Sample Technology Case Study on Indian Railways

Executive Summary

Indian Railways is one of the largest railway companies in the whole world. The railway system of India is owned and managed by the ministry of railway under the Indian government. It plays an important role developing the economy of the country. It gives the country an affordable and environmental friendly to the Indians. Railway is the main transportation system in the country, it is majorly used by passengers to ferry goods which are huge. Just like any other railway line Indian railway is technologically intensive in that it is needed to trace the destinations and improve the efficiency. This would decrease the accidents and traffic congestions. The research is to focus on ways to improve this through the use of various technologies. The research concentrates on the implementation of the current IT technologies for locating personal freight railcars which are sometimes known as the wagons. The person concern with the implementation was Ranbir Singh who had the mandate to test several technological options and to come up with the best that could help the freights carry out the transportations effectively. The various technological options that would be used in the automate tracking operations include the use of GPS system which uses the satellite in sending and tracking information, the use if RFID tags, and lastly the EPC Gen 2. After analyzing all the technologies, then the decision on the one to pick would follow depending on the cost effectiveness of the technology plus its efficiency.




The case study is about the implementation of modern technology for tracking personal freight railcars popularly known as the wagons by the Indian Railways. After examining various technological options, the Indian Railways agreed to perform a quick project founded on time-tested equipment through automatic plus radio frequency identification. Ranbir Singh shows concern for the railway issue after becoming the head of the Centre for railway information system. He spent over thirty-three years just trying to solve multiple problems for the India Railways. The last assignment was connected to being the head of the operational railways at the second zone having the knowledge of the railway operations having worked as an IT executive with the company. This made a lot of sense as to why he had decided to take the course.  


Indian Railways


The railway of India was about to expand the network of its freight because of the increased in the economic practices and their GDP this led to the need for freight carriage requirement. Hence, for accurate monitoring the freight wagon, the company decided to apply a different automatic identification system through the embedment of new technology equipment. The leader of the center Mr. Ranbir Singh had been given the authorities to decide on the issues affecting the implementation of the freight wagons’ technological system. In any case, the selected system of technology makes sense or an encouraging impression on the freight wagon then it was the one to be implemented in the whole country. The problem t was that Singh had to develop a solution that could impress all the stakeholders. The paper tries to show and describe the problems that were faced by the CRIS department of the Railways of India and to conduct an analysis of the possible solutions that have been recognized. Another thing that the paper tries to handle is the number of considerations that could be possibly analyzed so as to come up with a final choice between the suggested options.  Apart from that, the paper elaborates the available stakeholder’s groups who have control in the decisions that would be made by Ranbir Singh and to know the most significant stakeholders in that industry. The last thing is that the paper tries to analyze the advantages and disadvantages of the options plus the given recommendations.

Problem Identification

In the past years, Center for Railway Information System has been delegated to deal with over twenty large current projects which entail almost all the aspects which are connected to technology operating within the Railway Board in India. The growth of Gross domestic product increased from nine percent every year from two thousand and five to two thousand and eight was due to the operation efficiency of IT which showed a great in the Indian railways. Ranbir Singh discovered that there was an innocuous project that could track a sample of Indians Railways fleet of around two hundred thousand wagons through the use of radio frequency identification technology which would cost around two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. The system had the ability to change the methods that the operations of the freight could work in the coming years. According to Singh if the operation is properly handled, then that technology could increase the operational system and generate revenue of up to seven hundred and fifty million dollars. But if the operation was not managed as required then the result could be the origin of a missed opportunity and would cause a pull on the revenue, and on top of that, it would cost the Indian Railway about one hundred million dollars loss in the equipment plus the installation costs of that equipment (Sharma, 2012).

Ranbir’s primary concern was the lack of consensus that was with the numerous stakeholders which found in the Indian railways on the issues of tracking the rolling inventory like the freight railcars, passenger coaches, locomotives and many other stocks. The desire to automate the tracking particularly the one for the freight railcars had been experienced for over ten years. In the beginning, the technology which was present was very expensive plus its nature was too experimental this problem of late has been stabilized, and the cost has reduced, and there are a lot of options which are available currently to automate the tracking operations. It ranges from the application of the RFID tags to the application of the systems of the Global Positioning based technology which known as the GPS. There was also another technology that could be used to the optical tracking system plus the application of handheld gadgets which could record the identification data manually. Singh scrutinized the piled files of papers that were presented to him which described the project for automatic wagon tracking which had been commenced in the recent past. The file shows that the technology had already been applied in the North American Railroads and it was successful; it was used in tagging around five hundred coal hopper wagons. The system will work by putting three trackside tag indicators which would be included in the paths used to haul high-grade coal.

Analysis of Alternative Solution

Just like other developed countries for instance United States of America, Australia, they have also had problems with the automated tracking of freight wagons since the early seventies. They began with the idea of painting wagons with colored bar codes at the sideways. After several years of research, plus a lot of development made in the field of technology due to inventions they developed the RFID-based system in the early nineties it was named the Automatic Equipment Identification system. This equipment allowed the trackside gadgets which were called the radars helped the track side gadgets in reading a recording the RFID tags which were fixed on the sides of the railcars, in the end, the all system was able to capture the numbers of identification automatically. The information that was read by the device was then transferred to a central point which a railcar was meant for tracking database. Since then the system has been revolutionized and has been made compulsory in the United States of America by the Association of the American Railroads. It is majorly functional from the class one railroads in the United States of America (Shainesh, G., & Mathur, 2000).

The same method was planned to be used India, but the challenge was that several technologies were competing to do the same duty. The major technology which was popular was the RFID, but despite its popularity, there were other new technologies which had a good standard system like the EPC Gen2 that had emerged. The challenge was that the second technology came with promises and assurance of its capability to deliver efficient service at a lower cost for the system of tracking which was the main problem. The third technology which could be applied by the authority was the use of GPS which was a satellite based, this had already been put on trial in the country of India, it was tested on the passenger’s train. The system of GPS was initially considered the best since it had proved its worth during the time when it was tested in the passenger train. It increased the quality of information offered by the trains that were ferrying passengers within a given distance, the location plus the speed and the direction on which the train could be heading.

All these technologies were available for the Indians to adopt, but they had to choose the most efficient and the one which was cost effective. Hence, the idea of hiring Ranbir Singh to conduct the research and come up with a solution came into question. The solution that Ranbir was going to offer had to consider the interests of the stakeholders. Despite the system that he decided to use the challenge was that many competing technologies would wish to do the same job. These competing technologies could also offer the same service at a lower cost. The various stakeholders of the project include various departmental groups like the Department of the signal and telecommunications, members of the traffic operating department, mechanical department, and the secretariat of the minister, chairman of the railway board plus the minister for the railway. All these shareholder groups had to be involved in the process of finding a solution to the problems. The mentioned departments were not the only stakeholders, though; there were external stakeholders, for instance, the freight customers who considered being the main beneficiaries of the project (Srivastava, et al, 2009).

Considerations for Analysis

The first and important process that shall be used by the CRIS department is to perform a thorough and strong analysis of the alternatives plus their compatibility on relation to the particular departments of Indian Railway. Knowing and understanding the strengths and weakness for each option can be used as an advantage by CRIS to come up with concrete recommendations to the Executive Officer to the Minister of Railways with the authorization from the department of finance. The specifications and requirements for each department are to be analyzed to attain their requirements that exist among different options. Lastly, Ranbir Singh must have in mind the plans for the specific alternative and its exploitation shortly must also be analyzed in detail. This would assist CRIS to study and evaluate the alternatives with regards to the future long-term benefits it could get for the Indian Railway and all economy of Indian(Sharma, 2012).

Alternative 1

RFID System is a technological device that uses reader or interrogators which do not use a battery or any other power source for electricity. It is connected to the freights’ wagons. The device absorbs power from a given reading range. RFID system has been perfectly used in many developed nations especially in the North America which gives Indian Railway a set example.


There would be few chances of failure for the specific system. It is a way of giving a comprehensive tracking of a freight wagon. RFID also has the benefits of adapting to certain needs of the country. This particular system has the approval of all departments. The chance available with the completion of a RFID system is the updated edition of the particular system termed as the EPC Gen2 which can be put to use shortly.


A higher cost connected to the RFID system along with the doubtful of the suggestions in the complex Railway system of India is a disadvantage for Indian Railways as none of the instances could be located where the process is successfully launched in a complex railway system. The organization is not certain about the cost plus benefit analysis of RFID system. There is an estimated threat to the system can interfere in the mechanical department. However, if this occurs after that, the mechanical department has the same rights to criticize the system without earlier notice (Srivastava, et al, 2009).

Alternative 2: EPC Gen2


It is the highly developed form of RFID system which sustains a reasonable cost and is more efficient compared to that of RFID system. It can give an accurate controlling of the wagons plus the low turnaround time. There would be the reason for the appointment of clerks as it would conserve time and cost of the Indian Railway. On top of that, the EPC Gen2 is best for every department as long as the mechanical department does not have troubles with its plans and the way I function. Chance could be recognized by many countries in the whole world have presently implemented that specific system which is an upgraded system.


The main limitations of this system are that the signals are sent through metals and sometimes it is being absorbed by water this would make the performance to below. Hence the stakeholders would not benefit so much from it. The next problem according to the experts showed that the method would not function properly if they are used in several freights which were adjacent to each other. Since the RFID proved to be the better option for the problem, Ranbir decided to expand its application to other areas. Despite the efforts that he made there were allot of questions that were going through his mind, what if he had not planned correctly at the moment, will the technology serve its purpose and should the wagon tracking system be used in other methods of rolling stock. Because of all these questions, there was a call to apply all the technologies including EPC Gen 2; this was because there was a need to that the trackside readers to be similar for every tracking asset (Srivastava, et al, 2009).

Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Impact Audit

Indian Railway is the single biggest carrier of freight passengers in the whole country. The company manages around eight hundred million passengers and over nine hundred million tons of goods annually. Because of the functions of the railway’s system, it is likely one of the major causes of pollution since it carries a lot of pollutants like coal, cement, petroleum plus others. Because of these concerns, they have decided to come up with comprehensive environmental guidelines for managing the transportation of these items in open wagons, even though there are no criteria that have been set yet to monitor the performance that can reduce the environmental pollutions. Another according to audit is that the India Railway failed to follow the rules according to the environmental control board.  The recommendations provided should include, they should come up with policies that assure that the environment is maintained, in that the air and water are controlled. They should also have a place where disposal can take place


Since all these technologies in one way or the other have proved useful depending on their history, it would be appropriate to apply all of them in tracking the railcars. This would help the various stakeholders both the internal and the external in conducting their operations without a lot of fear of making a lot of losses from the previous tracking problems.




Sharma, R. C. (2012). Recent advances in railway vehicle dynamics. Int. J. Vehicle Structures & Systems, 4(2), 52-63.

Shainesh, G. & Mathur, M. (2000). Service quality measurement: The case of railway freight services. Vikalpa, 25(3), 15-22.

Srivastava, S. C., Mathur, S. S. & Teo, T. S. (2009). Competing technology options and stakeholder interests for tracking freight railcars in Indian Railways. Journal of Information Technology, 24(4), 392-400.