By Anil Kumar Saxena
Indian Railways continuously strive to provide comfortable and affordable travel experience to its passengers. Following steps/initiatives have been taken in this direction:
Proliferation of E-Ticketing: Owing to liberalization of norms, increase of booking hours and increased convenience, the percentage of tickets being electronically booked is progressively increasing and is currently about 45 per cent of total Passenger Reservation System (PRS) tickets booked. On an average, 3.65 lakh reserved tickets are being booked through internet daily.
Ticketing Through Mobile Phone: E-tickets can also be booked through the mobile phone by downloading software from Indian Railways Catering & Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) website to the mobile phone. Further since February 2012, passengers booking e-tickets need not take a print-out of the Electronic Reservation slip (ERS) and instead display authorized SMS sent by IRCTC containing all vital details on laptops/palmtops/mobile phones. They are also required to carry their valid photo-id in original. This is a passenger friendly and an eco-friendly measure.
Ticketing Through SMS: In order to improve access and tap the potential of mobile phone market, a pilot project of SMS-based ticketing through non-internet based mobile phones has been launched by IRCTC on July 1, 2013.
Tatkal Facilitation: In order to improve accessibility of Tatkal tickets, the timing of opening of reservation of Tatkal tickets has been shifted to 1000 hours on the previous day of journey instead of 0800 hours, since 10.07.2012. Further, no authorized agents, including agents of IRCTC and RTSAs/RTAs are allowed to book Tatkal tickets from 10:00 hours to 12:00 hours.
Diversification of Booking Modes
roliferation through Tie-up with other institutions (Post offices): PRS terminals are being provided in Post Offices for which MOU has been signed with Department of Posts. About 249 Post offices currently have this facility.
Reduction of pressure through Automation: Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (AVTMs) have been introduced to facilitate sale of unreserved tickets and reduce the pressure at the UTS counters. Incentives are offered to passengers for using Smart Cards at ATVMs. 811 ATVMs are functional, at present. Further, in order to benchmark Indian ticketing-facilitation initiatives with Global Best Practices, a pilot project of Coin/Currency Operated ATVM has also been made operational in Mumbai.
Alternate Mode of Sales for Unreserved tickets: With a view to facilitate issuing of unreserved tickets, Jansadharan Tickets Booking Sewaks (JTBS) are being appointed in city areas. They are provided UTS terminals and are allowed to realise commission from the passengers. Around 993 JTBS have been commissioned at present.
Reduction in Advance Reservation Period: The Advance Reservation Period has been reduced from 120 days to 60 days w.e.f 01.05.2013.
ID Proof Mandatory For All Reserved Classes To Prevent Misuse of Ticket – With a view to keep a check on the passengers travelling on transferred tickets, provision was already there for production of proof identity in case of e-tickets, Tatkal tickets and passengers travelling in AC classes (except 3E). The scope of this provision has been expanded and w.e.f 01.12.2012, any one of the passengers booked on a ticket for travelling in any reserved class has to produce any one of the ten prescribed proof of identity in original during the journey , failing which all the passengers are treated as travelling without ticket and charged accordingly. There is, however, no change in the condition of production of same proof of identity (in original) as indicated on the Tatkal ticket.
New Passenger Friendly Amenities
Facility of Modern Luggage Trolleys had been introduced as a pilot project for senior citizens and women passengers. These were earlier operated through Rail Yatri Sevaks. Subsequently, instructions have been issued to Zonal Railways on 03.05.2013 to hand over the Modern Luggage Trolley to licensed porters at all other stations except Howrah and Sealdah where these trolleys will continue to be operated by Rail Yatri Sevaks up to May, 2014.
Cleanliness Improvement: For improving the standards of cleanliness, Railways have been planned multi-pronged action by synergizing technology, education of Users and provision of better mechanized equipments.
Battery operated vehicles at Railway stations for disabled, old age and sick passengers. This facility is to be provided through Commercial Publicity route with no charge to be levied either from the passenger or from the Railway. The scheme which was initially started for one year had been extended further up to 26.08.2016. The facility is presently available at 25 stations.
Adarsh Stations: The scheme of Adarsh stations has already been introduced Indian Railways. Adarsh Stations are provided with basic facilities such as drinking water, adequate toilets, catering services, waiting rooms and dormitories especially for lady passengers, better signage, etc. Under this scheme, 1052 Railway Stations have so far been selected for development.
Author is the Addl. DG(PR), PIB, M/o Railways