Indian Railways has partnered with IIT-Kanpur to introduce a real-time train tracking system for mobile users, reports Business Standard. The technology enables a mobile user to access information about the exact location of a train. To avail the service, one has to send an SMS to 09415139139 or 09664139139 with the train number in the message box for knowing the exact location of a train on real-time basis, according to the report. Indian Railways’ technology arm CRIS, is expected to sign an MoU with IIT-Kanpur for executing the project.

We found it strange that the Indian Railways has introduced the service with a longhand number instead of a shorthand number as it is easier for passengers to remember short codes. The service is currently available on 36  premier trains including Mumbai Rajdhani, Howrah Rajdhani, Dibrugarh Rajdhani, Sealdah Duronto and Shatabdi trains for Bhopal, Kanpur and Amritsar. Indian Railways expects to extend this facility to all major trains in the next 18 months. The report also states that  the trial run for the pilot project has been concluded and that the center, which will receive data from across the country, will be located at Delhi.

Indian Railways had 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. It looks like the end-user implementation will be carried out with IIT-Kanpur’s assistance.  In an RTI filed by MediaNama, CRIS informed that the Real-time Train Information System project (RTIS) has been sanctioned across the Indian Railways at a cost of Rs 123.69 Crore. As previously reported, the GPS devices in each train would vary from Rs. 70,000 to Rs. 1,00,000. Indian Railways also plans to integrate the GPS app into Google Maps, allowing passengers to view their current location on Google Maps, in real time.

Technology

For the project, the RTIS system will utilize GPS technology for automatic capture of train running information (Position/Speed/ Direction). For this, ISRO’s S-Band Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) on INSAT-3C and GPRS shall be utilized. MSS is a one way satellite based messaging service available through INSAT, which provides a reporting channel via a satellite to a group of people who need to send short text messages or short data to a central station. The service offers one-way message reporting and is restricted to Indian territory. All the information will be collected to a data-center/server in Delhi.

Track Trains elsewhere

Apart from tracking train location on mobile via SMS, Indian Railways also launched a train tracking system on the web — Trainenquiry.com in partnership with RailYatri.in. Apart from that, 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 project was made available to public on trial basis in October 2011 on select trains. Users could track train location either via their web portal simran.in or SMS.