Articles

Modernization of Passenger Reservation System: Indian Railway's Dilemma

S. C. SRIVASTAVA, S. S. Mathur, T. S. H. Teo

Journal of Information Technology

December 2007, vol. 22, n°4, pp.432-439

Departments: Information Systems and Operations Management, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Keywords: Railways, Government, Technology change, Legacy system, Flexibility, Customer, Railroad, India


This teaching case discusses the challenges being faced by the technology managers at Indian Railways (IR) in the current scenario of a resurgent national economy coupled with increasing customer expectations. In the face of growing competition from road and low-cost airlines, to retain its customers, IR has responded by changing its business rules. The Railway Ministry expects a rapid response from Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) to incorporate all these changes in the passenger reservation system (PRS). The old PRS, which is time-tested and reliable, and has been serving the customers' needs for nearly two decades, is now proving to be relatively inflexible to match the rapidly changing business requirements. Although the current scenario of a constant need to change the programming logic of PRS has been making maintenance tougher for CRIS officials, they have realized that PRS is a time-tested, proven, and reliable technology. Though they would be happy to replace the old PRS with a new state-of-art system that would provide them greater maintenance flexibility, the repercussions associated with possible failure of the new system are far too serious. The case exhibits the current dilemma being faced by the head of CRIS, the umbrella agency for information technology (IT) implementation in IR: whether IR should continue using the old PRS technology with its inherent shortcomings, or should it take the risk and go in for a wholesale replacement with a new state-of-art technology which would provide greater maintenance flexibility


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