The Centre for Railway Information Service (CRIS) unveiled RailRadar, a web application that provides the location of a train on a map (Google Maps) and visualizes the running-train network, live, at MediaNama’s #NAMA conference.The RailRadar service has been jointly developed by CRIS and RailYatri team (Stelling Technologies), and can be accessed at railradar.trainenquiry.com. The app offers data for 6,500 passenger trains of the Indian Railways, out of 10,000 trains that operate. The service is also available on mobile phones through the phone’s internet browser.
Responding to questions at the #NAMA conference, Sunil Bajpai, Group General Manager at CRIS, informed that the CRIS does have APIs for the service but it does not intend to open them to developers in the near term, although it might do so in the future. On accessibility, he mentioned that the service was also accessible on mobile and out of the 2 lakh hits that the service garnered since its launch 20% of the traffic was mobile. He also said that web was replacing SMS as the preferred medium of railway enquiries.
Features & Interface: RailRadar offers a friendly interface, and users can get graphical information via an interactive map, zooming in and zooming out to get station and train detail. The app allows users to search for a particular station or train, to get specific details of trains around the station or running status of a train, its location, route and stoppages. RailRadar also gives an overview on the train’s on-time and delay status via a link to trainenquiry.com. In case of a mishap/unplanned activity, RailRadar would also be able to provide users with an overview of situation and train status across the country.
At the moment, RailRadar is configured to update/refresh itself every 5 mins, although the site informs that the updates of the individual trains may vary based on the area where it is currently running and the location and status of the trains displayed on RailRadar will always be 5 or more minutes delayed, for security and regulatory reasons.
Trains currently running on time are indicated by blue coloured arrows, while trains running late are depicted by red coloured arrows. Interestingly, arrows point towards the direction of the train. Clicking on the respective arrow symbol opens an info box with the name of the train, last update, next halt, and last status. Users can check the latest status through a link in the box as well as locate the train’s stops on the map and mark the train as favourite for easy access at a later time.
How is data collected: According to RailRadar, Indian Railways has train passing monitoring points around the country at more than 6,000 locations, which communicate updates on train arrival, departure, or passing to a central headquarter server in real time. Although, in most cases these updates are automated, there are places/situations where this reporting is also done manually.