Tag Archives: Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS)

From bar-coding rail tickets to smart metering, the CRIS is a key partner in Indian Railways’ IT journey

From bar-coding rail tickets to smart metering, electronic procurement and online crew management, Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) is a key partner in Indian Railways’ IT journey. CRIS claims its IT applications fetch Indian Railways about Rs.427 crore every day.

In an interview, CRIS managing director Sanjaya Das tells how the society formed for enabling IT-based freight operation has grown. Edited excerpts:

How has CRIS evolved in the last three decades?

In 1980s, when former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and telecom engineer Sam Pitroda were preparing a blueprint for India’s information and communication technology industry, the duo decided to keep the Indian Railways (IR) in its ambit too. Reason: IR was completely dependent on manual operations, often leading to delayed freight. So, in July 1986, a society—Centre for Railway Information Systems—was set up.

We were set up exclusively for freight information systems, but in the last three decades, CRIS has diversified to various segments like passenger reservation system, unreserved ticketing, e-ticketing system, e-procurement system, some ERP (enterprise resource planning) for production units and now into track management, locomotive management systems, wagon management systems, accounting management systems and many others.

So, from being a society, now we have become the backbone of the Indian Railways. What I can say today is that it is impossible for Indian Railways to run without the systems developed by CRIS, as we have transformed them from manual system to IT-enabled systems. Today, our IT applications fetch Indian Railways around Rs.427 crore per day, while revenue from the Internet or e-commerce gateway is just Rs.302 crore.

What is the latest technology application you’ve developed?

It’s a paperless ticket using the geofencing technology introduced on the suburban trains in metros like Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and between New Delhi and Palwal sections. It is one of the most exciting projects undertaken by us with the help of Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) and the first of its kind in the world.

Geo-fencing is a feature in a software programme that uses global positioning system (GPS) or radio frequency identification (RFID) to define geographical boundaries. It is a virtual barrier.

Under this, we surveyed tracks and marked their GIS coordinates and put them on our system. If you are on the geofencing coordinates, you cannot buy the ticket.

In this application, people who want to travel in these suburban trains can buy tickets through a mobile application without standing in queue.

Sanjaya Das, 55Sanjaya Das is the managing director of Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS). He started his career with the railways in 1981, working for its Indian Railway Traffic Service in 1981. An inclination towards technology brought him to CRIS.

For example, if you are travelling in Mumbai or Chennai, you need to be within radius of 5km of the railway station to buy the ticket; the ticket cannot be bought while you are travelling on the same train as geo-fencing doesn’t allow it.

We have used geo-fencing in this unreserved ticket because we don’t want people to buy tickets on train only when they see the TT (travelling ticket checker) on the train as it would encourage ticketless travelling, leading to loss of revenue. Need to buy ticket before boarding train and not buy when on the train.

What are the other ways in which you are helping railways to stop revenue losses?

There are scores of products that we are offering. These include bar-coded tickets, which are checked by the TT using their smartphones. Unreserved is largest that IR sells and it is 20 million and we earn Rs.50 crore and the largest number sold is unreserved. This has helped IR as many cases of fraud have been detected where people buy unreserved tickets from agents often where tickets are tampered by changing the value, adding more passengers like number of person is changed from one to four, etc.

With the bar code, tampering is impossible and you need to be a high-level crook to do this.

To expand this project across India, Indian Railways needs to replace around 15,000 dot-matrix printers with laser ones.

Similarly, there is a smart metering application developed by us where smart meters are installed at major points such as railway offices and at big power consumption centres.

In these areas, reading of meter is done automatically and you get the info about the power consumed; there is no chance of making a mistake. It helped IR to save crores of rupees and it is a UNDP funded project in Ambala and New Delhi divisions.

Rail minister Suresh Prabhu has been talking about data monetization. Do you have any idea how the ministry plans to generate revenue from it?

Data can help companies working in the field of travelling like those providing taxis and tour packages by offering these services based on our data. This is something very useful for them to target, especially passengers like those travelling in first AC, second AC.

The only thing is that we started our data warehouse two years ago only, and the information is stored for just 90 days (after which) it automatically gets deleted from our system.

Whatever IT solutions you are providing, is it developed in-house?

It’s a mix of outsourced and in-house. In some cases where we don’t have skill sets, we outsource.

We have extensive knowledge in ticketing, freight operation, tracking of trains; so, in these areas, now we have developed skill set in e-procurement. In these areas, now we have good skill sets.

Tracking of wagons through RFID (radio-frequency identification) or an ERP-based system —there we don’t have good skill sets and we would outsource it.

We have 1,200 people, out of which 600 are IT professionals, 200 domain experts and the balance office-staff.

Actually, the plus point is we are a low-cost IT solutions provider. There is something which is not realized, we don’t buy off-the-shelf packages, we don’t pay licence fee.

Do you think had CRIS been a public sector undertaking, it would have helped IR to earn revenues?

We have been approached by all the leading companies for projects in the US, the UK, to partner with them because in the railway domain and railway technology, we are way ahead of all IT companies. I cannot name the company, but can tell you that companies working on railways projects in the UK, Europe, Arabic countries and Indonesia are very much interested in partnering with us. However, we have our own constraints.

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Posted by on April 25, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Soon, tech solutions to prevent rail accidents

Railways minister Suresh Prabhu is pitching for information technology (IT) solutions to prevent freak train accidents such as the twin train mishap in August at Harda in Madhya Pradesh on account of the “sinking of rails” underneath a running passenger train.

With assistance of the Centre for Rail Information Systems (CRIS) – a railways PSU – a computerised track maintenance module has been developed and will shortly be installed across the 64,500-kilometre network of the Indian Railways, Railway Board member (engineering) VK Gupta said.

These modules will provide alerts on rail fractures and water level indications at bridges where flooding is common in monsoon months, while also indicating a measurement of rail temperatures.

On account of its “business compulsions” of keeping up the volumes of train movement on the same track, the Railways have been accused of compromising on routine safety drills such as seeking clearance of way inspectors before the movement of trains.

The public transporter has also been unable to fill up vacancies in the safety category including track inspectors and gang men, who are tasked to manually maintain the tracks.

The Railways, meanwhile, have sought cabinet clearance for four doubling/tripling projects costing about Rs 1,000 crore each. These include the 3rd and 4th line on the Budhapank-Salegaon-Rajatgarh line in the East Coast Railway zone.

Of the 24 routes identified as “super congested”, the Railways have sanctioned doubling/tripling works on 77 routes to build 9,000 kilometres of tracks at an estimated cost of Rs 90,000 crore.

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Posted by on October 17, 2015 in Uncategorized


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From Friday, buy platform tickets through your mobile

You would not have to queue up to buy a platform ticket at the New Delhi and Hazrat Nizamuddin railway stations. Platform tickets at these two major stations can now be booked through a mobile-based application to be launched by the Railways on Friday.

Apart from paperless platform tickets, other mobile app based IT initiatives to be launched on Friday include paperless season ticket on New Delhi-Palwal Section and a train enquiry app on the iOS platform. These new services would be launched by Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu. These initiatives are part of Railways mission programme of enabling rail ticket purchase through ‘Operation Five Minutes’ and in line with Digital India initiative.

The mobile application has been developed by railways own IT organization Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS).

Apart from these IT initiatives, Mr. Prabhu will also inaugurate two new escalators on platform number 16 (Ajmeri Gate Side) at the New Delhi railway station on Friday.

Earlier last month, Mr. Prabhu had launched the paperless unreserved ticketing mobile application on the New Delhi- Palwal section – UTSonMobile. Cash/Smart Card operated ticket vending machines were also inaugurated at the New Delhi railway station, along with ‘Parichaalan’ App for Freight Operation Monitoring.

The app allows passengers to access unreserved ticketing system (UTS) application through their Android or Windows smart phones. Instead of carrying a paper ticket, commuters can show the booking on their mobile screens. The Cash/Smart Card operated Ticket Vending machine (CoTVM) installed at the New Delhi railway station last month is an unmanned self-operated kiosk which can be used by passengers themselves to buy unreserved tickets through cash or smart cards. The ticket vending machines are expected to reduce queue length at existing ticket counters by providing an alternate unmanned ticketing solution and mode of payment.

‘Parichalan’ is another mobile application conceptualized and developed by CRIS to make decision making on freight operations easy and user friendly. The application represents data in a pictorial and graphical manner that is easy to comprehend and makes the information dynamic and current in nature. Instead of focusing on post-mortems, Parichalan moves operations management systems to a higher level of real time decision making, a railway official said.

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Posted by on October 9, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Coming soon: Mumbai train commuters can book a season pass on their smart phone

The idea of getting a suburban train ticket without standing in queue, at the ticket counter or the automatic ticket vending machines (ATVMs), became a reality in July when the Railways started paperless ticketing on mobile phones. But it does not appear to have enthused Mumbaikars, and so the Railways are making yet another attempt to interest them by introducing the option of buying season passes through mobile ticketing.

The Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS) — the software coding agency of the Indian Railways — has prepared the mobile ticketing system and is likely to start it from October 7. “We are ready with introducing the season passes and platform ticket options in the mobile ticket app,” confirmed Uday Bobhate, General Manager, CRIS.

According to officials, season passes are bought by nearly 65 percent of the total commuter base of 75 lakh people travelling on the suburban system. The option of skipping the queue while buying monthly, quarterly, half-yearly and yearly passes will now be available on smart phones, which might lure more people into using them.
As per process, the option will be provided on the first page after opening the UTS app. A commuter can book a season pass at least 10 days before the existing pass expires. “An option of selecting a date after the validity of the earlier season pass will also be provided,” said a railway official.

The money will be deducted from the R-wallet that will be created by the user. A separate file will be created within the UTS app where this season pass will be stored. If a ticket collector asks the commuter to present his ticket, he or she will only have to flash this ticket on their phone. The officials said that no changes could be made after booking so as to keep it tamper free.

The paperless mobile ticket option on UTSonMobile app was inaugurated in July by Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu. It works on Android and Windows phones and was initially launched for Western Railway commuters. This gave commuters the option of not taking printouts. With the season pass option coming in, mobile ticketing — for daily and season pass — will also be extended to Central Railway as well, thus helping all 75-lakh daily commuters.
Mobile ticketing a flop

Presently mobile ticketing has not been a hit with Mumbaikars. Recently GC Agarwal, General Manager of Western Railway had said, “Mobile ticketing has not picked up as expected and barely 1,000-odd tickets are sold every day”.

The figures too, show that from July to September the WR authorities have sold 30,965 paperless tickets, which have fetched them a mere R4.88 lakh. Mobile ticketing was first introduced in late December 2014 wherein people were allowed to book tickets from their cell phones, but then they had to take printouts from ATVM machines. From December onwards, the railways have sold 91,302 tickets — from mobile ticketing where printouts of these tickets were taken from ATVMs — that fetched them Rs 14.58 lakh.

Sources said that some of the possible reasons for mobile ticketing’s poor performance could be the transactional surcharge of Rs 10. This is charged to all commuters who want to recharge their e-wallet, apart from the service charge. The Railways have already written letters to the Ministry of Finance asking them to waive off this surcharge as they are running a public transport.

How to use it
1. Download and install UTS app on your smart phone
2. First-time users need to sign up
3. Select the city as Mumbai
4. Use normal/quick booking as per choice given in the app window
5. Purchase tickets using R-wallet
6. R-wallet can be recharged on http://www.utson or at any suburban ticket window (recharge can be minimum R100 and maximum R5,000)
7. Same e-wallet can be used to book the season pass and platform ticket

How mobile ticketing works
>> The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has mapped the entire route from Churchgate to Dahanu by satellite.
>> One can book a ticket on one’s mobile phone if one is 30 metres away from the outer tracks, up to a maximum of 2 kilometres.
>> A ticket booked using the app has a distinct colour code for each day and an embedded Quick Response (QR) code that cannot be forwarded to another mobile, nor edited.


M Ranade, Media person
I think the mobile ticketing scheme is a good thing as I don’t need to stand in queues. If season passes are introduced, then there is no need to worry about forgetting a pass at home and it will be convenient too.

A Tripathi, student
Mobile ticketing is very convenient, especially when I need to rush for my classes or any exams. I need not waste time standing in queue. It is surprising that people aren’t using it and railways need to advertise this scheme more.

– See more at:

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Posted by on October 3, 2015 in Uncategorized


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e-ticket portal a hit among rly passengers

The railway portal is evoking good response from passengers for booking e-tickets in a hassle-free manner across the country. Bihar is one of the leading states where a large number of people are using this portal. Railways had made this portal as an alternative portal to access Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) site to book tickets online.

According to a Railway Board official, this facility is not meant for travel agents. It is exclusively for individual users. The users are required to register themselves for using the railway site, he said. Railways has also introduced facilities like booking retiring rooms, taxi, wheelchairs and cloak room through this site in advance.

The Board official said railways introduced this portal following frequent complaints about non-availability of the IRCTC site during peak time. He said the alleged malpractices and irregularities in issuing e-tickets to people on the IRCTC portal have been completely checked to maintain transparency in e-ticket booking. According to a recent survey, the new site has been able to facilitate people access the IRCTC site, the Board official. Railways is keen to provide multiple choices to passengers to book their journey tickets in advance or just before their journey. The Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS) has been providing assistance to railways to make online ticket booking system easy and foolproof on its own portal, sources said.

Railways has, of late, banned several e-ticketing agents at the country level to check misuse of the IRCTC site. To redress passenger grievances fast, railways has launched a separate cell at the Board level to register complaints about poor quality of meals or any other complaints related to passengers’ journey, sources said.


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Posted by on August 26, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Mumbai: Railway commuters prefer ticket counters, not ATVMs

The number of Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVM) has more than doubled in the past four years on the Central Railway (CR), but there is a problem. The tickets issued through these machines have not increased proportionately.

The statistics procured from CR indicate that more than 60% (around six lakh) daily suburban commuters still buy tickets at the counter. Around 2.35 lakh daily commuters opt for ATVMs, while 1.80 lakh prefer Jan Sadharan Ticket Booking Sewak (JTBS) and 500-600 passengers choose mobile ticketing.

The ATVMs were introduced by the Railways with much fanfare to replace cheaper coupon vending machines (CVMs) that were popular with the commuters. But it seems they have failed to pick up. For suburban commuters, this means long ticketing queues still persist because ATVMs are not user-friendly. The breakup of ticket sales, according to CR data, showed the average daily ticket sales through ATVMs had increased to 2.74 lakh in April 2014-15, when the number of ATVMs was 382. However, it dropped to 1.46 lakh in July last year.

Railway authorities attributed this reduction to the sudden withdrawal of facilitators, following the railway board order. “The ATVMs are very confusing because of the 7-8 steps involved. Therefore, we had proposed hot-key ATVMs to the railway board and Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS), which will involve only three steps. But so far we have not received any response,” said a senior CR official.

Each ATVM is worth Rs1.25lakh. This means more than Rs 8.27crore of the taxpayers’ money is spent to procure 662 ATVMs, but they have failed to serve the purpose. Whereas, the proposed ATVMs by CR will cost only Rs 75,000, the prototype of which is also ready.

The number of ATVMs available on the suburban section is 662, of which 280 were installed in the past four months. Still, the number of daily average tickets sold is 2.35 lakh. Uday Bobhate, general manager, Centre for Railway Information System, said, “The demand to develop any new IT module has to come from the railway board. We have not received any such demand from the board.”

Hindustan Times

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Posted by on August 13, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Indian Railways scheme: Book unreserved tickets via mobile app on Delhi-Palwal route

Indian Railways commuters travelling between New Delhi and Palwal in Haryana can now buy unreserved tickets using their mobile phones by just downloading an App.

This initiative, which will become operational from next month, is a part of efforts to make unreserved tickets paperless and save the commuters from the trouble of standing in queues to buy an unreserved tickets.

Under the initiative, a commuter using Android or Windows smartphone can access the Unreserved Ticketing system (UTS) application.
With the ticket booked through the UTS application, a commuter can travel ticketless to any desired destination on the 52-km Delhi-Palwal section. The commuter just has to show the booking details on the mobile, a railway official said.

The ticket can be purchased using debit or credit card.
There are about 15 stations between Delhi and Palwal including Nizamuddin, Tughalakabad, Faridabad and Ballabgarh which will be all covered under the paperless ticketing system for local travellors, the official added.

Developed by Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) on mobile the paperless unreserved ticketing feature in mobile application aims to eliminate the need for printing of unreserved tickets.

The App, which is for both Android and Windows platforms, can be downloaded from Google Play Store or Windows Store and used by the user.

The application provides necessary on-screen alerts to guide the passenger during the booking process.
However, ticket windows will also be made available for passengers despite the operation of paperless mobile ticket system in the suburban section.

Such an initiative is already being tried on Egmore-Tambram suburban section in Chennai and Churchgate-Dahanu section in Mumbai and Delhi-Palwal will be the first in the north zone.

It was a budget proposal to provide paperless tickets in unreserved segment and we have to implement it in all suburban sections across the country, the official said.


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Posted by on July 29, 2015 in Uncategorized


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