Mobile vans to deliver train tickets

NEW DELHI: In a bid to make booking tickets more convenient, Railways are mulling introduction of mobile vans with ticketing facility.

The vans, up-linked to satellite, would be issuing railway tickets in reserved and unreserved categories primarily in rural and remote corners of the country.

“We are examining a proposal for launching mobile van service for issuing tickets at certain places,” a senior Railway Ministry official said.

“The purpose behind the system is to reach out every corner of the country. Facilities would be made available for not only reserved tickets but also for unreserved tickets,” the official said.

Railways had already announced its plan to book tickets through mobile phones. A pilot project for this is to be launched in Mumbai shortly.

“The modalities are being worked out for launching the pilot project,” he said.

In order to bring transparency, Indian Railway is also planning to display the status of the availability of tickets for reservation for important trains at the ticket counters.

Meanwhile, efforts are on to link all stations selling tickets across the country with the computerised system.

Railways have finalised a plan to add more reservation counters across the country in order to help passengers get tickets easily.

As per an estimate, there are about 1,800 such counters across various zones. As per the plan, about 500 more counters would be added and a decision in this regard is likely to be made in the upcoming Railway Budget.

The idea is to decongest the existing ticket counters so that people do not face difficulty in getting tickets, said the official.

Railways are likely to focus on passenger amenities besides revenue generation in the budget this time.

Beat the queue at stns with SMS ticket

MUMBAI: Soon, you won’t have to stand in a serpentine queue to buy a ticket for a local train ride. SMS-based mobile ticketing, set to kick-start by early April, is in its final stages of completion and will be introduced for the first time in the country on the Western Railway (WR) network.

The scheme was to become a reality in early 2009 but its launch was pushed back after WR noticed areas where some finer details needed ironing.

The biggest hurdle, said officials, was that the initial settings for the pilot project allowed only mobile users with GPRS to avail of the scheme. Also, it had another loophole-the message from a commuter could be sent anytime after boarding a train and the commuter could choose the least expensive fare. As ticket checking is difficult during peak hours, the chances of such a commuter going unnoticed are high.

Sunil Jain, WR chief commercial manager (passenger marketing), said they were addressing these concerns to rule out the possibility of misuse. “There will be a six-digit number at the booking office, displayed on a digital screen, which will keep changing. This will help prevent misuse as the commuter will have to enter the number and his/her destination to book a ticket before entering the station,” he said.

The Railway Board approved of the pilot project in December but the final guidelines regarding free power supply, space for kiosk and other issues were still awaited. “We expect the Board’s go-ahead this week. The project will take another 4-6 weeks to start,” Jain said.