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Indian Railways, live on Google Maps (trainenquiry.com)
197 points by beingpractical on Oct 10, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 44 comments

"An illiterate child from a small town in India falls asleep on a train and ends up lost in Calcutta, unable to find his way back home. Twenty-five years later, while living with his adoptive family in Australia, he locates his lost hometown using memories and Google Earth. (David Kushner, Vanity Fair)" http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2012/11/india-orphan-googl...

That was a great read. Thank you!

Glad you enjoyed it! Full credit goes to longreads.com

At time of writing, 59% of trains are delayed. I have very fond memories of train travel in India. I learned a lot about relaxing, and going with the flow.

59% of trains delayed is not an accurate representation. IR has what is known as an operating schedule provided for intermediate stations which differs from the published schedule. The intermediate and published schedules are synchronized at major junctions along the way. The operating schedule has slack built in. A train running late by upto an hour usually arrives on or before time at major and terminating stations. A case in point right at this instance 65% of the trains are on schedule, checking during the morning hours in India will show a higher on time percentage on time as trains approach terminating stops.

Correct. I don't know if this is still true, but there used to be an effort to keep a greater percentage of trains on time by delaying already late trains further (by prioritizing on time trains over them).

As a railway brat, I miss long distance train travel like crazy.

It's still true. Though IR is doing a good job of reducing delays.

This is true mostly for the (very) long distance trains. For local (not Mumbai local or elk) or maybe between two cities or so, the trains are quite late. Especially in North India, the part of the country I hail from.

It also has to do with punctuating the journey with many small stations and always being added halts.

The delays made the trip awesome. I haven't gotten onto a train in a decade but tier-2 AC is the greatest travel experience in the world.

yeah, I also do miss them so much..

a 36 hour journey from Chennay to NJP in a Sleeper.. This is India.)

At least the food on the Indian AC trains is not that awful.

I am sure "being delayed" had a lot to do with the fond memories :-)

When I was a kid and used to go on vacation with family, the late train was so good for me. It meant few extra vacation hours before schools and homework would start. I hope it would become the same again. BTW, only my lifestyle has changed. Train timings are still there where they were 15 yrs ago or maybe have become "more relaxing" :-)

Very nice app esp. in context of India where train timings are highly unpredictable.How are they getting real time data - GPS fitted or Indian rail opened APIs?

Good that they mentioned why it is not exact real time ..."For security and regulatory reasons, the information published on RailRadar is delayed for 5 or more minutes."

edit: Rephrased.

Indian Railways has numerous monitoring stations. (mainly at railway stations) These monitoring stations update train's location when trains pass 'em.

In between such points, IR may know train's realtime location, but it is not made public.


It is mentioned on the site that there are 6000 monitoring stations. Which means that, on average, there is a monitoring station every 11 kms (66k Km/ 6000). Considering an average speed of 80kmph, the location shown on the app can at max be 8.25 minutes old.

Usually, all railway lines must know the position of every train at any time. This is simply a requirement for avoiding crashes. As far as I know, there are usually pressure/induction sensors at regular intervals that detect train positions. Maybe that is what they are using?

Electric railways usually only supply actually used sections of the railway with power, so they have to know train positions, too.

Indian railways employs a number of methods. The most primitive fallback is the one where the station master updates the system whenever a train passes the station, whether or not it stops there.

http://trainenquiry.com/ already has same information in text/html format. This is just mapped to gui. Personally I prefer html format.

trainenquiry.com is operated by CRIS (which falls under the railways ministry). So they have access to all of IR data.

The same thing can be done with SF MUNI. http://www.nextmuni.com/googleMap/?a=sf-muni&r=KT&r=...

I check this before I leave every morning. I live just north of the Muni Metro East yard, so I can tell when a nice empty train is about to go into service and run over to the station just in time to catch it.

(In theory you can enable every train and bus line at once, but after a certain point the page never loads)

This is very nice, but does it breach Google's Ts&Cs with regard to business asset tracking? I only ask because I wanted to make something similar (though not India or trains)

https://developers.google.com/maps/terms section 10.2b(iii)

10.2c(iii) is pretty clear that this use is explicitly allowed:

"you may use the Google Maps API(s) to track assets such as cars, buses or other vehicles, as long as your tracking application is made available to the public without charge. For example, you may offer a free, public Maps API Implementation that displays real-time public transit or other transportation status information.)"

"please contact the Google Maps API for Business sales team" I'm pretty sure they did exactly that and got a green light.

Use Leaflet or Modest Maps!

Previous discussion on mapping trains: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4595208

There were quite a few posts like this for different countries, so: http://rasp.yandex.ru/map/trains/#center=47.140977%2C54.4277...

Trains visualized (mostly Russian) This uses their schedules not actual tracking, but trains tend to run on time now.

By "mapped live" I was hoping to see the trains move on the map. Even if it wasn't 100% accurate, it would dramatically boost the cool factor to see the trains animated along the tracks. Just an idea. I love what you've already built.

I am not sure how this can be useful for some one. When I want to take a train journey, I would like to know my train's position a few hours before I leave or when I am already at that station. I would not be sitting in front of this website and locating my train. A simple service of informing me about the delay by SMS would just be good enough. Also, the webpage loads a bit slowly on my laptop. On my smartphone with a 3G connection, it does not work at all.

Good to see the world's largest public sector employer edging towards the technology !

"world's largest public sector employer"

That dubious honour appears to belong to the US Dept. of Defense:


Indian railways : more than 5 million employees, I wonder why wikipedia dosen't list it?

Actually BBC did an article about this recently because there are a few misconceptions regarding this title and how many employees do these companies actually have:


Please include 'http' in your links to make it click-able.

didn't notice it was missing the http


It's there, but has only 1.4 million employees.

Indian Railways above Indian Armed forces. #peace

Nice to see this. Hope the praise this gets inspires the Indian Railway to do something about irctc.co.in, which is far more important.

Nicely done, I think the next step is to add granularity so that the user can focus on one particular region and get more detail.

Nice app. btw, How are you tracking trains? Is there an API for Indian railways or are you scraping data from their websites ???

AFAIK, this is done by railyatri.in for Indian Railways

Love the idea! Thanks for sharing.

Can come handy while travelling in India. Especially the little known cities.

Excellent map and railway timing integration. very nice

If only the view was not blocked by a zillion ads!

Really greate work!!!!!

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