Indian Railways, the 163-year-old workhorse, which ferries 23 Mn passengers and 3 Mn tonnes of freight daily from 7,349 stations is set for an overhaul riding on the back of artificial intelligence and satellite technology.
Unveiling its next-gen plans, Indian Railways said it would revamp its IRCTC website and use satellites to capture the arrival and departure of trains in real-time.
Railway Board Chairman, VK Yadav said that the processes on the IRCTC website will be simplified and personalised with the use of artificial intelligence. Additionally, the portal will be integrated with hotel booking sites, as well as meal bookings, he said. The website was last upgraded in 2018.
Adding that the new ticket booking website will be rolled out in August, Yadav said, “Passengers will have a much better experience when the new portal is launched. Artificial intelligence will be used to provide a better ticket booking experience for passengers. The AI will predict the booking pattern for passengers and suggest the best possible combination of trains available.”
Yadav said the railways has completed geospatial mapping of all of its assets, including overhead equipment (OHE), signaling system, tracks and land plans.
The Indian Railways has also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for satellite tracking of trains. This will help in capturing real-time of the arrival and departure of trains. It will also help passengers know the movement of trains on a real-time basis.
The railways on July 23 had said QR Code tickets will be generated to ensure contactless ticket checking. Passengers booking tickets on both online and offline modes will be able to avail of this facility. As a result, there won’t be any contact between passengers and railway employees. Passengers purchasing a ticket will receive an SMS containing the QR code which ticket checking officials can scan using handheld equipment.
Earlier this week, railways launched ‘CheckIn Master’ – an app for staff to conduct contactless ticket checks at stations. The app can check PRS and UTS tickets by scanning the OCR and QR codes.
Earlier today, IRCTC and SBI Card launched their new Co-branded Contactless Credit Card on RuPay Platform to expedite transactions at the POS machines.
Currently, the Indian railways uses digital applications like freight operations information system (FOIS), e-registration of demand, e-payment gateway, integrated coaching management system (ICMS), control office application (COA), crew management system (CMS), software-aided train scheduling system (SATSANG), safety information management system (SIMS), and auto-generation of optimised loco links for its operations.
These technological innovations have been the focus area of Indian Railways for some time now. Earlier this year, it decided to incorporate 20 innovations to make rail journeys safer and more comfortable. These innovations have been developed by the railway department and its employees. They include bell warnings to alert travelers minutes before a train departs, real-time CCTV monitoring inside coaches, the printing of unreserved tickets through a mobile application on a mass scale.