Indian Railways May Merge IT Arm With RailTel: Exclusive
People walk past a train that sits parked in a rail yard outside the Nagpur Railway Station in Nagpur, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Indian Railways May Merge IT Arm With RailTel: Exclusive

Indian Railways is looking to merge its information technology arm with RailTel Corporation of India Ltd. ahead of an initial public offering of the state-owned broadband, telecom and multimedia services provider, a senior government official told BloombergQuint.

A proposal to disband the Centre for Railway Information Systems and merge its operations with RailTel is being discussed by the Ministry of Railways, the official said on condition of anonymity as the talks aren’t final yet.

The ministry is now looking to make RailTel a single platform for IT and technology-related services, the person said. CRIS, according to the person, had become an unstable organisation with no proper business model. The move is also expected to ramp up the value of RailTel, which is expected to launch its IPO soon after it received the cabinet’s approval last year.

An email sent to the Ministry of Railways remained unanswered.

“It makes sense to merge it [CRIS] with RailTel as it’s into hardware of information and communication, while CRIS is into developing software related products for Indian Railways,” Surendra Singh Khurana, former chairman of the railway board, the apex body of the railways ministry, told BloombergQuint over the phone. “It will be more systematic.”

Setup in 1986, CRIS was assigned with the task of implementing freight operations system for Indian Railways, set up and provide technical support and maintain infrastructure for IT-based system. Over the years, the department had built passenger ticket reservation system, now merged with Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation, unreserved ticketing and crew management systems, among others.

The firm has nearly 1,600 employees, the official quoted above said.

RailTel, on the other hand, is a Miniratna PSU under the administrative control of the railway ministry. It provides telecom services to government departments and owns a pan-India optic fibre network on exclusive Right of Way along railway tracks. The company provides broadband telecom and multimedia network across the country.

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