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Innovation & sustainability drive our digital transformation initiatives: Chandra Kishore Prasad, Executive Director, RailTel

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In an exclusive conversation with Express Computer, Chandra Kishore Prasad, Executive Director, RailTel (Mini Ratna PSU), shares insights on how RailTel is modernising the Indian Railways’ telecom system by providing premier telecom infrastructure services with cost-effective, state-of-the-art communication solutions. He discusses RailTel’s wide range of projects, including mission-critical connectivity services like the IP MPLS backbone, IP-based video surveillance systems at stations, Digital Workspace ‘e-Office’ services, Hospital Management Information Systems, and the implementation of short-haul connectivity between stations and long-haul connectivity to support various organisations within the Indian Railways. He highlights RailTel’s innovations, such as the launch of state-of-the-art data centers, RailCloud, and an optic fiber network, aimed at enhancing passenger experience and supporting digital transformation initiatives within Indian Railways.


Could you share the key objectives and mission of Railtel?

RailTel is a “Mini Ratna (Category-I)” Central Public Sector Enterprise engaged in providing information and communication technology products and services and one of the largest neutral telecom infrastructure providers in the country, owning a Pan-India optic fiber network. The optic fiber network covers important towns and cities in the country and several rural areas.

RailTel was incorporated on September 26, 2000, with the objective of modernising the existing telecom system for the control, operation, and safety of Indian Railways and to generate additional revenues by creating a nationwide broadband and multimedia network, laying optical fiber cable using the right of way along railway tracks. Presently, the optic fiber network of RailTel covers over 61000+ route kilometers and covers 6108+ railway stations across India. Our citywide access across the country is 21000+ kms. The mission of the company is to attain leadership in providing premier telecom infrastructure services by offering cost-effective state of the art communication solutions.

What are some unique qualities or strengths that set RailTel apart?


RailTel has a strategic relationship with the Indian Railways, and it undertakes a wide variety of projects, including the provision of mission critical connectivity services like the IP MPLS backbone, IP based video surveillance system at stations, digital workspace ‘e-office’ services, a hospital management information system, and implementing short haul connectivity between stations and long haul connectivity to support various organisations within the Indian Railways. 

RailTel also provides various passenger services, including content on demand services, and has deployed one of the largest public Wi-Fi services across 6,000+ railway stations in India.

RailTel’s data centers are certified for Tier-III (design & facility), and their services are ISO 27001:2013 Certified for Information Security Management System; ISO 20000:2018 Certified for Service Management System, ISO 9001:2015 Certified for Quality Management System, ISO 27017:2015 Certified for Cloud Security, ISO 27018:2019 Certified for Data Privacy in Cloud Service, ISO 27033 Certified for Network Security, and CMMI Maturity Level-4 Certified for Process Improvement.

What initiatives or projects have you implemented to drive innovation and growth within RailTel?


Initiatives and projects driving innovation and growth within RailTel:
1. Expansion of broadband and Wi-Fi services:

  • RailWire broadband: Expanded RailWire, a retail broadband service, provides high-speed internet access to remote and rural areas, thus bridging the digital divide and fostering socio-economic development.
  • Station Wi-Fi: Implemented free high-speed Wi-Fi at over 6,000 railway stations across India, enhancing passenger experience and providing digital inclusion to millions of commuters.
  1. Modernization of Railway Communication Systems:
    • Optical fiber network: enhanced and expanded the optical fiber network, ensuring robust and reliable communication infrastructure for Indian Railways and other sectors.
    • Next-Generation Network (NGN): Upgraded to NGN technology, enabling efficient voice, data, and multimedia communication over a single network, thus optimising operational costs and improving service quality.
  2. Data centers and cloud services:
    • State-of-the-art data centers: Established highly energy-efficient data centers across India, offering secure and reliable data hosting services to government and private entities.
    • RailCloud: Launched RailCloud, a cloud computing platform that provides scalable and flexible IT infrastructure to support digital transformation initiatives within Indian Railways.
  3. Partnerships and collaborations:
    • Public-private partnerships: Engaged in strategic collaborations with leading technology companies to drive innovation in telecom and IT services.
    • Partnerships: Formed partnerships to explore and implement cutting-edge technologies in areas like cybersecurity, IoT, and AI.
  1. Enhanced security solutions:
    • Cybersecurity framework: Developed a comprehensive cybersecurity framework and SOC to protect critical infrastructure and data from cyber threats.
    • Surveillance systems: Implemented advanced surveillance systems, including CCTV cameras with facial recognition technology, at railway stations and premises to enhance security and safety.

 

How does RailTel prioritise sustainability and environmental conservation in its operations?


RailTel is committed to sustainability and environmental conservation:

  1. Energy efficiency in data centers:
    • Award-winning efforts: RailTel has been recognised with the “Best in India Energy Efficiency Award” for its continuous efforts to reduce carbon footprints through energy-efficient practices in its data centers.
    • Green technologies: Adoption of advanced cooling systems, energy-efficient hardware, and renewable energy sources to minimise energy consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  2. Participation in Swachh Bharat Mission:
    • Cleanliness drives: Actively participates in the Swachh Bharat Mission by organising cleanliness drives in and around railway stations, offices, and other premises.
    • Awareness campaigns: Conducts awareness campaigns to educate employees and the public on the importance of cleanliness and hygiene, contributing to a cleaner and healthier environment.
  3. Tree plantation initiatives:
    • Nationwide tree plantations: RailTel conducts tree plantation drives across all regions and territorial offices, contributing to reforestation and environmental conservation.
    • Green office spaces: Promotes green office spaces by incorporating indoor plants, reducing paper usage, and implementing waste management practices.

RailTel’s dedication to sustainability and environmental conservation not only enhances its operational efficiency but also contributes to a better and greener future for the communities it serves.

 

Are there any specific initiatives or practices that RailTel has adopted to minimise its environmental footprint?

  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): RailTel prioritises sustainability through its CSR initiatives, focusing on environmental conservation, energy efficiency, and community development.
  • Sustainable practices: Integrates sustainable practices into its operations, such as reducing energy consumption, minimising waste, and promoting the use of eco-friendly materials.
  • Continuous improvement: Committed to continuous improvement in sustainability performance by setting clear targets, monitoring progress, and adopting innovative solutions to environmental challenges.
  • Employee engagement: Encourages employee participation in sustainability programs and provides training on best practices for environmental conservation.

 

Can you share any notable community engagement or CSR initiatives undertaken by RailTel?

 RailTel, as an organisation, believes in putting sincere effort towards societal development along with growing business. RailTel’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects are carefully curated in line with the government guidelines to cater to marginalised sections of society. Health, nutrition, education, and economic empowerment of women and children have always been at the core of the CSR activities of RailTel. 

  • AkanshaSuper-30 at Dehradun, Uttarakhand – free coaching, boarding and lodging for IIT’s and other premier engineering institutes
  • Health Center for women, girls and needy people in Purulia, West Bengal
  • Congenital heart disease treatment for underprivileged children at subsidised rates in Gurugram Haryana
  • Midday meal in school at Mathura, Uttar Pradesh
  • Jal Sanchay, restoration of water bodies, tree plantation in Karauli, Rajasthan

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