“EXPRESS-3”, the Russian and C.I.S. information, reservation and ticketing system

Mikhail Berezka, RZD

The system of electronic booking and sale of tickets “Express – 2” is used now days on Russian railways and CIS (Shortcut for Commonwealth of Independent States). The system began to operate since 1982 and it was continuously developed within the past 20 years. Some years back engineering of the new system “Express - 3" has been started. The purposes of the project "Express - 3" are illustrated on the 1-th slide. Basic distinction of the new system from the previous one is in the fact that "Express - 3" is intended not only for tickets booking and sale but as well as for passenger traffic management.

The creation of the passenger transportation management system has been aimed to reduce charges and increase incomes as well as to give new services to the passengers. Other purposes are connected to the necessity of the out-of-date equipment replacement and modern digital communication channels application.

The second slide illustrates the history of "Express" system development. The first system of electronic reservation "Express - 1" was set in operation in Moscow in 1972. It only served ticket sale from Moscow with the reservation time of 10 days before train departure. The system "Express - 1" has been in operation for 13 years and was switched off in 1985. The first typical system "Express - 2" was introduced in Moscow in 1982.

The system "Express - 2" performs tickets booking and its sale as well as reference service for passengers throughout traffic route from 45 days before arrival of a train to an assignment station. By 1989 in the territory of the former USSR 15 (from 16 stipulated by the project) systems “Express – 2” were introduced. For the following 10 years the amount of the regional system centres “Express – 2” has reached 29. They serve 11 states of the former USSR, about 9000 terminals and 1000 automated workplaces for timetable preparation, ticket sale management and analysis of passenger traffic. The system “Express – 3” is an evolutionary development of system “Express – 2” and many functions for passenger traffic management already have been working in both systems.

The system "Express - 3" consists of the two parts. The first one is essentially new. That is the uniform analytical database of the Russian railways, in which all travel documents and information of the executed train and car runs are registered. This database began working in 2001. Traffic data for Russian railways comes into the database from all working systems "Express - 2".

The second part of the system is actually service for passengers (or complex for the real time orders processing). This year in January the system "Express - 3" was set in operation for passenger service in Moscow.

The chief designer of all the three systems Express " is Boris Marchuk.

The topology of the system “ Express” is illustrated on the 3-th slide. At present only one system "Express - 3" is set in operation in Moscow. It is supposed to introduce 7 systems "Express - 3" on the Russian railways, which will carry out functions of the 15 existing systems "Express - 2". The Kazakhstan railways also plan to unite three regional centres into one. There are now negotiations in process for introduction of the system "Express - 3" in the CIS and Baltic countries. Ukraine has developed the copy of the system "Express " under the name "Express – U3" which is operating now in Kiev. The others five Ukraine centres exploit the system "Express - 2". The system "Express " is connected to the European railways with the help of interaction of the Moscow centre with system "KURS-90". In one month the direct channel Moscow - Helsinki will be set in operation, the interaction on which is organized on TCP/IP protocol similarly to the architecture principles of HOSA.

The 4-th slide illustrates the transitive period from the system "Express - 2" to the system "Express - 3". At present 60 % of the terminal equipment park is replaced on the Russian railways. The new terminals allow connection both under the old protocol BSC-3, and on TCP/IP. However, there is a lot of old terminals still, besides not everywhere there is an opportunity for connection of new terminals through the data transfer network. Therefore the old system "Express - 2" is kept for the transitive period/ The system performs only inquiries reception functions from the old system of data teleprocessing. The received inquiries are transferred into the system "Express - 3", and the answers come back after processing. The terminals are connected directly to the system "Express - 3" through the protocol TCP/IP. The real time database containing the time-table and the information for reservation, is managed by the system "Express - 3". The information of the made out documents and sent cars comes to the analytical database "Express - 3" from a complex of “Online-Express-3” and from systems "Express - 2" of other regions. Automated workplaces in all regions of Russia have access to the analytical database through a network TCP/IP RZD. The automated workplaces operate on WEB-technology basis.

The functional subsystems “Express - 3" are listed on the 5-th slide. The online subsystems complex includes the following:

Within the framework of the analytical database the following subsystems are operating:

The system “Express – 3”, as well as the system "Express - 2", will develop continuously. The 6-th slide illustrates directions of a subsystem development for ticket booking and sale. The basic problem of ticket –sale operations is the opportunity of abusings both by attendants, and by users. There are plans to introduce the automated control system for a travel document at all stages of its life for duly detection and elimination of abusings . The travel document contains two bar codes. One bar code is put in a printing house, and the second one is put during printing of the travel document in cash desk. With the help of reading of these codes it is possible to establish an origin and authenticity of the travel document. Such control is already carried out at the stage of ticket sale and return, and in the near future it will be carried out also while boarding a train, control in a train and after returning the car to the depot by reading the travel document stubs.

The subsystem of traffic management (7-th slide) includes all kinds of the economic and statistical analysis of traffic, involving elements for passenger flow forecasting and behavior modeling of users at the tariff change.

The 8-th slide illustrates the realization of the purposes and tasks of the project "Express - 3" by the end of 2001. The uniform analytical database of the Russian railways for passenger traffic is created. It contains the complete year information, about 120 millions travel documents and 3.5 millions car runs. The aggregated information is collected in data warehouse. The time of information storage is equal to 12 years. On the basis of an analytical database the following tasks of traffic management are being solved

The test operation of the system was carried out in 3 regional centres (Moscow, St. Petersburg and Rostov), which has confirmed serviceability of the system. The complex “EXPRESS-3-online” using mainframe IBM 9672 R36 provides 34 transactions per second. The maximal capacity in Moscow in summer period is equal to 25-28 transactions per second.

The information service for clients is provided through Internet. The information about suburban traffic is collected from turnstile systems at stations of Moscow. The introduction of new technologies for the control of the machine-readable forms of travel documents is begun.

The system "Express " is a complex system for passenger service. It includes means for decentralized timetable preparation, its publication and information service for users. A cashier does not need to address for help information to other systems. A cashier receives all the information from the system "Express ". The 9-th slide illustrates the technology of preparation of the information for a timetable. At the first stage each regional centre transfers the information for a train timetable on its track section to all other centres, on which passes this train. At the second stage the region of a train departure carries out collection of the received information, including the information on through- cars sent with the given train. Then the centre of a train departure transfers the complete information about train to all centres of the system "Express". Thus each centre "Express " has information of all trains of the Russian railways and CIS railways, and not just about trains that pass through this centre.

At the fourth stage train arrangement is defined in the region of a train departure. The train arrangement is intended for booking and the train then) is included into the sale database. The train arrangement is also sent to Moscow for its inclusion into analytical database. And at last the information about all trains is monthly formed in Moscow for its transfer to the European timetable centre TLC for distribution of an offline-information about timetables through Internet. Unfortunately this information does not include yet timetable of suburban trains. Once in a year timetables are issued on CD-disks and in the form of a book.

The access to the reference information is possible through Internet? It can be direct access to the information of the system "Express (online-access), or offline-access to the monthly updated time-table without the reference to the system "Express". In case of offline access the only information available is about timetables. In case of online access information about timetable, travel cost and availability of seats is accessible. The 10-th slide shows the addresses of access for such services. In the near future realization of the order of the travel documents through Internet with the subsequent delivery to a client or receiving it in a pay desk is planned .The task of travel documents selling through Internet is now under consideration