The Indian railway network is vast and complex. While the CIA factbook ranks it the 4th largest in the world, it is the second largest under a single management. Some statistics shared after the railway budget of 2011 put the network's national importance in perspective:
- 64,099 route km
- 18.9 million passengers
- 7,000 trains daily from 6,906 stations.
- 4,000 freight trains carrying 850 million tonnes of cargo
The government of India today shared information about a useful project being worked on by the Research Designs and Standards Organization (RDSO) in Lucknow, India and IIT Kanpur. The project provides real-time information about long distance trains. The two organizations developed a GPS based train tracking system that presents information on Simran.in. The pilot of the system tracks 12 trains. Probably not the most beautiful website design but for 12 trains, it works. From the website, the following can be seen:
- Speed of the train (the row colors depend on the speed. Pretty cool!)
- The next stop
- Train status (the legend has 7 options)
- When the last data was received and the nearest station
Simran is a huge improvement over the current system that requires someone to manually update the train information and those seeking information end up losing some hair interacting with the website. The project looks promising.