Indian Railways plans Big to adopt AI & Data Analytics for Operational Efficiency

In a bid to improve operational efficiency, Indian Railways is planning to go big with artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics! To analyze the data generated by Indian Railways, the national transporter has tied up with the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad.

Railway Board Chairman V K Yadav was quoted in a PTI report saying that a Centre for Excellence will be set up by Indian Railways in this regard in the next three months. A decision has been taken by the Railway Board to appoint a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in every zone of Indian Railways. The CTO’s mandate will be to keep a track of emerging technologies in AI and analytics as well as use it in the rail system, Yadav said.

According to Yadav, Indian Railways has train operations-related data, passenger-related data, freight data and even asset-related data. Now, the national transporter wants to analyze all this data with the help of AI and analytics as well as utilize it in Indian Railways’ Passenger Reservation System (PRS), introduction of new train services and even predictive asset maintenance.

Hyderabad’s ISB has been given the task to plan an introductory capacity building program as well as prepare a report on AI’s industrial practices on railway transport and benchmarking. Besides, the ISB will also come up with a report on establishing the centre for excellence along with an advanced capacity building program.

Meanwhile, for this purpose, 88 officials have already been trained by Indian Railways over the last two months and such training will also be provided in every zone and division for identified officials. According to the report, the training modules include data science, big data analytics, cloud computing, AI using reinforcement learning as well as AI for autonomous vehicles.

Other than a CTO in zonal headquarters, Indian Railways has also planned to have an assistant chief technology officer (ACTO) in divisions directly reporting to the GM and DRMs respectively, according to officials. For training in data analytics and AI, six to ten officers in divisions as well as around 20 officers in zonal headquarters will be identified. These officers will be trained formally in institutes like IITs, IIMs, ISB, IIIT in the two subjects of AI and data analytics. The national transporter is also looking at the development of data sharing protocols with CRIS, RailTel and others, the officials added.