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Indian Railways AI-based Project
News: 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.
• 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.
• 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 to come up with the best possible combination of how many berths to keep for which sectors and at what time.
Who developed this program and what is it called?
• Made by Railways’ in-house software arm Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS), this AI module, called Ideal Train Profile, 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.
• The combination of “training data” the AI has been fed goes back three years.
Why was its need felt?
• The railways lagged how it is not practically possible to keep physically increasing the number of trains in every sector based on demand. They had seen that on not getting confirmed tickets passengers would switch to other mode of transport. Thus, the solution is to take a re-look at its own inventory of berths and apportion them intelligently.
• The Ideal Train Profile’s AI tells the Passenger Reservation System how best to give out confirmed tickets and for which sectors.
What lies ahead?
• 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.