Hyderabad: Indian Railways have embarked on creating a complete GIS-based base map for its entire network and assets. Under the INR 30-crore plan, the Railways also plan to integrate the work of all its departments and divisions, track trains real-time with use of GPS.
Revealing this, S.S. Mathur, General Manager, Corporate Planning, Centre for Railway Information Systems, said digitisation of records was needed as records were in paper form, some of them as old as 1940s. A GIS-based map interface was called for location of the huge network of railway assets, tracking trains and integration of the department works.
Speaking on the second day of the India Geospatial Forum, Mathur said after looking at various option and the huge gamut of technology available, the decision to initially lay down a base map was taken because it would be a fast and accurate process. “Otherwise it would have taken us years to complete it, and by that time the system and technology would have been outdated.”
Owing to paucity of time, the railways have decided against extensive ground survey beyond establishing ground control points. The railways will use existing data such as engineering drawings, drawings and maps of stations and platforms and land records along with satellite imagery to create the base map. One-metre resolution data would be used to map land along the focus areas (railway stations and yards) while for non-focus areas, the resolution would be 2.5 metre. Once the land and civil engineering assets were mapped, signalling and other data would be added on top of that.
Presenting another interesting case of geospatial technology being used in transport, G. Kumar, Chief Officer (Information Technology) Tamil Nadu Highways Department (TNHD), elaborated on the e-pathai project of the department which had won the Geospatial Excellence Award for Infrastructure on Monday. The World Bank-funded project, a web-enabled road information and pavement management system spread over 60,000 km road network spread all over the state, was established within an astonishing period of just eight months. It helps in continuous monitoring and maintenance, effective decision making in planning, programming and allocation of resources. TNHD used the SOI base maps and integrated data from the Election Commission, NHAI, municipal corporations, water board, soil board etc to create the base map which even gives details such the district and taluka boundaries, MP and MLA constituencies among others in addition to complete information on the roads – drawings, electric poles, bridges etc. TNHD has procured two specialised technology-enabled vehicles that drives on the road and captures real-time data on the condition of the roads, potholes, surrounding areas etc. It is even possible to calculate the shortest route between two points by using a Bing map application.
The second phase of the project will look at digitising another 40,000 km of smaller roads. The financial and project monitoring aspects are linked to the state budget and TNHD is currently looking to update the data every three years. Kumar, who agreed that the three-year period was a bit long for updation of such critical data, pleaded helplessness in current situation owing to the high cost of the specialised data collection vehicle, which cost INR 1.5 crore. He expressed hope now that the base had been established, with proper funding expansion and updation would also happen with time.
Source: Our Correspondent