Train-tracking has become easier than ever before with all trains, except those running on the Mumbai suburban network, being covered live by the web-based trainenquiry.com service of the Indian Railways. It has now taken on a new map-based dimension with the addition of railradar.trainenquiry.com.
At any point in time, information can be had online or via SMS about the location and schedule of the 9,700-odd trains that run a given week. And what is more fascinating is that the location of any train, except those in the Konkan railway belt, can now be seen on a map anytime — represented by a colour-coded arrow that indicates whether a train is running on time or late.
Though the enquiry service has been working for some years and providing information on select trains, it has become comprehensive in its new avatar launched last April. A mobile version was released in May; and just a few weeks ago came the map-based RailRadar add-on.
The site had witnessed no less than a crore visitors in the few months it was launched. And every day, on an average, more than 3.5 lakh users flocked to the trainenquiry.com and RailRadar websites, 20 per cent of whom used mobile devices to get information, said Manish Rathi, co-founder of Railyatri, which is involved in the operation of the site set up by the Centre For Railway Information Systems.
The appeal of the trainenquiry.com service lies in the ease of use. By entering some details in a search box — a train’s name or number or the names of stations — the user is presented with a list that can be narrowed down to a specific option.
By clicking on the train name displayed, the user can know where it is — whether it has halted at a station or is approaching one, the timings, the other stations en-route, the distances, and so on. Also the stations it has passed through and when, and the distance already traversed. It also tells us whether a train is running on schedule or is late at a point in time. (For getting the information via SMS, type SPOT (train number) and send the message to 139).
With RailRadar, passengers can now spot trains on a map by clicking on the blue (on time), yellow (delayed) or red (delayed by more than 15 minutes) arrows that represent individual trains, and know where it is at the moment. By clicking further, one can find out when it will arrive at different stations ahead of it and the time it passed the last few stations en route. In a nutshell, almost real-time (time lags of a few minutes are part of the system though) schedules of a train can be had by clicking on a map.
“Response to RailRadar has been tremendous — not just in India but worldwide. In the first week of its launch, RailRadar was noted as the top talked about map-based application across the world. While there are few additional countries where railways are tracked on a map, reviewers of this site have acknowledged that this has to be the biggest one just based on its sheer size and complexity,” Mr. Rathi said.