Indian Railways - Can Analytics Be The Way Forward To Transform Its Landscape?

Posted in Operations & IT Articles, Total Reads: 2124 , Published on 04 November 2014
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In modern era “Analytics” is the new buzzword for the enterprises across globe having wide range of applications in different industries. Infact as Craig Mundie said “data are turning into new raw material for businesses” which allows organisations to address & foresee key challenges with various aspects of their operations and identify the needs of their customers so as to understand them better & offer them customer delight at the same time.


Since the industries are transforming into intelligent economies where various from of analytics and its tools are becoming increasingly important resulting in decreasing dependence on experience and intuition for decision making by the business managers. The demand to react sooner and with pronounced understanding of ongoing internal and external occurrences supported by facts is increasing. Thus the judicious and smart utilization of these techniques by the enterprises is the need of the hour as it has got the potential to change the face of enterprises by providing the capacity to analyse & act upon so as to create competitive advantage in business transactions by enabling sustainable management of the organizations.



The potential of the analytics have drawn the attention of numerous commercial organisations in India where many enterprises are pursuing it successfully & observed its positive implications as well. However in India the government and public sector organisations have yet to explore the full potential of “Analytics”. One such organisation is Indian railways.


Indian railways being the biggest network in Asia carrying about 23 million travellers daily across 6000 stations approximately and 1050.18 million tonnes of freight in year 2013-14 having rolling stock approximately 239281 freight wagons, 62924 passenger coaches & 9013 locomotives can use analytics and tools to its huge advantage and generating more revenues by improving the consumer satisfaction. With expanded utilization of sensors, imaging frameworks, other developing systems in rail transport, railway infrastructure testing, checking and control are enabling gigantic measure of data and information to be produced at exceptional scales. Information produced in such volumes make it exceptionally hard to make suitable determinations. Hence use of several advance analytical techniques and tools ranging from descriptive analytics to predictive analytics by Indian railways can come in handy for accurate modelling, clustering, and standardisation of information, configuration, integrating data of different sources of railways, revealing concealed patterns, correlation and interpretation.


The railways can utilize analytics and information it has in myriad ways. The multi dimensional analysis of the data collected by railways at the time of reservations from its passengers like their name, age, sex, berth preferences, food habits can be transformed into useful information which later can be utilised in numerous useful ways so as to predict & understand its consumers behaviour, providing them customised travelling options and at the same time giving them promotional offers based on the past trend of their purchasing to provide them comfortable and memorable travelling experience. Moreover it will allow railways to have 360 degree view of its customer data which will allow railways to provide it passengers more focused service.


Railways can also help the customers who needed to settle on a choice on whether they ought to proceed with their booking for excursion or discover alternate modes of travel in case their reservations are not confirmed by developing an analytical application which by using the past history of last prepared reservation time-table, charts for that day of the past week/month/year and the availability of aggregate seats can predict the chance or probability of confirming a seat or a berth providing them direction when they need to book a ticket.


Moreover Indian rail transport can utilize various types analytical techniques like descriptive, diagnostics and predictive analysis by employing technology based on these techniques to improve its operational efficiency by developing systems that analyses past and present data related to accidents, operational activities etc so as to develop efficient predictive assets management & accident prevention systems. This allows them to have maintenance activity of their assets like bogies, ac coaches, freight wagons, locomotives, other railway systems before their failure thereby reducing the maintenance cost, also predict and prevent the failures and accidents thereby providing safer mode of transport to its customers.


In addition to that there are several areas where adoption and effective implementation of this technique can help them to utilize their resources judiciously, identify the trends, reduce cost and maximise profits at the same time generating alternate sources of revenue so as to keep a check on price rise on tickets as well. Thus deployment of analytics, it tools, techniques & systems can possibly deliver huge profits on investment on railways. In any case, analytics projects need to be seen as a consolidation of individuals, methodologies, and engineering. There are various components that Indian railways ought to mull over before successfully launching it and milking it to drive profits out of it and to provide top notch service to its passengers.


This article has been authored by ANU KAUSHIK and ANKIT VERMA from BHARATI VIDYAPEETH INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT AND RESEARCH, NEW DELHI



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