Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS) has launched a free app on Android called NTES (National Train Enquiry System) which gives information about train and platform schedules, apart from the ability to ‘spot your train’ and ‘live station’, as well as information on trains that are running late or have been diverted to other stations. CRIS is an organisation under the Railway Ministry that handles its IT requirements.

NTES features compared with the IRCTC app

NTES (National Train Enquiry Service) is a system that provides information about train schedules on its website, nationwide train enquiry number 139*, touch screens, counter enquiry and display boards near railway stations.

The “spot your train” feature in the app allows passengers and their families identify the current location of a running train, and expected time of departure and arrival of a train. The ‘Live Station’ option provides information about all the trains that are expected to arrive/depart from any given station, in the coming 2 to 4 hours.

This app is similar to the IRCTC app launched by BRS, though there are a few differences: features available in the IRCTC app, such as PNR status inquiry, ticket rates, seat availability inquiry, are missing in the NTES app. The IRCTC app also allows users to book seats by connecting to the IRCTC website which the NTES doesn’t. In comparison, the IRCTC app does have status information for trains, but not live station information.

The NTES app is unstable, crashes quickly, and uses up a lot of battery. The interface is easy but the inquires throw voids and blanks at times, especially while using the ‘spot your train’ feature. Fetching data also takes a lot of time, despite us checking the app on 3G network.

What’s the point?

Why is CRIS launching its own app when IRCTC has its own? Why is the government wasting resources with multiple products that provide the same service? Lest we forget, CRIS had earlier launching its own online ticketing system (which crashed on the first day), to compete with IRCTC’s (then clunky) ticketing system.

Bring back Rail Radar

When it comes to providing live train tracking information, nothing quite comes close to Rail Radar, which Indian Railways had shut down last year. Neither app – from IRCTC or CRIS – provide live train tracking on a map. Rail Yatri later re-launched Rail Radar at railradar.railyarti.in, and it now offers live tracker of relevant incidents and events, but not live information.

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