also credit/debit cards. He also announced to open the e-ticketing facility to foreign debit/credit cards for foreign tourists and NRIs in the next 3 months.
The Railways had introduced 1,780 Automatic Ticket Vending Machines, Mobile apps and GoIndia smartcard. GoIndia smartcard will enable cashless purchase of UTS and PRS tickets. Mobile apps introduced for purchasing of unreserved and platform tickets. Capacity of e-ticketing system has been enhanced from 2,000 tickets per minute to 7,200 tickets per minute and will support 1,20,000 concurrent users as against only 40,000 earlier.
NASSCOM welcomes the technology focused initiatives that were announced as a part of Shri. Suresh Prabhu’s Railway Budget 2016. We are glad to note that the government is walking the talk on IT integration and deployment of e-services, to achieve the dream of Digital India. Aimed at showcasing a positive future for railways in India; the inclusion of GPS based digital displays in coaches, and the setting up Wi-Fi internet in 100 station this year, are initiatives that will not only streamline services in the railways, but also benefit customers across the board. The minister has also announced the utilization of drones for remote monitoring of on-going projects, which is an imperative to ensure timely completion of projects. With the railways, ready to take the next leap in setting high speed rail networks, these announcements are testimony to the centre’s commitment towards the upgradation of services; giving the transportation lifeline of India its due.Additionally, the setting aside of Rs.50 crore for providing innovation grants to employees, start-ups and businesses is an holistic and commendable approach towards scaling up the innovation and entrepreneurial landscape in the railway sector.
M.N.Vidyashankar, President, India Electronics & Semiconductor Association:This budget, Indian Railways has taken a step further towards Smarter Transportation. We are immensely pleased about the Ministry of Railways’ intent to make travelling more commuter friendly. We are clearly inching towards a technology-driven Rail dispensation. GPS-based digital display in coaches and the introduction of bar-coded tickets not only bring more transparency but will also enhance security and comfort for the travelling public.The scheme of wi-fi installations in 500 railway stations by next year, will witness a further reduce the Country's digital gap. The technology infrastructure has to be upgraded, keeping in view the growth in passenger-cargo traffic, with a 20-year perspective. The semiconductor companies will have a significant role to play to enable the FM radio stations to work effectively in the running trains. Overall, a good Railway Budget for the players in the tech space and we believe, that IT and ESDM landscape will continue to contribute to the development of Indian Railways.
Pushpinder Singh, Co-founder and CEO, Travelkhana which has tied-up with IRCTC last month for e-catering:The government move of expanding e-catering to 400 stations and decouple food distribution with food preparation will be extremely helpful for us. Lately the realization on part of railways to decouple food preparation with food distribution will allow startups like us to make available the best quality food for passengers. This will also open up many affiliated activities to be availed by the passengers.Another major announcement is the Rs 50 Crore Navrachna fund for Innovation. This is a great first step for startups and companies to come out with innovations in partnership with Railways. This will also have prominent Venture Capitalists and PE funds to pay bigger attention to companies engaged in the areas related to Railways and solving ground level problems related to the masses.