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Author's profile photo Varun Verma

How SAP HANA can help millions of Indians plan their travel

Millions of Indians use the Indian Railway every day to travel across India. The Indian Railways is one of the largest Railway networks in the world and it carries approx 30 million passengers daily.

Bookings in Indian Railways opens 120 days in advance from the date of travel. Some routes are not as busy as others and usually tickets are available until 30 days in advance. However, some routes are very very busy and the booking is exhausted within hours of opening – especially during peak seasons like Summer Vacations, Diwali Vacations etc.

Since the tickets are booked so fast, often passengers have to plan their travel quite early – as early as 4 months. Often these travel plans change and passengers end up paying the cancellation fee.

What do passengers need?

– Ability to forecast / estimate the traffic – taking into account the national vacations / events etc.

– Ability to forecast the chances (probability) of getting a confirmed ticket.

What does Indian Railways Organization need?

– Ability to forecast / estimate the traffic so that they could plan more trains

– Ability to estimate the number of cancellations

What can SAP HANA do?

– SAP HANA can help the Indian Railways analyze the historic passenger volumes and estimate the traffic

– SAP HANA can analyze the historic cancellation information and help the Indian Railways plan additional trains effectively.

– SAP HANA can predict the chances of getting a confirmed ticket based on historic data.

Why only SAP HANA can do it?

– On an average, approx 30 millions passengers travel daily with Indian Railways.

– More than 10000 trains run daily

– Data volume for a year will be approximately: 10 Billion ! — Who else can analyze this?

Is this really feasible?

I asked myself, Is this really feasible? And then I decided to do a prototype. Of course, I have no access to the data of Indian Railways and I am no Hacker 😉

Hence, I decided to analyze the data available in the public domain (freely accessible to everyone).

The prototype:

Indian Railways provides an online facility to look up for the current availability in trains. The availability can be checked here:


This gives only one side of the information. i.e. – the availability. Here, we do not have any cancellation information. i.e. how many tickets are cancelled each day.

However, this is good enough data to analyze. This publicly available data was uploaded into a HANA sandbox system for analysis.

For the purpose of prototype, I analyze the data of 1 train that runs from Bangalore to New Delhi. I plotted the availability (number of tickets available) on Y-Axis vs. the date on X-Axis. This shows how the availability is reduced.

Availability for travel date: 6th June:


Availability for 7th June:


Availability for 8th June:


Availability for 9th June:


From the above graphs, it is evident that in a time span of 9th May – 4th June, more tickets were booked for travel date = 8th June as compared to other dates.

Well, that sounds very logical because 8th June is Friday 🙂 .

For more technical details, feel free to contact me.

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      Author's profile photo Hardik Patel
      Hardik Patel


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Nice idea...

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hi Varun,

      You have done a great job. Actually reading the heading I was expecting something different. We are very much aware that how slow IRCTC booking is. An In-memory database like HANA can bring down the time a lot so that making booking incredibly fast. Still, I'm aware this involves the work of web server also but I hope the database time can be brought down a lot.



      Author's profile photo Ramanathan Ganapathy
      Ramanathan Ganapathy

      Very good idea! With the mass volume transactions involving Indian Public, SAP HANA can revolutionize the way things are done.

      Author's profile photo Rakesh. M
      Rakesh. M

      Cool idea... 🙂

      Author's profile photo Shrirang Joshi
      Shrirang Joshi

      Indian Railways - Do they use only one Database for all the reservations data?

      They can have multiple databases to store reservations data and one URL as common frontend.

      Author's profile photo Varun Verma
      Varun Verma
      Blog Post Author

      Single DB / Multiple DB -- I don't know.

      However, how does having multiple DB solve the problem ?

      Through my blog post I am trying to show how predictive analytics on historic data using HANA can solve day-to-day problems of millions of travelers.

      Author's profile photo Shrirang Joshi
      Shrirang Joshi

      My expectation is - There are 10,000 trains running per day. Instead of maintaining only one system for all of them, they can have 10 systems with 1000 trains data on each system. They might be already having similar solution in place.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Great idea indeed !! SAP HANA must be implemented in IRCTC...

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Very good article... This use case, can really help resolve many issues of Travellers willing to use Indian Railways as the first option ...

      Had read in the past the Indian Railways uses Sybase Technology for its Ticketing and transactions.

      Varun, have you taken this forward to the next level ?

      Author's profile photo Aby Jacob
      Aby Jacob

      Dear Varun,

      Wonderful Idea, Please do reach out to the concerned railway authorities.

      Thanks !

      Author's profile photo Vishal Ranjan
      Vishal Ranjan

      Thanks Varun.

      Author's profile photo Varun Verma
      Varun Verma
      Blog Post Author


      6 years after I conceptualized this idea, the Indian Railways implements my idea