Role of Information Systems in Indian Railways
Table of ContentsINTRODUCTION3INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND THE INDIAN RAILWAYS4LEVELS OF INFORMATION SYSTEMS6NEED OF CRIS71.Freight Operations Information Systems (FOIS)82.Passenger Reservation System (PRS)113.National Train Enquiry Service (NTES)134.Booking Of Tickets On The Internet145.Integrated Coaching Management System (ICMS)156.Unreserved Ticketing System (UTS)177.Office Automation & E-Working Group (OEAW)19Challenges faced by Railways22FUTURE TRENDS IN IT IN INDIAN RAILWAYS24References24
Indian Railways is a Department of the Government of India, under the Ministry of Railways, and is tasked with operating the rail network in India. The Ministry is headed by a cabinet rank Railways Minister, while the Department is managed by the Railway Board. Indian Railways is not a private corporate body; however, as of recently, IR has adopted a corporate management style.Indian Railways has a total state monopoly on India's rail transport. It is one of the largest and busiest rail networks in the world, transporting seventeen million passengers and more than two million tons of freight daily. IR is the world's largest commercial or utility employer, with more than 1.6million employees.The railways traverse the length and breadth of the country; the routes cover a total length of more than 63,327km (39,500miles).]As of 2008, IR owned about 225,000 wagons, 45,000 coaches and 8300 locomotives and ran more than 18,000 trains daily, including about 8,984 passenger trains and 9,387 goods trains.Railways were first introduced to India in 1853. By 1947, the year of India's independence, there were forty-two rail systems. In 1951 the systems were nationalized as one unit, becoming one of the largest networks in the world. Indian Railways operates both long distance and suburban rail systems.Todays Business Challenges for the Indian Railways Increased operational efficiency Improve productivity from existing systems Streamline and optimize business procedures Responsiveness to constituents Create end-to-end visibility into the business Make the information accessible and actionable Adaptability to change Re-act quickly to threats and opportunities Turn IT into a competitive business asset
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND THE INDIAN RAILWAYS
Indian Railways has been a pioneer in the use of IT in India. IT was first adopted in the 1960s, when computerized passenger and freight revenue accounting, payroll and inventory management were introduced using IBM 1401 computers placed in zonal data centers. Later on, notable success has been achieved in the form of the passenger reservation system (PRS) in the mid eighties, and its subsequent enhancement to a fully networked application. The freight operations information system (FOIS) is currently under implementation. It will greatly change the way freight train movement and goods consignments are monitored in the Indian Railways.
HistoryData processing centers were created way back in the 60s. Also the legacy systems like Pay roll systems, inventory management and operating statistics were involved. These systems involved high processing of information. The applications evolved but the functionalities remained the same. There were many attempts to create Human Resource Management, MMIS and office applications for automation.But the problems were aplenty, as upgrading systems with newer technologies was very difficult. The older platform used by the legacy systems didnt integrate well with new applications using new platforms.
ObjectiveA large complex Infrastructure System such as the Indian Railways can benefit greatly from the intelligent use of IT.Objectives of using Information Technology in Indian Railways can be classified as: Freight revenue enhancement Passenger revenue enhancement Improved and optimized service
Two Fold Role of IT IT provides the means for increasing the efficiency of the Indian Railways. There are two different roles of IT in an organization.ROLE 1: An information highwayIn this role IT provides information across the organization where and when required, through a number of standard applications that allow capture of information at the point of generation and then dissemination of the captured information.ROLE 2: A Personal Productivity ToolIt is a tool for increasing productivity at all levels. Several pre-packaged applications like Office suites, website management, e-mail etc. fall into this category.
Roadmap for IT in RailwaysFive year periodStageDescription
Period 1:2005-10AutomationThe automation of the existing functional areas of railways. Examples are PRS and FOIS. By 2010, process automation will be by and large complete.
Period 2:2010-15SynergyIn synergy stage the separate systems put in place will begin to interchange information amongst them and this information interchange process will be automated by the end of this period.
Period 3:2015-20Global AcceptanceThe databases across the organizational network will find increasing acceptance as authentic sources of information.
Period 4:2020-25IntegrationA total revamp of IS built in the last twenty years. It will include forecasting, modeling etc.
This table essentially helps us to understand the manner in which the Indian Railways is adopting IT. And tells us which phase it is currently in. This provides better understanding of the current projects in motion. It outlines the larger strategy and goal that they are part of. This sustained strategy implies that the Indian Railways understands the need of using IT in making its operations more efficient and profitable.LEVELS OF INFORMATION SYSTEMS
The Railway information systems were categorized into various levels. Each level has its own importance and a strong base is required at lower levels to support the higher level systems. The basic idea is that for each organizational level information system support must be provided. Level No:LevelType of SystemDescriptionExamples
1OperationalTransaction processing systemA TPS helps to streamline operating tasks and is primarily for use by frontline staff.PRS and FOIS
2Knowledge LevelOffice Automation SystemSet of tools that enables knowledge workers to streamline their own work.MS Office Suite
Knowledge Work SystemSet of tools that enable skilled workers in specialized jobs to streamline their work.Computer Aided Design(CAD)
3ManagerialManagement Information SystemIt collects information from the base TPS system, collates it and presents it to the management.MIS reports in PRS and FOIS
Decision Support SystemIt provides assistance to managers in taking decisions. Highly summarized data which allows analysis.
4StrategicExecutive Support SystemAssists top management in formulating long term policies and plans.Long Range Decision Support Systems(LRDSS)
NEED OF CRISCentre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) was established in 1986 by the Ministry of Railways at Chanakyapuri, New Delhi. It was to be an umbrella organization for all computer activities in the Indian Railways. They were also entrusted with the task of the design, development and implementation of the Freight Operations Information Systems (FOIS), along with its associated communications infrastructure. This Centre started functioning from July 1987. It is an autonomous organization headed by a Managing Director. CRIS is mainly a project oriented organization engaged in development of major computer systems on the Railways. CRIS has acquired special knowledge and expertise in the field of informatics. With such rich practical experience, a dedicated team of professionals and its own R&D effort, CRIS aims to be a leader in this fast developing field. Today, CRIS has come a long way with its activities encompassing the entire gamut of design, development, implementation and maintenance of large online applications, such as Freight Operations Information Systems (FOIS) and Passenger Reservation System (PRS) of Indian Railways. CRIS approach focuses on new ways of business combining IT innovation and adoption while also leveraging an organization's current IT assets. CRIS works with the Indian Railways to build new products or services and to implement prudent business and technology strategies in today's dynamic digital environment.
Project at CRIS:The followingare the main projectsthat are handledby CRIS:1. Freight Operation Information System (FOIS)2. Passenger Reservation System (PRS)/ Alpha Migration (CONCERT)3. National Train Enquiry System (NTES)4. Booking of Tickets on Internet5. Integrated Coaching Management System (ICMS) 6. Unreserved Ticketing System (UTS)7. Office Automation & E-Working Group (OEAW)
1. Freight Operations Information Systems (FOIS)
Indian Railways have decided not only to perform the traditional tasks of carrying passengers and goods efficiently, but also to change the mindset of working in a closed system. There has been a longstanding demand of the industry for transparency in sharing of information to give the customers an up to date businesslike environment. 1. Continuous cargo visibility has always been viewed as the most critical component of any physical distribution system. FOIS enables freight customers to have instant access to information regarding the current status of their consignments in transit, for just in time inventory. It is a system for management and control of freight movement that also assists managers to optimise asset utilisation. 2. FOIS comprises the Rake Management System (RMS) for handling the operating portion and Terminal Management System (TMS) pertaining to the commercial transactions. TMS has been installed at more than 300 locations and with the availability of infrastructure will cover all major handling