Key Digital Initiatives Of Railway Budget 2016

by Sohini Bagchi    Feb 25, 2016


Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu presented the Railway Budget 2016-17 in Lok Sabha today. “Co-operation, collaboration and communication, are the hallmarks of Indian Railway’s journey forward,” Prabhu said, while presenting the budget.

According to him, the key objective of Indian Railways to become an engine of economic growth and create employment and provide customer service.

The budget highlights a number of tech-focused, digital initiatives that will be taken up by the Indian Railways. Some of these include:

· Ministry will roll out 400 railway stations with Wi-Fi, 100 this year, says Suresh Prabhu “We intend to commence Wi-Fi system at 100 stations this year in partnership with Google,” he said.

·  Sale of tickets to be initiated by hand held devices and platform tickets through vending machines, said Prabhu. He said, “We have already introduced 1,780 ticket-vending machines.”

·  Employee feedback mechanism will be strengthened. Prabhu said, more than 1 lakh telephone calls are made every day to seek inputs from passengers.

· IRCTC website will consider e-commerce initiatives because of high number of hits

· Indian Railways will to shift to paperless contact management system as e-initiative, said Prabhu.

· The minister said government will include e-ticket facility for foreign debit and credit card holders. Journalists will also get facility of e-booking of tickets on concessional passes.

· Prabhu said the government will work towards installing GPS-based digital display in coaches for showing upcoming stations.

· For security reasons, the government plans to install CCTV network has been provided at 311 railway stations.

·  The railways ministry has ensured a capacity of e-ticketing system from 2000 tickets/min to 7,200/min. “We are planning to introduce bar-coded tickets on pilot basis to tackle menace of ticketless travel,” said Prabhu.

·  The Rail Minister further said social media has been used to bring in transparency and will be used effectively in the coming months.

· For railway recruitment, the government is introducing online techniques to bring 100 percent transparency.

· Prabhu said the ministry will soon open cancellation facility through 139 helpline number.

· Of the other initiatives, Railways will extend e-catering to all rail stations and the authority will facilitate the cleaning of toilets by requests through SMS.

· With advanced technology, the ministry will revamp itsinternal audit system with view to bringing in efficiency in working practices.

“We hope to generate revenues of order of Rs.1,84,820 cr next year, 10.1% higher than revised target of current year,” said Prabhu.

Analyzing the budget, M.N.Vidyashankar, President, India Electronics & Semiconductor Association said, “With this budget, Indian Railways has taken a step further towards Smarter Transportation. We are immensely pleased about the Ministry of Railways’ intent to ​make travelling ​more commuter friendly. We are clearly inching towards a technology-driven Rail​ dispensation.”

“GPS-based digital display in coaches and the introduction of bar-coded tickets not only bring more transparency  but will also enhance security ​and comfort ​for the ​travelling public.​The scheme of ​wi-fi installations in 500 railway stations by next year, w​ill ​witness a further ​reduce ​the Country’s  digital gap. ​T​he technology infrastructure ​has to be upgraded, keeping in view the ​growth in passenger-cargo traffic, with a 20-year perspective,” he explained.

Vidyashankar believes that the semiconductor companies will have a ​significant role to play  to enable the FM radio stations to work effectively in the running trains. Overall,  a good Railway Budget for the ​players in the tech space and we believe, that  IT and ESDM landscape will continue to contribute to the development of Indian Railways.

Nasscom too has welcomed the technology focused initiatives that were announced as a part of Suresh Prabhu’s Railway Budget 2016. “We are glad to note that the government is walking the talk on IT integration and deployment of e-services, to achieve the dream of Digital India. Aimed at showcasing a positive future for railways in India; the inclusion of GPS based digital displays in coaches, and the setting up Wi-Fi internet in 100 station this year, are initiatives that will not only streamline services in the railways, but also benefit customers across the board,” said a senior Nasscom official in a statement.  

“The minister has also announced the utilization of drones for remote monitoring of on-going projects, which is an imperative to ensure timely completion of projects. “With the railways, ready to take the next leap in setting high speed rail networks, these announcements are testimony to the centre’s commitment towards the upgradation of services; giving the transportation lifeline of India its due,” said Nasscom.