How does Indian Railways use Data Analytics?


The 8th largest employer in the world, the Indian Railways, employs more than 1.4 million people. Do you think it has started losing its special place in the Indian transport space? Apart from the sharp drop in airfares and better road connectivity, the inability of the Indian railways to monetize its structure using the available data has made it loose its shine.

Former Railway Minister Mr. Suresh Prabhu had emphasized on the digitization of the Indian Railways. Given its mammoth size, digitization of Indian railways seems an impossible task, until Big Data Analytics is used. According to ‘The Indian Railways serves more than 23 million passengers over a route of 66,000 km, passing through more than 7,100 railways stations’. Can you even imagine the size of data generated by this mammoth system? It is one of the largest in the world!

How can Analytics help?

Given the huge amount of data produced, only human intervention is not enough. Big Data Analytics is the only way to crunch out the useless data and provide a better insight for better service and better profitability.

Lets have a look at the role of Big Data Analytics in railways:-

Railway management and Disaster Management

Big Data Analytics is helping Indian railways in determining routes, service price, freight management, safety measures and maintenance.  Apart from this it has been found useful during calamities and disasters. Given the huge number of passengers travelling through railways every day, and the many classifications of data for each service, proper utilisation of data isn’t an easy task. The use of Big Data tools has not only increased the speed but also the efficiency of Indian railways.

Moreover using analytical tools and IoT a proper disaster avoiding framework can be developed such that a real time scenario can be analyzed and disasters can be avoided.

IRCTC Ticketing management and better service

Most of us would be acquainted with the e-ticketing portal ‘IRCTC’ of the Indian Railways. Earlier the site would get paralyzed as soon as the clock ticked 10. But that’s not the case now. IRCTC which books 13 lakh tickets per day at an average, has not only improved its speed but also the way it serves its customers. These improvements have been possible because of the use of Big Data Analytics. Determining the frequent travellers, same train travellers, long route travellers and more using analytics has helped Indian Railways serve better.

E-catering and Service

Considering the huge number of long distance passengers that Indian railways serve each day, catering food is an important part. But to serve better the choice of food must change w.r.t area. Moreover the cost of food is also a matter of importance. Big Data Analytics can be used to cater food at reasonable rates at the same time making it profitable for the catering department. Analytics can also be used to expel out the unnecessary cost that has been a concern for the catering department of Indian railways. Moreover it can help in better servicing at relevant locations when the train gets delayed.

Smart and Profitable Railways

It has been after long wait that implication of Big Data Analytics by the former Railway Minister Mr. Suresh Prabhu that the Indian railways performed much better than the past few years. Well the success of Big Data Analytics isn’t just limited to this. Big Data Analytics combined with Machine Learning, Cloud Computing and Internet of Things is the next step to smart railways by the Indian Railways. The use of predictive and logistic modelling will not only help the loss making Indian Railways turn profitable but the use of smart Big data Analytics based technologies will help the Indian railways regain its royal Midas touch.

Big Data Analytics has been a gift in disguise for the Indian railways.

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