Flight Tracking

Rail Radar: Tracking trains on a Google Map

A few years ago I stumbled upon a live flight tracking system called Casper which later evolved into a full fledged commercial service to get real time flight tracking data called Casper Flights. I have worked for the Indian Railways and answered a million queries about train arrivals/departures to passengers. I always fancied how it would be to get a live data of train movements and now the dream has come into reality. The Rail Radar marks a major milestone on the Digital Governance highway the Indian Railways is cruising in.

rail-radar-indian-railways-view

Now you can spot almost any train on a Google Map and color coded to distinguish the ones running on-time(blue) and those delayed(red). On the left side is the search button, where you can search for a train number or by name and it will show you the train position on the Google Map. On the right top corner a tiny bar shows the percentage of train running on-time and delayed and also the total trains active at present. At present the data is updated every five minutes. The Rail Radar is the logical evolution of the National Train Enquiry System which was able to show the running status of a train and the arrival/departure time at stations.

How is the data generated for this mapping? In simplistic terms consider that Indian Railways has train passing monitoring points around the country at more than 6000 locations. These monitoring points in real-time mode communicate updates on train arrival, departure, or passing to a central headquarter server. In substantial cases these updates are automated however there are places/situations where this reporting is also done manually. The data is generated and officially held by Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS). The Rail Radar shows only passenger trains.

Here is a comparison chart I made between Casper and Rail Radar. Though it means comparing the earth and the sky(literally) you may find it interesting.

Parameter

Casper

Rail Radar

Delay in Update Approx. 40 seconds Minimum 5 mins.
Data Capture method Flights fitted with mode-s transponder  broadcast their position Data collection points at more than 6000 locations most of it is automated.
Cost Free and Paid options Free and in Beta.
Geography Across Europe Indian Railway Network
Data Source Data sourced from receivers. You can offer yours too. Proprietary

 

Rail Radar: Official CV (from their FAQ)

RailRadar™ is a live tracker of Indian Railways passenger trains traffic in real time. This live tracker is shown on an interactive map and allows users to watch the movements of trains which are currently running in entire India. RailRadar™ is an outcome of innovation where Indian Railways Center for Railway Information System (CRIS) and RailYatri.in joined hands.

The core motivation behind building RailRadar™ was an age-old saying – “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Today we believe that it can be more! Over the last decade, train network and traffic in India have grown tremendously. Indian Railways expects this trend to continue over the next few decades.

There is also an yellow icon which represents a train which is currently expected to reach its next stop on time (typically with delays of 15 mins or less).

Update:

The Rail Radar project has been shelved and presently the link forwards to http://enquiry.indianrail.gov.in/ntes/ . As per this news the new interface is developed by CRIS and is touted to be more user friendly. However this seems a very regressive step by CRIS to maintain its monopoly of Railway information. Just have a look. The project moved from

Rail Radar

 

and this

Rail Radar features

 

to this bland interface

NTES-screen

 

 

This is a very regressive step taken by CRIS without much explanation. However such monopoly can be held for long. Citizens need data that can make their life easier. And i hope that the step will reversed soon. What do you think could be reason for shelving such a good project. Share your comments below.