Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS), the IT arm of Indian Railways, has partnered with Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) to develop a GPS-based device for trains, which will provide real-time train tracking with an accuracy of 10 metres and latency of 2 mins, reports The Economic Times. The move seems to be in line with last year’s railway budget which stressed on introducing GPS devices for preventing accidents. While the cost of installing GPS devices in each train would vary from Rs 70,000 to Rs 1,00,000, the total investment in the project is not known. We are filing an RTI with the railways to get information on the total cost of the project, to know if there was a tender document and if other companies had placed bids.

Using this GPS device, trains might be able to automatically gauge location of other trains and apply brakes accordingly, in the near future,in a bid to prevent accidents. Also, this device will help in improving train scheduling, based on weather conditions, according to the report. The report also mentions that these devices will be fitted in 100 trains initially, and that the railways intends to install these GPS device into all trains by the end of 2013.

Google Maps Integration: What’s interesting here though, is that CRIS has integrated the GPS app into Google Maps, allowing passengers to view their current location on Google Maps, in real time. So Users will be able track trains in realtime on Indian Railways portal at Indianrailways.gov.in, as per the report.

Security concerns? While this would make it convenient for passengers to track trains, there could be some security concerns, as train positions would be a click away, for anyone, including someone with a malicious intent.

SIMRAN: In March 2010, Indian Railways had announced a similar project called Satellite Imaging for Rail Navigation (SIMRAN), which aimed at providing real-time train tracking through GPS and mobile (GSM) technologies. This project was built in collaboration by Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO), Lucknow and IIT Kanpur. The service was launched in October 2011 on a pilot/trial basis and allowed users to track select trains like the Rajdhani, Shatabdi and a few other trains in real time, on the web portal Simran.in and on SMS. Along with the real-time train positions, the portal also offered various information like the train speed, train status and the nearest station in 10 Indian languages including Hindi, Marathi, Bangla, Gujarathi, Kannada, Oriya, Telugu, Punjabi, Malayalam and Tamil.