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Soon, passengers can track trains in real time with GPS

It will be available first on the Delhi-Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai routes by February-end, and cover the entire country in phases later.

india Updated: Nov 30, 2017 14:40 IST
Jeevan Prakash Sharma
Jeevan Prakash Sharma
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Indian Railways,Train timing,Train punctuality
The new system will be called real-time punctuality monitoring and analysis (RPMA).(AFP File Photo)

A GPS-enabled device fitted in locomotives will let passengers track their trains on a real-time basis in a move to overhaul the railways’ slower manual system and provide accurate train timings.

Railway minister Piyush Goyal has asked all 16 railway zones in India to adopt the new system, called real-time punctuality monitoring and analysis (RPMA), to ensure punctuality and safety.

It will be available first on the Delhi-Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai routes by February-end, and cover the entire country in phases later. The existing national train enquiry system (NTES) is based on manual entry data by train controllers. “If a train passes, let’s say Ghaziabad at 8.30am, the station master informs the controller who makes an entry into the system and this gets reflected in the NTES,” a railway source said.

The new device was tested in the Mughalsarai division in October in collaboration with MapmyIndia, a private entity. The experiment is said to be successful.

“The system keeps plotting the train on the map and on the speed chart. The station locations are pre-fed and plotted on the map and the speed chart in addition to the cautions,” Mughalsarai divisional railway manager Kishor Kumar explained. He said the speed chart lets officials know if a train is running at the maximum permissible speed, excess controlling by the driver at cautions, late start, extra stoppage, and signal checks.

The pilot project in Mughalsarai provided crucial information such as trains didn’t run on the maximum permissible speed, drivers exercised excessive controls at cautions, late start and extra stoppage of trains, and a speedometer error as well. A train ran at 120kmph, but the speedometer showed 110kmph.

The entire range of digital information could go a long way in modernising the country’s largest public transporter and the world’s fourth-largest rail network that has 12,000 passenger trains and 7,000-odd stations, and carries 23 million passengers each day — the equivalent of Australia’s population.

According to Railway sources, the manually driven NTES data were not accurate.

“If a train starts late by half an hour, the station master might not inform the controller about the delay. Officials tend to overlook delays to show a good punctuality record,” one of the sources said. The new system allows the railways assess drivers and guards, and rate them on a scale of one to 10, depending on their real-time performance. “Five drivers scored nine and were rewarded with ~5,000 each (during the test run),” Kumar said.

(Story has been updated to correct the name of the company from Map of India to MapmyIndia)

First Published: Nov 30, 2017 07:41 IST