Indian Railways has undertaken a major IT initiative for an integrated software, considered a "game changer", to optimise about Rs. 50,000 crores for the national carrier over the years.
The integrated software IR-OneICT, a first-of-its-kind for Railways, will enable data collection at sources with minimum handling and become a single source of validated and authentic information for the rail sector. It is estimated to cost about Rs. 5,000 crore over the next five years.
"We are working on an integrated, comprehensive strategy to leverage IT for improvements in systems, processes, enhance efficiency," Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said at the Digital Railway for Digital India conference, in association with Nasscom.
Though Railways have many standalone software developed for various purposes, this is an attempt to develop an integrated software for data collection and analysis in the fastest possible time.
"Our policies have led to a piecemeal approach in IT. We have now initiated for an integrated one and it will be the. game changer which can according to the industry optimise Rs. 50,000-60,000 crore for railways," Prabhu said.
The proposed integrated software envisages timely availability of actionable information for authorised persons at place of use and enable improved data analysis and usage.
Prabhu said the conference was part of a series of discussions being held to consult sector experts, external stakeholders to deliberate on infusion of IT in all aspects of Indian Railways' functioning.
"ICT will cover all the aspects, including cost analysis, attendance, accounting, asset management, medical management and land management of the Railways," he said.
Better capacity and asset utilisation would help the Railways run more trains, carry more freight, provide better and reliable services to passengers, increase its revenues and make its operations safer.
"Some routes are not profitable but socially necessary, on other routes though there is demand not many trains run on that route so it can be captured which can lead to revenue gain. So this can be a building block for informed decision making," the Railways Minister said.
Referring to cyber theft, he asked the industry to do the needful to have an inbuilt security system. "We must keep in mind cyber-security issues as we are going to be sophisticated and more vulnerable to security issues. ICT is necessary. Do a better job in creating safety wall," he said.
Referring to the complaints against railway service, Prabhu said it is the best information system available free of cost that can be used as management tool to take informed decision.
Railways has scaled up its IT expenditure from Rs. 336 crore in 2016-17 to Rs. 513 crore in the 2017-18 fiscal.