Indian Railways

Rail Radar HotSpots Allows You to Plan Your Journey without Disruption.

One of my post on Rail Radar at Govperneur blog crossed 6000 pageviews . It was an unexpected but pleasant milestone. So i went back and reviewed the article. To my utter dismay i found that the Rail Radar project which was covered in the article has been closed down and link now redirects to the National Train Enquiry Service (NTES)  website of the Indian Railways (CRIS).  On further digging i found that the project which was lauched in partnership with Rail Yatri has been shelved in favour of a new interface (supposedly user friendly) developed by CRIS  in this article.

In that article i had shared that this project marks a major milestone in the digital governance highway the Indian railways is cruising in. With the closing of this project in favour of the new inhouse interface by CRIS the project has moved backwards.  However not to be left behind, Rail Yatri (Stelling Technologies) has created Rail Radar Hotspots. This site provides train movements as per scheduled timings (since CRIS is maintaining its monopoly of train movement data) and also highlights the hotspots which are likely disrupt your travel.

Rail Radar by Rail Yatri

RailRadar™ HotSpots is a live tracker of spots of significant events and incidents called as ‘HotSpots’ occurring across the country which has or has the potential of impacting train travel in India. This live tracker is shown on an interactive map and allows users to locate these HotSpots across the country. It also helps determine if any of the scheduled train has the potential of getting impacted by it.

The effects of these HotSpots vary in terms of severity. Some of the known after-effects which we have tracked are as follows –

  • Widespread cancellation of services (partial or fully)
  • Changes in time schedule or route schedule
  • Delays
  • Rush in trains, unavailability of seats, etc.
  • Accidents/Mishaps
  • Increase in crime.
  • Increased cost of travel

It is difficult to predict a complete list of events or incidents which can impact train travel. However, one can take clues from past events/incidents over the years which have resulted in train travel getting affected in adverse manner. Some of them are –

  • Accidents, Mishaps, Breakdowns
  • Engineering & Construction work and maintenance
  • Significant public gatherings
  • Weather, Natural Calamity, etc.
  • Man-made disruptions
  • Events which cannot be explained or be attributed to – but typically are outcome of Chaos Theory or Domino Effect.

Every year thousands of such reported across the nation which has resulted in significant impact on travel.

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. Also increasingly Indian Railways passengers today want to know more – beyond just ‘an’ ETA of ‘a’ train at ‘a’ station. As the volume and complexity of information increases – we believe that new methods of information dissemination (associated with Trains) will be required. RailRadar™ is one such attempt on that line. We believe that value of information/directions can greatly be enhanced when presented graphically rather than just plain text.

RailRadar™ HotSpots is one such representation of information dissemination mechanism associated with events which can significantly impact train travel in India.

How this affects us?

The larger public interest is affected as CRIS is trying to maintain its monopoly of train data. They should release it as API and allow for innovation. Many innovations are possible like this Wake up call System called Pyka.

The Government has embarked on a mission to promote Open Data and to bring more information into the public domain. Much of the information published there are just statistics. It will be game changer if government takes a proactive approach in releasing such data that are relevant to large section of the population day in and day out.

This my friends represents the challenge and opportunity for Govpreneurs. What other data can be released by the Government that can have a major impact in citizen friendly government. Share your comments.

Credits – FAQs at Rail Radar Hotspots

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.