Cas Indian railways

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Journal of Information Technology (2009) 24, 392–400

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Competing technology options and stakeholder interests for tracking freight railcars in Indian Railways
Shirish C Srivastava1, Sharat S Mathur 2, Thompson SH Teo3
1

Operations Management and Information Technology Department, HEC School of Management, Paris, France;
Centre for Railway Information Systems, Indian Railways, New Delhi, India;
3
School of Business, National University of Singapore, Singapore
2

O

PY

Correspondence:
SC Srivastava, Operations Management and Information Technology Department, HEC School of Management, Paris,
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What caused Ranbir concern was the lack of consensus among the various stakeholder groups in the Indian
Railways about the idea of ‘tracking’ the rolling stock
(freight railcars, passenger coaches, locomotives). The need to automate such tracking – especially for freight railcars6 – had been felt for almost two decades. Initially, the available technology was too expensive, and experimental in nature; however, lately, technologies had stabilized, and costs had come down. Various options had become available to automate the tracking, ranging from the use of RFID tags to the use of Global Positioning Systems (GPS)-based technology. Other available alternatives were the use of optical tracking systems using OCR, or the use of hand-held devices to manually record wagon identification data.
Ranbir scrutinized the thick file of papers in front of him.
It described the pilot project for automatic wagon tracking, which had recently commenced. The pilot project envisaged the use of RFID technology, already proven in North
American railroads and other Railways, to tag 500 coal hopper wagons (Figure 1). Three trackside tag readers would be placed along one of the routes used for
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