Indian Railways Route Planner


It’s Never A Good Time To Ask For Money

Sticking the ‘C’ word into your blog post title can have seriously detrimental effects on your page views for that week. I suppose choosing London Marathon week as the moment to try it on again was pretty stupid.

So welcome the return of the  SEO enhancing blog post. As the no-nonsense highly descriptive title tells you,  this one concerns the mind boggling subject of planning your itinerary on Indian Railways. You’ll know this is a subject close to the heart of this project. If you aren’t a black belt at Indian Railway geography, and have an encyclopedic knowledge of the timetables,  you may find as I did, that this is a non trivial exercise. Even sites like erail.in, which is perhaps the best currently out there, has a debilitating inadequacy. If you don’t happen to be going between 2 stations that have a direct service between them, it claims there is no service available. Indian Railways does have a spectacular array of services linking almost every corner of the country to the rest of India. But even IR can’t actually run trains from every station in the country to every other. You have to work it out yourself, and if you’re covering a long distance this can be devilishly difficult if you don’t do this kind of thing for a hobby, and know the entire Indian Railways network like the back of your hand.

Photo by Helmut Schadt

These two guys are delighted they used BharatByRail to organise their trip.

During the initial development of GCIRC, this deficiency struck one of the original interested parties as quite unacceptable. Being something of a computer smarty pants he decided he was going to do something about it. Some of us who’s pants aren’t quite as smart, specifically me, told him it was an impossible task and advised him to give up immediately. I am now claiming a perverse sort of credit for the fruits of Shantanu’s labours.

The Creator demonstrates one of his earlier inventions.

Ladies and gentlemen,  sahibs and memsahibs, railway wallahs and baiis, the GCIRC research and development community brings you, for the very first time in Internet history (er, well, not quite, see the timetable stuff below) , an Indian Railways planner that can calculate mutli train routes across the network.  BharatByRail is currently very much at a beta testing stage, but there’s enough of you reading this (provided I don’t try cadging money from you) that will find this excellent device worth trying, and trying to break. This is the only site that will show you how to get from BOY to MAN on Indian railways, giving you 6 options in total. It will give you several effective ways of doing it even the most cunning of you hadn’t thought of. It gives 5 methods of doing the same journey while passing GRL, but none if you try to go through LOV as well. I’m not sure if that’s a bug or a design feature.

So please help us bring this project nearer to the masses by trying it out and giving the developer your feedback. Note: the station code completion software on the UI is still getting ironed out, please type your station codes in slowly and it works fine.  There’s a feedback form on the right hand side of the one and only page.

http://mybharatbyrail.appspot.com/

From the horse’s mouth..

Non-Jargonese

http://mybharatbyrail.appspot.com/ is constructed so that the train-search engine is entirely separate from the bit where you enter your start and destination city and time of travel stuff. I’ve written it so that different front-ends can access that search-engine. So if anybody wants to incorporate that search-engine into their front end – contact me ( via the feedback form or at shantanuDOTkarveATgmailDOTcom.

Jargonese

http://mybharatbyrail.appspot.com/ uses the usual MVC design pattern. ( I’m against patterns of course but that’s bytheby) There’s an API for the train-search-engine; with some thought given to multiple metaphors – REST, SOAP/WSDL( yuck, yuck yuck), AJAX. Also, I designed in, where contextually appropriate, multiple data transfer formats – simple UTF8, proprietary google, JSON and XML ( yuck, yuck, yuck).

So, if you want to reach out to me use the feedback form to do so ( Note the use of AJAX there :-) ).



Other things to stick in an SEO enhancing blog post about planning a journey on Indian Railways are

The Man in Seat 61

Always, always, check out the man in seat61 before catching a train in any country you’ve not traveled by rail in before.

Train timetables

http://www.90di.com/travel/ – It appears my “first time in Internet history” claim was a bit rash, 90DI actually does this stuff too, and rather well, it even includes flights and is stunningly fast. But their’s wasn’t cooked up over Christmas from scratch. BbR does do stuff though that 90DI can’t do, the Darjeeling to Rameswaram route is one such conundrum which 90DI insists on a night stop in Siliguri for no good reason, but it’s natural language interface is clearly a winner, I can even misspell those long Indian place names and it works it all out for you.

Erail.in – generally regarded as the most user friendly, though I understand that the booking information isn’t always correct.

http://indiarailinfo.com/ – also good, comes with a route/train specific forum for each service so you can ask questions about your train

http://indianrailconnections.com/PlanJourney.aspx – there is also this as part of the gov system, but it’s a bit crude, only does one stoppers, no “super-stations” i.e station groupings.

Book On-Line!

http://www.irctc.co.in/

For anyone who hadn’t noticed, the Internet was invented some time ago, and now you can buy just about anything on it, including your Indian Railways tickets. Avoid the strain of having to cope with the bureaucratic monster that India can often present itself as, and just log in to irctc and you can do it all on-line. The man in seat61 also recommends http://www.cleartrip.com/, and who am I to argue with him.

Travel Agent

The one and only S.D. Enterprises, otherwise known as IndiaRail.co.uk

If you are a Britisher, or even if you aren’t but you’re one of those foreign tourist types off to experience mighty India, then if you know what you are going to do, and when you are going to do it, you can just hand it over to S.D. . He’ll sort everything out for you. Even if you dont know what you are going to do, if you’re planing to use the railway while you are out there you’ll be hard pressed to find better advice than you’ll get from these guys.

Check Your Train’s Running Status

trainenquiry.com

This site gives the current running status of most major trains on the network. You can get this stuff from erail.in also, but trainenquiry works better. You’ll need to know the 4 digit train number first.  I also have a Perl script I knocked up as my contribution to the GCIRC R&D group which I use to monitor our target trains which works fairly well.  I’ll send you it  if  you ask nicely, or don’t sound like you’re going to need loads of help installing Perl.

The Official Indian Railway Website

http://www.indianrail.gov.in/

This list wouldn’t be complete without a link to this one. There are links to irctc and trainenquiry from here, and also lots of other things. Working things out from in here though is an art form.

10 Comments

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10 responses to “Indian Railways Route Planner

  1. skk

    Hey Mark – thanks for the plug; yup I notice the uptick in the site usage – so I’ll leave the timetable update for a more quiescent time ( during the cricket match tomorrow ? – hahahaha – actually with 2020 cricket – no chance of that – its not like the cricket we knew – at all – but for me its all good ).

    Separately:
    == NON-JARGON version==
    http://www.bharatbyrail.com is constructed so that the train-search engine is entirely separate from the bit where you enter your start and destination city and time of travel stuff. I’ve written it so that different front-ends can access that search-engine. So if anybody wants to incorporate that search-engine into their front end – contact me ( via the feedback form or at shantanuDOTkarveATgmailDOTcom.

    ==========JARGON version =========
    http://www.bharatbyrail.com uses the usual MVC design pattern. ( I’m against patterns of course but that’s bytheby) There’s an API for the train-search-engine; with some thought given to multiple metaphors – REST, SOAP/WSDL( yuck, yuck yuck), AJAX. Also, I designed in, where contextually appropriate, multiple data transfer formats – simple UTF8, proprietary google, JSON and XML ( yuck, yuck, yuck).

    So, if you want to reach out to me use the feedback form to do so ( Note the use of AJAX there🙂 ).

    -skk

  2. Lester

    it’s a real pain, the image is fine
    https://gcirc.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/shantanu1.jpeg?w=240&h=390

    I’ll incorporate your non-jargon/jargon into the post in a bit, you’re up on irfca so I would guess you should be getting some usage by now.

  3. skk

    Absolutely I am seeing the usage stats go up – more important – **** Jargon alert *** – the cloud computing style I’m using has a torrent resource allocator – the more people use it, the faster it is. And absolutely I notice that.

    -skk

  4. skk

    The feedback – both formal and in terms of the “error logs” that are posted back to me is great. I now know of several issues that I have to fix.

    Thanks all.

    -skk

  5. I’m still not sure what problem you’re trying to solve with bharatbyrail, there is already a dedicated website that shows connections for non direct routes (IndianRailConnections) and there is already a website that allows you to choose multiple routes and plan an entire Itinerary (90DI).

    I’ve still not checked out bharatbyrai properly, it’s slow and I feel I’m missing the real point of the website and need to learn what that is before I try to see if it achieves this.

    I like the idea of a separate front end, and if I understand this correctly, I think this would allow a website (indiamike for example) to create it’s own front end and then use your train search program behind it.

    Everything else explained is just gobbledegook to me (and most other people I’d guess), if we get tired, need to wash our hands, then go watch a Dutch football match, then maybe, but apart from that, I’m completely lost on all this REST, SOAP/WSDL & AJAX and what it means/does to any website.

    • Lester

      The jargonese stuff is listed under Jargonese, we’re not supposed to understand what rest and soap have got to do with an indian train journey. (dont hit me for being sarcastic india rail fans). I guess IndiaMike’s mods are going to have to do some serious groveling if they want to use this though.
      I tried indianrailconections.com, it only does one stoppers, it also takes probably several times long to scroll down that list of stations than bharatbyrail’s code completion does to work. The route finder isn’t instantaneous, but neither is erail. I tried ledo to rameswaram on both 90DI and indianrailconnections and they both told me to get lost. Ah!, that’s cos of the invisible ledo-tinsukia train, 90DI just came up with an impressive reply for NTSK-RMM, and fast.
      The original spec was to come up with a machine that would work out our route. Now when you stick in stuff like “want to stick to the edges” whatever that means, and “do something that none of us have done like the arunachal” , and “a bit of cheating like ferries and cabbing it down to Porbander is OK”, it becomes impossible. But it still coughs up some pretty interesting routes if you want to do some massive tour. From what I can see railconnectoins doesnt even have a super-stations concept which at least erail does (i.e. I want to go to VT, so really anything in downtown Mumbai will do etc.)

      Anyway, thanks for those two, I’ll add both indianrailconnections.com and 90DI to the list, though I’ll need to qualify what they actually are capable of. 90DI does look very good, I’m going to have to edit my post somewhat.

  6. Just tried a simple single trip search, CSTM to KRPU, that was about 2 minutes ago and I’m still waiting for the result.

    When loads of people use it, it could turn out to be the fastest website in history, but as 99.9% of people won’t look at it a 2nd time, it’s guaranteed to fail.

    What do they say about search engines…..95% of people look elsewhere if they don’t get a result in 4 seconds.

    It’s now close to 4 minutes and I’ve still not got a result.

    I can test these rail search websites really well, over the years I’ve got to know so many connections that need to be covered, but I’d quickly do 50 searches and want to spend just a few seconds on each search, I’d need a day to do these searches on this website.

    (still no results)

  7. Lester

    I just tried same, it took about 10 secs. does it normally work ?. It’s a beta, if it doesnt work then hit it again.
    goes via jsg and vzm using 2811, 2859 or 2809 onto the 8005 or 1019 onto 8447 .
    Also, I spoke to the chaps at 90DI, they of course know you well😉.
    One thing about 90DI was the connection times which were risky, that’s perhaps the most intractable part of the whole thing.
    but the UI is just awesome “tnsukia to ramweswaram please” (deliberate spelling error and meaningless extra word btw), and ZAP!. 20 results in your face

  8. kamal

    Great discussion!!! will never ends till all loose loop connected. IR is so vast and data and route are so complicated that we can go on discussing. What IR has to do is done by each one . Each site have a unique tool. For each tool user have to visit each site.
    90 di for link station
    erail for all trains including passenger trains in a single page irrespective of day of Journey
    Indiarailinfo for blog and query
    Irctc for booking
    bharthbyrail for multiple city
    Indiamike for query and get answer from top so called masters of knowledge of IR
    Trainenquiry for live running status ( not updated in case of passenger trains)
    indianrailgov.in for official data ( I did not understand official and unofficial as all the above site take data from IR server only as there is no way. )
    Could any one tell me if we can have all this tools in a single website or let all this brains come together and sit and do something for Indian Public.

    Missing tools which not even a single mind thought

    1. Showing station wise availability of all stations of given train number( benefit of this that a user can take ticket in two parts if A to B and B to C is available.

    2. Showing the correct link station and connecting trains. (90di and bhartbyrail show some search correct but all search is not correct)
    3. All the tools as each one has to put together.

    Guys just sit together and think on that and you will be master of this great circular Indian railway challenge.

    Sorry for long post and spell missing as I am in hurry.

  9. arjun

    they don’thave any code for route finding

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