New Delhi: Technology seems to be the latest mantra in the Indian Railway, with the national transporter set to create a special unit for conducting in-house research.
Named SRESHTA (Special Railway Establishment for Strategic Technology and Holistic Advancement), the new entity will comprise mostly scientists and railway experts.
Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO), railways' current research arm, will focus only on day-to-day issues, while SRESTHA will be responsible for long-term research for improving the functioning of the public sector behemoth.
The new research unit will be headed by a reputed scientist, who will report directly to the Chairman, Railway Board, said a senior Railway Ministry official, adding "the need for such a wing was felt for long".
Though RDSO was meant to conduct research, it could hardly undertake any.
"Most of the time RDSO is involved in finalising the standards and specifications for the new equipment to be acquired by the public transporter. As a result it is left with hardly any time for research work," said the official.
Currently new technology is imported by railways as the RDSO has not been able to do in-house research work on various technologies required for upgradation in signalling and telecommunication system, track designing, improvement in rolling stock and many such areas.
However, despite the constraints, RDSO is credited for developing of pre-stressed concrete sleepers used for laying tracks and the newly designed double decker coaches.
The official said, "There is a huge requirement for introducing latest technology in rail sector to bring it at par with other developed railways in the world."
Use of latest technology in improving passenger amenities is a key area where the new body will focus, he added. Besides, a dedicated cross functional team called Special Unit for Transportation Research and Analytics (SUTRA) would be set up for carrying out detailed analysis for optimal investment decisions and operations.
The team would comprise professional analysts and have best in class decision support systems and optimization engines. It is a well-established fact that data backed decision making is the hallmark of great institutions and SUTRA is being set up for this purpose only, the official said.