Reservation System for Indian Railways
In 1985, CMC developed IMPRESS, the railway reservation system based online transaction processing (OLTP), for the Indian Railways, which has been successfully operating it since 1987. Since then, however, the system has undergone a major change for networking all nodes in the railway network. The current software is CONCERT, implemented by the Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS).
The impact of IMPRESS / CONCERT on the system's users as well as on the Indian Railways has been tremendous. The benefits include substantial savings in transportation costs and in reservation time, telescopic fare benefits for cluster journeys, reduced malpractice and, above all, a modern, efficient and convenient system.
For the Railways, there is substantial reduction in cost per ticket issued, manpower savings (a 40 per cent increase in transactions handled per day), savings in space required, less strenuous work, higher productivity and fewer errors in fare computation, concession calculations, etc.
IMPRESS is being enhanced proactively, using state-of-the-art relational database management systems on open systems. The enhanced IMPRESS is built around an RDBMS core and supports a full client-server architecture. It can also work on character-based terminals (used in the reservation and charting modules) in a host-based environment.
The application has been designed as an open distribution system, so that the data and transaction volume can be segregated between multiple host sites. Networking is an inherent feature of the application.
The IMPRESS software can support both graphic user interface (GUI) and character-based terminals, which act as front-ends installed at the booking counters to cater to passenger requests.
This software conforms to open standards. Hence, it can be interfaced to other applications like airline reservation systems, hotel reservation systems, etc., which are also based on open standards.
The IMPRESS software is 'parametric' in terms of data and business rules, for fare computation, refund rules, cancellation, break journey rules, etc. Here, business rules are also kept as data items in the back-end repository instead of being part of the application logic. Therefore, the system can absorb changes in business rules immediately, without having to regenerate the object code.
The application is secured against intrusion by two-level user authentications as the topmost guard. Below it, the data is secured from external access through multiple-level privileges. A data encryption facility is available across the WAN to prevent hacking.
- A route-based reservation system that facilitates the issue of journey-cum-reservation tickets, which can be issued from any station to any station.
- Passenger journey to multiple laps of reservation can be handled from a single terminal window.
The reservation facility is offered round-the-clock (24 hours uninterrupted).
- Changes in train profiles (train carriage addition, replacement, de-allocation), route structures, etc., can be made effective immediately with the appropriate contingency handling.
- Dynamic definition of the advance reservation period is possible. This feature facilitates defining different advance reservation periods for different trains.
- Any train running schedule can be accommodated. Even irregular trains, running on only pre-defined dates, can be defined - for example, a train running every alternate day.
- Provides on-line aggregation of EIS figures such as revenue, seat / berth utilisation, etc, and presentation of the summarised data in the form of visual analytics from the operational system's information store. The data aggregation is done incrementally, to inflict minimal impact.
- Can operate on a multi-vendor operating system. Multi-vendor hardware and communication equipment are also supported.
- IMPRESS is built on open standards and can be easily integrated with similar products and applications with open standards.
- Provides automatic database recovery against all kinds of hardware and software failures.
- Complete audit trails for transactions and data access.
- The application software is parametric, and standard railway business rules are incorporated in the form of data instead of being part of the logic.
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