Launched amidst much fanfare back in October 2011 – barely a year ago, as part of a collaboration between IIT Kanpur and the Indian Railways, project SIMRAN was a Rs.100 crore project that aimed to help users track real time location of trains running on Indian Railways. The service as of now has been shut down by IIT Kanpur citing lack of funds.
SIMRAN stands for Satellite Imaging for Rail Navigation and the much used service kept people informed about the current information regarding select trains running on the Indian Railways. Apart from providing the location, it also gave the current speed, next approaching station and the current delay in runnning times.
The data was made available to users in two formats ; SMS and web. Using the web, users could simply visit simran.in and check out the list of trains that are running for their current status. For those who did not have access to a PC or a mobile, they were able to use an SMS based service where the user can send a shortcode with the train number that they want to query and they would receive a reply with the details of the train.
The service was also made available in a bunch of languages. SIMRAN made use of GPS receivers (placed inside the coaches, usually the last LRM coach) that relayed data from the trains using that were placed in coaches of the trains that were included in this project.
The project SIMRAN website was running fine until recently. However, when we checked it earlier today, there was a bold message stating that IIT Kanpur has decided against maintaining the website due to non availability of funds.
The message directly blames the Indian Railways for not providing them with enough funds for them to continue the project. Remember that this was a Rs.100 crore project that was launched just a year ago.
While it is a known fact that the Indian Railway’s is facing a cash crunch at this moment, shutting down a helpful service like this certainly seems to be unwarranted. We are trying to get in touch with officials at IIT Kanpur for details on why exactly they decided against continuing this project.
Update: The service has miraculously returned! As of now, the site is working once again! We tried contacting IIT Kanpur and were sent in a continuous loop with being transferred from one official to another. We await clarity on the status of the project.