Did you ever get stuck in a situation when you were on time to board the train but you hear the announcement that ”Your train is running late, sorry for the inconvenience”? It’s a very frustrating and uncomfortable situation if you find that a particular train is running late and you had no way to know this beforehand. Wouldn’t it be better if you had a way to know that your train is running behind schedule so that you can rearrange your timing in a more efficient way? Now, it will also be possible with RTIS, one of the most ambitious and expensive rail projects ever by the Indian Railways. Real-time Train Information System or RTIS allows passengers to get the real time location or train running status of a train on their smartphone.
What is RTIS?
To enhance the security and comfort of train journeys, Indian Railways has partnered with ISRO, the space organization of India. The project is termed as Real-time Train Information System (RTIS) and currently it is executed by Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS). ISRO has launched GSAT satellites that have GAGAN payloads for tracking the movement of trains and relaying that information down to the Central Location Server (CLS) of CRIS. The information that the satellite sends is almost real time and very accurate. The same information is passed on using enterprise service BUS in CRIS’ data center to the National Train Enquiry System (NTES). From there on, NTES feeds that information to all the public information dissemination systems be it websites, mobile apps, the 139 railway helpline number, or any other medium.
The most helpful feature of this system is that the information from satellites goes automatically to all those systems which fetch data from NTES. Thus, passengers or railway customers also are now able to get accurate train running information in real time. In December 2016, MoU was signed between CRIS and Space Applications Centre (SAC), ISRO for this project. It is not a future thing, in fact the trials for this system using GSAT series satellite have been done successfully during July-September, 2017 on New Delhi-Guwahati (NDLS-GHY) and New Delhi-Mumbai (NDLS-BCT) Rajdhani routes jointly by CRIS and SAC.
Why Real-time Train Information is Needed?
Do you know the fact that Indian Railways has about 5500 electric locomotives, 6500 diesel locomotives and 3000 EMU/ MEMU /DMUs? About 600 locomotives are added every year. Handling such a large scale of train data manually is not only complex but also highly inefficient. Thus, automatic data acquisition for train movement is a key requirement for improving the operational efficiency and quality of passenger information. This requirement gained greater significance on all Indian Railways divisions following the introduction of ICT-based Control Office Application (COA).
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Benefits of Real-time Train Information System (RTIS)
Indian Railways is the backbone of the transportation system in India. So, it becomes very necessary to enhance the facilities and provide passengers with correct train information. That’s when the Real-time Train Information System (RTIS) comes into play. From keeping customers updated about timely train arrivals to improving overall quality and efficiency, here are the key benefits of introducing RTIS in the rail industry.
- Improve the overall satisfaction of passengers
Train helpline number 139 receives a lot of complaints which are mainly related to train delays. By providing real-time arrival and departure information of trains, the expected and actual waiting times for passengers can decrease significantly. If a commuter can see a train running behind schedule, they can more easily rearrange their time.
- Increase service usage
RTIS can make the journey more comfortable and seamless for passengers. So, the total train ridership will increase significantly resulting in more revenue for Indian Railways.
- Stress free work for train controllers
Currently, train controllers are almost always busy handling and maintaining data of all the trains. After the introduction of RTIS, they can focus on controlling and managing train routes in a better and efficient way. That will increase the punctuality of all the trains.
- Optimum utilization of resources
RTIS allows the Indian Railways to determine the real-world version of train schedule, thus enabling them make instant adjustments and publish more accurate passenger service information. So, the resources are fully and efficiently utilized.
- Enables the train information to be accessed through a web or mobile service provider
Now you don’t need a computer system to see the live running status or train running status. RTIS makes it possible to see the current location of any train in real time. So, if you are looking for the answer to “Where is my Train?”, then Indian railways has given you the answer with the help of RTIS.
- Richer MIS for management
Since the complete work of train data handling is automated with the help of RTIS, it gives ample time and resources for train authorities and management to focus on other important railway management tasks such as decision-making, coordination, control, analysis, and visualization for future rail plans.
How does the Real-time Train Information System Work?
You can easily understand the principle behind the working of RTIS through these following points:
- In train loco, a device application software will determine train movement events i.e. Arrival, Departure, Run-through stations, etc. based on predefined logic applied to spatial coordinates. The train speed is received continuously from the GAGAN receiver.
- These events shall be communicated to the Central Location Server (CLS) of CRIS using S-MSS as well as 4G/3G mobile data service, along with position / location updates.
- For automatic plotting of control charts, the CLS processes the received data and relays it to the Control Office Application (COA).
- As COA is already integrated with the National Train Enquiry System (NTES), it will automatically allow accurate real-time passenger information as a by-product. So passengers are able to get precise train location through NTES app download.
You can understand the complete working of RTIS through the following flowchart.
LMCS software is used to monitor the loco device’s health, control its configuration and upgrade the software / firmware in the loco device. Emergency messaging between the Loco driver and the control office is also carried out via RTIS. There have been several successful trial runs, and the RTIS system is now to be rolled out on Indian Railways. Centre for Railway Information Systems expects to complete the project in subsequent phases.
RTIS Project Timeline
Under RTIS initiative, GPS devices were already mounted in 4,200 trains. By the end of this financial year, more such equipment will be installed in the remaining 8,000 locomotives to know the real-time position of the trains. Indian Railways aims to install GPS in all the trains under RTIS project by the end of March 2020. See the following timeline chart to understand how much progress has been made in the RTIS project.