Train Ticket to Tomorrow

Anand Parthasarathy


This year marks a historic milestone for Indian Railways. It was 170 years ago, on 16 April 1853 that the fledgling Great Indian Peninsular Railway launched its first passenger service: a 14-carriage train carrying 400 people, over a distance of 34 kilometres from BoriBunder in what was then Bombay, to the town of Thane.

On 15 August 1954, the railways came to Eastern India, with a train connecting Howrah to Hooghly, 39 km away. And on 1 July 1856, South India saw its first train connect Royapuram in the then Madras city to Wallajah Road, 90 km away.  The railway map of India was slowly taking shape.

Today, India’s rail network is the fourth largest in the world with tracks totalling 1,23,236 km making for a route length of 67,956 km, 80% of them electrified; 7325 stations, annually serving over 808 crores (8.08 billion) passengers and transporting 1418 million tonnes of freight, every year. (India 2022, A Reference Annual; Publications Division).

Sustained demand has necessitated a massive makeover of the train system in recent years. This has unleashed India’s inherent resources of creativity and innovation.

Today the railway ecosystem is one of the best examples of the twin mantras of ‘Make in India’ and ‘Make for the world’.Where the system once struggled to meet domestic goals, it is now a respected source of transportation solutions for many nations.  And the key to this transformation has been a slate of technologies — contemporary as well as futuristic — that today define Indian Railways.


Innovations in the Past

Some technology-driven developments in the past were landmark achievements in passenger convenience. Perhaps most appreciated by passengers was CONCERT, the Country-wide Network of Computerised Enhanced Reservation and Ticketing, that was created for the Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) by a team at the Computer Maintenance Corporation (CMC) in the early 1980s.  By 1986, passengers in New Delhi for the first time could visit the station to reserve or cancel seats or berths on any train from any station to any station. The network was enlarged progressively till it covered all major railway junctions in India, issuing 1.6 million tickets every day…read more on NOPR