Logistics

Railway offices brace to go mobile

Mamuni Das New Delhi | Updated on July 11, 2019 Published on July 11, 2019

RailTel implementing e-office project to cut process time and improve transparency

At a time when many government arms are struggling to shrink their offices into employees’ laptops, the Indian Railways may soon begin the ambitious process of shrinking its office into their mobiles.

RailTel, a public sector enterprise, is driving this exercise by pushing technological and behavioural change through YouTube, WhatsApp groups and appointing two managers in each office where the trial is on.

This e-office project (of which the mobile office venture is a part), which RailTel has also started in Coal India and some other railway public sector units, is profitable for the miniratna enterprise, according to its top officials.

“In the future, we are looking to provide the e-office suite for use on mobile devices as well. Implementation of e-office is being done across the ranks. So, office superintendents who initiate proposals are doing it on e-office,” Puneet Chawla, CMD, RailTel, told BusinessLine recently. To get moving on the project, RailTel has to ready one lakh digital signatures of its officials. It has managed to get 20,000 already, said Chawla.

Developed by NIC

E-office is a software developed by the National Informatics Centre, IT Ministry’s e-governance application building arm, to shift file movement from paper to electronic mode. This should cut time to process files and improve transparency. Interestingly, though Chawla leads the e-office project, he admits his own preference is to start his mornings by reading newspaper in print, not on electronic devices.

RailTel is implementing the e-office project for the entire Indian Railways, the country’s largest employer with 13 lakh staff. To successfully make this happen, RailTel has to ensure that all files on e-office can move seamlessly across offices, located in different cities. For this, RailTel has been using its own optical fibre cable laid along the rail network till now. But soon, it may start buying the services of cable TV operators that have the last mile connectivity.

Last mile connectivity

“The difficulty is – earlier, we were not going for last mile connectivity extensively. Now, we have decided we will serve customers wherever they are, even where our access networks do not exist. We will hire fibre from other service providers or cable operators for the last mile,” he said.

To store all these files, the legacy data and e-drawings, RailTel has got its own cloud services, called Railcloud with about 1,000 Terabytes of storage space — that is space enought to store 10 lakh good quality movies of about 1 GB each. And, if needed RailTel will expand the storage space.

Shifting all the paperwork online will not threaten jobs of the government office staff set-up - stenos and secretaries, according to RailTel officials. It’s just that instead of on paper, files or reimbursement requisitions will be raised online, and “I will have to use the computer (or mobile) to click and approve,” explained Chawla as his organisation gives lessons to non-techies on how to swap pen and paper for keyboards.

Published on July 11, 2019
  1. Comments will be moderated by The Hindu Business Line editorial team.
  2. Comments that are abusive, personal, incendiary or irrelevant cannot be published.
  3. Please write complete sentences. Do not type comments in all capital letters, or in all lower case letters, or using abbreviated text. (example: u cannot substitute for you, d is not 'the', n is not 'and').
  4. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.
  5. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name, to avoid rejection.