Rail booking boost for villages

When chief minister Nitish Kumar was heading the railway ministry, he had a vision to install Internet ticket counters in rural Bihar. His dream is about to be fulfilled.

The Indian Railways has decided to open 400 Internet ticket counters in the next five months in Bihar with the help of Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC). It has come to light that Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee took the initiative to execute the plan before leaving the railway ministry.

Sources said the decision to start the Internet ticket counters was taken in the wake of frequent complaints lodged by people from rural areas regarding the unavailability of tickets.

Patna IRCTC regional manager Anand Kumar Jha said: “Indian Railways has received several complaints from villagers on procuring tickets. So, the railway has asked us to set up ticket counters in the rural areas. We will install 400 ticket counters in the next five months with an aim to provide railway tickets to villagers who otherwise need to travel to the city to buy them.”

Jha said: “Rural areas will have one ticket booking counter at every 5km. In the beginning, the counters will be installed at Darbhanga, Katihar, Bhagalpur, Rohtas, Samastipur and Hajipur regions and would benefit around 1,000 villages. Later, the facility would be extended to the other places.”

Jha also put all worries regarding the possible inability of villagers to fill up the forms mandatory to purchase the Internet tickets to rest. He said: “There would be dedicated IRCTC employees, who will be assigned to fill the forms on behalf of the villagers. The employees would also provide the villagers with all kind of information, including train schedule and timings. Apart from booking regular tickets, the villagers can also book tour packages like Bharat Darshan and Bharat Tirth, offered by the IRCTC.”

The service would be a boon to villagers who will no longer have to travel miles to book tickets and would receive them at their doorsteps.

“Often, people living in the cities are unable to send train tickets to their parents in the village. But now the parents just need to visit the nearest ticket counter in the village with the PNR number and get a printout of the ticket.” said Jha.

Although the IRCTC officials accepted that starting the facility was not going to be an easy job, they said it would be accomplished at any cost. “In rural areas, the most common problem is electricity. So, there would a dedicated line for the Internet service and power back-up for at least 10 hours. The service would be available from 6am to 10pm daily,” said Jha.