Sunday, April 21, 2013

3 things that will improve Indian Railway user experience on the move

I know there are various value added high tech services offered by Railways and 3rd party services targeted towards transparency of information but I havent found them handy when I'm badly in need of them on the move. Btw I havent done many rail trips in a long time but whatever little I have done and whatever I have experienced when I go to see off / receive people from stations, I thought of these 3 medium tech solutions that will ease out some regular user pain points on the move.

1. Countdown Timer

Most of the time I dont know how much time I have to board the train which leads to a mad rush at the door step. Also as a passenger I'm not comfortable getting down from the train to get something from the shops at the platform as the good old mobile vendors who used to get food near the coach windows have disappeared.

Count down timer LCD displays on the platform showing how much time I have before the train leaves will help me in this situation. These counters should be prominently displayed on the platform along with the displays that show coach numbers and platform number. If the train doesn't leave on time the counter should go into negative which makes it clear that the train is delayed. This needs to be there on all stations, no matter big or small.

2. Current ETA at a station

Current ETA (not scheduled) of a train at a station is mostly displayed at the entrance of railway stations but not when you go on to the platform. I have seen some main stations showing information on the platforms like the ones you see in airports but not all stations do this. There are these small stations where long distance trains do a quick stop but the officials there are perpetually clueless about the train running status. Also as a passenger its important for me to know the time my train would reach the destination station. It particularly gets difficult during late nights.

There are several SMS based queries offered which is too difficult to figure out on the move. I dont know if this is already there but I just want a simple service where I can send an SMS with My Train Number and My Station Code (not bloody std code) and I get a reply saying where the train is right now and as per the current running schedule what time it will reach my station.

This service should be prominently advertised on all ticket print outs, coaches and on platforms.

3. Coach Position

Finding my Coach Position at a station is another painful activity when you are rushing to catch your train. Also at the insignificant stations, the officials have no clue about the coach positions of long distance trains.

Again in the above SMS service I should be able to add My Coach Number and the reply should give the platform and coach position along with the ETA.

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