New mobile app to track train schedules on a real-time basis

Jan 31, 2014, 07:50 IST | Shashank Rao

Railway officials claim a new mobile app will allow commuters to track train time, expected arrival time, platform number and the following train; app likely to be launched in six months

Joining the bandwagon of enterprises launching user-friendly applications or apps for mobile phones, the Indian Railways has decide to launch an app that will help commuters track train schedules on a real-time basis.

“This application will allow commuters to track their train even as it is approaching the railway station. It would show the train time, expected arrival time, platform number and the following train. The app is likely to be launched for public use in the next six months,” said a senior railway official.

Apart from keeping a tab on train schedules, commuters can purchase local train tickets using this app. Once a person is near a railway station, he or she can type the code of the station they are headed for. The commuter will immediately receive a message or an e-ticket, once the payment is made through internet banking.

The authorities said they were working on a solution to prevent the message or e-ticket from being copied or forwarded. They were also trying to figure out ways to ensure that the phone does not switch hands after booking tickets.

The glitches
Officials said sending a message or an e-ticket to the commuter was only 10 per cent of the entire mobile ticketing process. The message would be displayed on their reader after a commuter types the code on his cell phone. The major grind lies in establishing support systems for the project, wherein software and other IT systems need to be robust, or else the system would collapse.

Also, there are issues while coding railway stations to suit the software to identify specific stations, detailing modes of payments and transactions with various national and multinational banks, and verification
of e-tickets produced by commuters.

While more than 2 lakh people book tickets on the IRCTC website every day, the daily sale of tickets at windows is close to 9 lakh. Railway officials also need to ensure that competent devices are given to Travelling Ticket Examiners (TTEs) to authenticate e-tickets to prevent fraud.

How the app will work
>> A commuter will be directed to the website of the Indian Railways once he activates the app on his or her cell phone 
>> Once on the page, it will ask the commuter for the desired destination 
>> Upon typing the station code, the entire train schedule will be displayed, including delay in services, if any, and the platform number where the train will halt

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