Railway Minister, Mukul Roy has sanctioned a new project worth Rs 55 crore to upgrade the Railways e-booking system, in the face of increased demand for e-booking, and problems of inaccessibility and slow systems, reports The Times of India. This announcement was made by the minister in reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha. The minister claimed that this project will allow bookings of up to one million e-tickets every day.

That being said, we are not quite sure if the railway minister has allotted this fund to improve IRCTC’s e-booking facility or the new railway ticketing portal Indianrailways.gov.in from Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS), announced in last year’s railway budget. It should however be noted that only 45% of railways ticketing happens through IRCTC, and the e-ticketing facility at Indianrailways.gov.in was disabled last July. The portal currently redirects users who intend to do e-ticketing to IRCTC website.

Other Developments

In March 2012, K. H. Muniyappa, the Minister of State for Railways, had informed the Parliament of India, that they were planning to provide Internet facility in three rakes (group of coaches or wagons) of Howrah Rajdhani Express on a pilot basis. The minister had then stated that the facility would work on a satellite based system and the Internet connection will be shared across railway coaches through Wi-Fi. Last week, Indian Railways had received clearance from Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) for using KU band frequency from the satellite to provide Internet service. The service was estimated to cost Rs 6.30 crore for the Railway department and is expected to be rolled out by September 25, 2012.

Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS), the IT arm of Indian Railways had also partnered with ISRO to develop GPS-based devices for trains, which will provide real-time train tracking with an accuracy of 10 metres and latency of 2 mins. Interestingly, CRIS had also apparently integrated the GPS app into Google Maps, allowing passengers to view their current location on Google Maps in real time. CRIS had informed that these devices will be initially fitted in 100 trains, and that the railways intends to install these GPS device into all trains by the end of 2013. Indian Railways also has a similar project called Satellite Imaging for Rail Navigation (SIMRAN), which 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.