New Delhi: The Indian Railways plans to set up a disaster management system that can allow its passenger reservation system (PRS) to function even after a complete breakdown of the existing ticketing infrastructure in the wake of a disaster.

Around 300 million tickets are booked through the system every year. The railways ferries over six billion passengers every year.

Currently, the railways has back-up systems for each of its five main servers across the country which form the core of PRS, but these are located in the respective regions. There’s also an option of falling back on other main servers if there’s a partial shutdown, said an official with the centre for railway information system (CRIS), who didn’t want to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

The five main servers and its back-up systems are located in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Secunderabad.

PRS has served the railways for well over 20 years, but the problem with the existing back-up servers is that “if there is a power grid failure then the back-up (servers) situated in the same area will also be affected," the official added.

The fact that the main servers depend on each another, he said, is also a problem.

“This is why we are setting up another dedicated back-up (server system)," the official said.

Customer-friendly: Ticket counter at New Delhi Railway Station. The pilot project for the back-up is being carried out by Northern Railway. Rajeev Dabral /Mint

The need for a specialized disaster recovery system was felt all the more after the PRS server situated in Mumbai came to a halt for a few hours last year, throwing the ticketing process out of gear.

“These back-up servers too would run into a problem if, say, the power grid for that entire district was to shut down. The disaster recovery system would continuously be fed real-time information from central servers," the official said.

The disaster management back-up servers are being set up for unreserved ticketing systems as well, the official added.

The pilot project is being carried out for Northern Railway and it will soon be extended to other zones.

Northern Railway is expected to spend around Rs37 crore on the project.

“It has always been felt that the ministry needs to evolve a mechanism that would prevent a complete failure of the ticketing system in any part of the country. Therefore, there is a move to increase the number of back-ups for the PRS," said R. Sivadasan, former Railway Board financial commisioner.