Indian Railways to Increase Efficiency

by Sonal Desai    Apr 30, 2007

The Indian Railways (IR) has embarked on a major automation drive.

It is planning to develop and implement a Timetable Management System (TMS) for the same.

The project is to be completed in two phases over 24 months. The first phase will cover the Delhi-Mumbai route, and the next phase will cover the entire IR network.

Key functions to be covered in the project are train schedule management to develop schedules with minimal entry; platform assignment management to allow users assign specific platform at a specific station depending on occupancy; train conflict analysis and verification to be shown graphically and in tabular format; rake assignment for maintenance management plan and facilities; time distance display; reports, publishing and graphical outputs.

The process will enable controllers to collaborate and utilize tools to simulate and visualize scenarios while developing a timetable.

Data will be stored in a central database comprising a model of railway networks. The application will enable sharing of information among timetable controllers, their managers and users. The database will also take decentralized data, and the interface will be browser based with certain graphical features for power users.

Any new train passes through several zones. The application will enable each controller to introduce trains from his place of work and collaborate with his counterparts to fine-tune schedules. Master information such as details of sections, terminals, maintenance, facilities, etc will be entered from the workplace of the concerned user.

Users will be able to view the timetable in formats such as master charts/string diagrams, occupation charts for platforms and maintenance facilities, grids and reports, etc. Rake links will be depicted in the standard graphical format.

Applications will simulate the path of a proposed train (when a new service is to be introduced) through speed restrictions, maintenance blocks and sectional timings. Conflicts with existing train paths will be highlighted to allow the controller manually adjust paths through graphical interface. An alternate could be an automatic attempt at conflict resolution by shifting existing train paths to accommodate the new train. This will enable the controller do a what-if analysis for introducing new services.

Data entered into one application will be updated into other applications. For example, the timetable displayed in TMS will be updated in the National Train Enquiry System (NTES), and the punctuality module of the Integrated Coaching Management System (ICMS). More than 200 users will update master data into the system from over 100 locations.

The tender focuses on the need of storage and maintenance of historical data. At present, the data is stored in paper files and is almost impossible to search and retrieve.

The vendor will also draft small term timetables for special services during festivals and holidays. The system will cover the entire gamut of IR, and the IT equipment will have to be installed across zones in India.

The system will be robust to interface with applications such as passenger reservation system (PRS) for departure, arrival timings, halts, etc, unreserved ticketing system for halts, ICMS, NTES, control office application (COA) for train schedule and crew management system (CMS) for train schedule.

It will be able to cope with 7,000 trains, 7,000 stations, 1,100 yards, 70 divisional control offices and 16 zonal control offices. It would be able to give a response of about two seconds for data entry screens and provide graphical outputs within two minutes.

The vendor will train users to handle applications independently.