Sunday, February 05, 2006

Indian Railway Case Study

In 21st Century Indian Railways Ministry addresses huge demand of Passenger travel by increasing number of trains at different time intervals. But there is a political dimension to this; most of the new trains added are on routes where key politicians want to show their seal of governance.

Objective: Increase supply of passenger seats to met surplus demand.

Present Capacity of a Train

Compartment Type

No. of Coaches

Max intake

Passenger Cap

Second Class

(General Compartment)




Sleeper Class (SL)




AC 3-Tier Sleeper (3A)




AC 2-Tier sleeper (2A)




First Class




Tatkal Scheme




Total Passenger Capacity



I am assuming that you are aware of the existing processes to book a ticket / know the availability / or cancellation. Let us now look at a hypothetical scenario. A user logs into the and checks availability for a train from Mumbai-Goa on 1st April; its 3 days before the date of Journey. He is unable to get air tickets too.

The System informs him-Latest Waiting List 250, the system also informs him that he can book the ticket and seat will be confirmed if Waiting list touches 400+ as per the “Special Dynamic Booking”

System informs him, that if wants to avail the “Special Dynamic Booking” he will have to pay a premium of 30% or X% more than normal fare (X% refers to a percentage premium computed by CRM application)

What is Special Dynamic Booking?

Assume Sleeper Class Present carrying capacity of train is 864, let’s take this as X. and Y as passenger capacity that can be added to train dynamically. Now Y can be added only when Railway authorities feel it’s either a profitable deal or a breakeven deal for them, depending on their objective.

This is an alternate solution to increasing number of trains, which puts more pressure on the Railway traffic logistics & updating all databases with creation of new train number. Instead dynamic addition of coaches along with a special additional engine can be added to present train. This can be achieved with integrated application of CRM & SCM.

As soon the system identifies a Waiting List to be a number which is profitable; it will integrate the Supply Chain to add more coaches with a special engine.

What’s the difference between Tatkal and “Dynamic Adding?”

Tatkal scheme allows appx 2 coaches to be added. Where as Dynamic Adding can maximum double the capacity of a normal train with an attached engine. This exclusivity allows a premium price point.

Arguments in favour:

  1. Resources required for new trains & “Dynamic Adding” is same.
  2. Increase the Platform length
  3. What if Y seats added to present capacity are unsold? Then these tickets can be sold at discount price prior to the journey similar to the revenue model followed in airline industry.
  4. Commuters will have to walk more on Platform to move to one end of the Platform, but this is minimal to the frustration of not being able to travel or waiting for another train. For the same, Platforms can be better designed with correct information of where coach is positioned. And Moving walkways can be used to commute with luggage from one side of platform to other. The speed of a moving walkway is usually 3 km/h, but there is a high-speed version at Gare Montparnasse station in Paris at 9km/h.

Acronyms: CRM-Customer Relationship Management

SCM-Supply Chain Management


Case Writer- Navendu Shirali


anupamsorabh said...

A good case study Navendu .I hope that more and more young people come out and discuss such issues..We need to pressurize the govt in implementing Dynamic allocation & fares of seats , anti collision devices (which will also increase frequency of trains , especially sub-urban trains) , stop wasting money in converting normal tracks to electric ones ,laying of tracks in neglected areas (such as tribal belts of Orissa & Chattisgarh) , gauge conversions and doubling of tracks...

Mera Bharat said...

Download our Indian Railway IRCTC app to check PNR Status, Train Schedules, Train Running Status and for all other kinds of Train Enquiry.

Ram said...

Really wonderful article. Thanks for sharing.
PNR status
Train running status