Authentic information is the objective

S. Vishnu Sharma, INN/Chennai, @svs037

You want to go somewhere on a local train, but you donot know at what time the train will arrive? Having a right answer to that question and accessing correct information on ancillary services provided by Railways is now possible, thanks to mobile app ‘Rail Partner’
The app launched by General Manager of Southern Railway R K Kulshreshta on 12 October has been brought out by commercial department of Southern Railway and has accurate information on local trains and ancillary services of Railways. According to sources, the app was launched with a motive of providing information that can be relied upon.  
There are apps already on the cyber space that can provide the information a local train passenger requires, but their accuracy is in doubt as they dont get updated regularly owing to their no connectivity with Railways.
After receiving complaints from passengers about lack of accuracy on information obtained from various other apps, efforts to build this app began, say sources from Railways. This app will be like  a  helpmate  for  providing  all  kinds  of  information  needed  by  passengers  to  plan  their rail journeys and like a companion during their journey to facilitate various requirements on trains and at stations. 
Rail Partner is particularly user friendly in that visually challenged users can easily  use  this  Rail  Partner by activating the  ‘Talk  Back’ facility in their smart phones. Besides giving the regular information services as PNR status, train schedules, spot-your train and others, Rail Partner gives the customer full details of the Chennai  Suburban services and special trains. 
The App provides direct call facilities for 20 most commonly required help lines and support services in all  divisions like on-board medical assistance, RPF, GRP, Women helpline, E-Catering, Child helpline, UTS-on-mobile, Vigilance. And also the phone numbers  of  all  major stations on Southern Railway. 
A comprehensive FAQ is also included, which gives vital information on passenger amenities, PRS, UTS, mobile ticketing, luggage and parcels, foreign tourist services and claims/refund rules.
A unique menu listing all special trains (other than regular trains) based on the user’s preferred route is also provided. 
This information will always be available on the user’s phone and will give more accurate business development intelligence. Even for future direct communication with our customers, this App will be more reliable and easy platform, better than SMS alerts or emails, since it uses the ubiquitous android environment.
After downloading this app from the play store, there is a onetime registration. It has six menus,  namely Chennai Suburban information, Reserved Trains Timings Enquiries, SMS based services,  Value  Added  Services,  Rail  Contacts  and  FAQs. 
For Chennai suburban timings, the data is made available in the mobile phone itself. This data will be automatically uploaded when they install or update this app. Whenever a change in suburban time table happens, the same will be also updated in the mobile storage.
For reserved train timings, this app is developed in such a way that it works both offline and online. Online  usage will give the most upto-date data, so customers are encouraged to keep the app in online mode always. SMS based services include PNR status, spot your train,  platform  position and onboard services.
In value added services, it registers demands of railway  customers for special trains in any sector on this railway.

By Editor