The Minister of Railways, Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu while presenting the Railway Budget 2016-17 in Parliament today announced that a dedicated, cross functional team called Special Unit for Transportation Research and Analytics (SUTRA) would be set up for carrying out detailed analytics leading to optimized investment decisions and operations. This team would comprise professional analysts and best-in-class decision support systems and optimization engines. Railway Minister said that data backed decision making is a hallmark of great institutions. Though Indian Railway, as an organisation, collects over 100 Terabytes of data every year, yet it is hardly analysed to gain business insights.
The Railway Minister added that a sum of Rs. 50 crore is set aside for providing innovation grants to employees, start-ups and growth oriented small businesses to support internal and external innovation. On an annual basis we will seek out solutions to Indian Railway’s most critical problems through an Innovation Challenge. The initiative would be administered by an Innovation Committee comprising reputed investors, representatives from National Academy of Indian Railways, Railway Board and ‘Kayakalp’ headed by Shri Ratan Tata. A program management structure will be put in place to manage this initiative. For this year, the areas for the annual challenge are:
• Accessibility to trains from low level platforms
• Increasing capacity of coaches
• Digital capabilities at stations
In addition, innovation labs will be set up in all our workshops and production units to support creative innovation by locals and staff.
Railway Minister added that there has been a long felt need for developing a Test Track for expeditious testing of prototypes under varying test conditions as against the prevalent practice of testing on the Railway network, which leads to traffic delays, besides inability to simulate all test conditions. Indian Railways will develop a Test Track which will go a long way in enhancing the R&D capability of Indian Railways.