Innovation Ecosystem in India

Ideal Train Profile: Railways’ AI-based project to shorten ticket waitlists


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ideal Train Profile

Mains level: AI, Machine Learning

The Indian Railways has concluded the trial of an Artificial Intelligence (AI) program it built to fix a perennial issue — long waiting lists for tickets.

Ideal Train Profile

  • Ideal Train Profile was made by Railways’ in-house software arm Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS).
  • It was fed with information like how millions of passengers booked tickets on these trains, which origin-destination pairs were a hit and which were flops at what time of the year, which seats remained vacant for what portion of a journey, etc.
  • This project has been in the works for the past two years, wherein the AI has been “taught” ticket booking data and trends of the past few years.
  • It has come up with the best possible combination of how many berths to keep for which sectors and at what time.
  • The combination of “training data” the AI has been fed goes back three years.

Significance of the project

  • The AI-driven program has, for the first time, allocated vacant berths in over 200 trains in such a way that fewer people need to turn away without a confirmed ticket.
  • The waiting lists on these trains, as a result, have seen a curtailment.

Need for AI in ticket booking

  • Currently, the passenger is handed out a wait-listed ticket and asked to wait until four hours prior to departure, when the final seat chart is prepared, to see if she made the list.
  • This is because a large number of berths are earmarked for various quotas and various origin-destination combinations of the train’s routes.
  • If there are 60 halts in a long-distance train, then there are 1,800 possible ticket combinations of origin and destination.
  • If there are 10 halts, there are typically about 45 ticket combinations and so on.
  • The Ideal Train Profile’s AI tells the Passenger Reservation System how best to give out confirmed tickets and for which sectors.

Way forward

  • The AI does data-driven remote location selection, completely automates the process of quota distribution, and suggests optimal quota for different ticket combinations based on historical demand.
  • The project has got the Railway Board excited about the possibility of how it can manage busy season rush, when the demands of confirmed tickets are at a peak.
  • So the coming summer vacation season will be the first big test for the new system.


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