Tatkal booking process streamlined

Railway officials say the organization has taken several measures to prevent touts cornering berths at passenger reservation system (PRS) centres. They also say that improvements have been made to the website of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).

“Under a new system, tatkal tickets will be sold between 10am and noon,” said a railway officer. “No authorized agents, including those of the IRCTC, will be allowed to book tatkal tickets in this period the counter or online.”

He said booking periods have been segregated to ensure that reservation queues for the opening date (120 days before the date of journey) do not clash with tatkal dates. “On the IRCT website, individual users are now permitted to book only two tickets from 10am to noon. Also, only two tickets can be booked from a particular IP address in this period.”

A few days ago, Western Railway introduced the concept of self tatkal ticket counters, where a person can book tatkal tickets only for himself or if he is part of a travelling party. WR has also made photo identity cards compulsory at PRS centres for those who seek to make bookings under the tatkal scheme. “If someone is not travelling himself, but booking tickets on somebody else’s behalf, he would have to bring a self-attested photocopy of the ID of the person for whom the booking would be done,” a railway official said.

The railways is also planning to introduce biometric technology in three months in the Mumbai division, again to bar touts. To cater to demand during summer holidays, Central Railway has decided to regulate post-midnight queues outside all PRS centres.

Hand Held Terminals for TTEs likely

NEW DELHI, INDIA: After bringing revolution in Passengers Reservation System (PRS) by introducing ticket booking facility online, Indian Railways is working further to enhance comfort of passengers in its reservation system.

CIOL interacted with some senior officials of Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS), responsible for the implementation of Information and Communication Technology in Indian Railways, before CRIS Day, and learnt that CRIS is working on projects to make the services greener and simultaneously improve its various processes by deploying technology.

These processes include improvement in PRS by providing confirmation to ticket in waiting list while on the move and sending instant accommodation availability status on the running train to all stations and even the stations to which it would be approaching.

Internally known as the Hand Held Terminal (HHT) system, it has been provided to Travelling Ticket Examiners (TTEs) on a pilot basis on a total of twelve Rajadhani Express trains and some trains running between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

IRCTC had also revamped its website, to make it more user friendly. Also Oracle is helping it in freight management.

TTEs play a critical role in the efficient allotment of accommodation to the millions of passengers who reserve seats in trains.

“Use of hand-held devices by the TTEs has been envisioned as a means of easing their work, as well as making the process of berth allotment on running trains visible to passengers. It will also improve the quality of information in our databases for further analysis by our business intelligence systems,” elaborated SB Roy, Director, Passengers Reservation System (PRS), CRIS.

At present TTEs have to carry sheaves of paper reservation charts, and refer to them each time they check a passenger ticket or allot a berth on the train. With the use of hand-held devices, this paper gets eliminated.

“This will benefit passengers in two ways. First, passengers at stations that the train is yet to cross would be able to book tickets for seats that could not be occupied by the passengers who had already booked them. Secondly, passengers claiming refund against tickets that they had booked but could not travel on would be greatly facilitated,” explained Seema Kumar, General Manager in charge of the project.

Even TTEs are enjoying using these hand-held devices for ticket checking.

“With the implementation of Hand-Held Terminals on Shatabdi Trains, it has become very convenient to do ticket checking as need for carrying multiple paper charts has been completely eliminated,” said Ramesh Kumar, Deputy Train Superintendent, Shatabdti Express Trains, Delhi.

CRIS is also working on systems to provide train tickets on mobile phone of passengers.

“In case of a reserved ticket, a passenger will just have to show an SMS to the TTE instead of a paper ticket. The SMS will be sent from our server at the time of booking the ticket,” said one of the CRIS managers, who did not want to be named, and is involved in the project.

He added that since the project is under development, and will have to get the board approval, it will be too early to comment on the timeline for the availability of this facility.

With over one million passengers traveling daily on reserved tickets, the tons of paper used for printouts can be saved with this facility.

CRIS is experimenting with the system to send unreserved tickets directly to passengers’ mobile phones. Applications are being tested that would generate tickets in the mobile phone itself. However, the implementation of such systems is still some time away, since various clearances would have to be provided by the Ministry of Railways, before such tickets could become a convenient reality for the millions of passengers using train services daily.

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500 post offices to issue rail tickets soon

KOCHI: Railways will soon enter into a tie-up with the Department of Posts to issue railway tickets, both reservation and current, through 500 post offices in the State, Union Minister of State for Railways E. Ahamed has said.

He was addressing the media at the Ernakulam South railway station on Wednesday after inspecting the railway station.

Mr. Ahamed was on a four-day interactive trip, which will end in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday. Shortage of ticket counters was one of the main complaints raised with the Minister during the trip.


The Minister said public-private partnership models would be evolved for development of railway stations. Long-term partnership models, preferably for 30 or 35 years, were being considered.

Steps would also be taken to decentralise the power to release funds for development activities of railway stations. The authority to use funds for assignments like sanitation of railway stations would be given to the station managers concerned.


Role of IT in Indian Railways

For the Railways, every IT initiative has to revolve around the strategic inclusion of customers according R B Das, Group General Manager – (FOIS), CRIS

Technology Sabha, the premier e-governance event organized by the Business Publications Division (BPD) of The Indian Express Limited, is fast becoming a can’t miss event for Indian bureaucrats serious about championing the cause of IT in their respective agencies. In what was the fifth iteration of the Sabha, they came from all over the country and the congregation witnessed a mix of nearly 100 high profile government officials, vendors and technocrats from diverse backgrounds.

Organized in the laidback town of Panjim, Goa, the discussions and the debates witnessed over the course of two days were anything but laidback. The event provided a much needed platform to government officials responsible for IT, to freely discuss ideas, share experiences and learnings amongst themselves and also to do some much needed introspection to better the state of affairs.

The event began with a lamp lighting ceremony and a brief welcome address by Sandeep Khosla, VP & Head-BPD. Post this, began a stimulating presentation by R B Das, Group General Manager (FOIS), CRIS, in which he talked at length about some of the IT initiatives in the Indian Railways and the role that they have played in transforming it from a loss-making outfit into a highly profitable, well-oiled entity.

Talking about the massive infrastructure and assets owned by the Indian Railways, Das began with a historical perspective and delved deeply into how they managed it all, albeit not so efficiently with minimal IT systems in place. He alluded to their humble beginnings of automation through the setting up of EDP centers and the decision to computerize the freight information and passenger reservation systems in the early years.

According to Das, the continuous increase in passenger and freight handling requirements and the associated assets, competition from other modes of transport especially in the freight business and the overall growth of the country’s needs were the drivers that forced the railways to reassess their strategies and widen the scope of IT.

Another key factor was the strategic inclusion of the customer as an integral part of the system. Hence, it chose to design a system which matched the capabilities of internal as well as external customers. This essentially meant that the applications needed to transcend the boundaries of the Railways as an organization and went into the user domain.

Despite the fact that the freight business is the real breadwinner, for the Railways, its passengers have always been the first priority. Therefore, when it came to implementing technologies, the passenger business processes were given preference over freight.

The implementation of the Country Wide Network for Computerized Enhanced Reservation (CONCERT) was a clear indication of this fact. CONCERT integrates five regional reservation centers and contains a judicious mix of local autonomy with uniformity of business rules. Das informed that CONCERT can perform reservations for over one million seats and berths per day and is currently available for over 3,600 trains nationwide for various classes across 1,700 locations.

The other significant system implemented by the railway has been the National Train Enquiry Services (NTES), a nationwide, integrated, online information system for monitoring the running of passenger trains and providing up-to-date information regarding the arrival and departure of trains. The PRS initiatives not only benefited passengers in terms of simplifying enquiry, booking and other processes but yielded multiple benefits for the Railways as well.

The Railways could now push for optimal utilization of berths, real-time availability of accounting reports, planning through MIS, analysis of traffic patterns for better overall planning, reduction in revenue losses and savings on manpower.

In his presentation, Das took special pride in talking about UTS Thin Client, a customized product developed by CRIS. He informed that since a normal thin client needs to be connected to a server all the time, CRIS developed a thin client that does not need always-on connectivity. In fact, the UTS Thin Client is capable of working independently and in disconnected mode for 72 hours (a configurable parameter) and issue tickets. It runs a lightweight OS, trimmed version of RDBMS and application on a 144 MB Flash ROM (Disk on Chip).

Although Das talked mostly about the railways’ IT initiatives on the passenger business side, he did not fail to mention some key initiatives on the freight side. Freight Operations Information System or FOIS comprises of a variety of applications implemented by the railways to streamline freight operations and optimize the use of existing resources and bring in greater transparency to the system. The various applications in FOIS are: Rake Management System (RMS), Terminal Management System (TMS), Control Office Application (COA), Crew Management System (CMS), Automated Equipment Identifier (AEI), Revenue Accounting System (RAS) and Management Information System (MIS).

Speaking about some of the other applications the railways has in the pipeline, Das informed that the organization was currently working on a Fixed Asset Management System, Human Resource Management System, Parcel Management System, Claims Management System, and Workshop Management System and was also in the process of setting up zonal data centers.

He concluded his presentation with a proclamation that a large complex infrastructure system such as the Indian Railways could never afford to simply bring in technology for the sake of itself, but intelligent use of IT is what is delivering the real benefits.