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Indian Railways joins with ISRO for real-time train tracking

The Indian Railways is harnessing the power of data analytics for integrated transportation. It has started a project called the Real Time Train Information System (RTIS) that will allow for real-time tracking of train movements using satellite imagery. According to D.K. Singh, Managing Director of the Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS), CRIS has worked with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) for live tracking to assist railways in running trains effectively.

On the sidelines of a conference on “Reimagining Indian Railways: Harnessing the Power of Data Analytics for Integrated Transportation” here on March 3, Mr. Singh and Union Minister for Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw spoke.

According to Mr. Singh, ISRO has created its own regional navigation satellite system called Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC) as well as Bhuvan, a web-based tool that allows users to explore a collection of map-based content being deployed for tracking. “We obtained bandwidth from ISRO and linked our systems with NavIC and Bhuvan. Every locomotive is outfitted with a gadget and SIM card that broadcasts the train’s true location to the satellite and receives feedback. Mr. Singh explained that the movement is updated every three seconds.

Real-time tracking is especially essential during accidents, floods, and landslides, when it is necessary to pinpoint the precise location of the train in order to give assistance. “Till now, 4,000 locomotives have been equipped with the technology, and new locomotives are being produced with the tracking devices pre-installed,” Mr. Singh added.

Mr. Vaishnaw emphasised the Indian Railways’ utilisation of artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum technology. Mr. Vaishnaw stated that a pilot project was now ongoing between Sanchar Bhawan, which houses the Ministry of Electronics, Information, and Technology, and Rail Bhawan, which houses the Ministry of Railways, to employ quantum key encryption to share information in a “non-hackable” manner.

“Communication travels from point A to point B, but when it is encrypted or messed up by a quantum key, it becomes progressively difficult to hack into,” Mr. Vaishnaw stated.

The railways is using data analytics to improve the customer experience, identify vacant seats, and allow more travellers to acquire confirmed tickets.

“Every day, almost 2.3 crore passengers travel on Indian Railways, with 30 lakh passengers travelling on reserved tickets and around two crore passengers travelling on unreserved tickets,” Mr. Singh added.

The CRIS has now created a handheld gadget that can help cut waits by supplying unreserved customers with tickets at stations. Mr. Singh stated that the CRIS has identified 90 use cases where AI can be utilised to improve railway services, such as seat allocation, forecasting when goods trains will be empty, and balancing stock of medicines throughout the railway health infrastructure. “We crunch data and send it to Zonal Railways for problem solving,” Mr. Singh said.

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