Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal presented the Railway Budget 2013-14 in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian Parliament yesterday. The budget includes several new ICT initiatives to improve passengers’ experience of the Indian Railways (IR).
New e-ticketing system
A major initiative announced is the implementation of a ‘next generation’ e-ticketing system to resolve the problems of congestion on the current reservation website. IR receives 20-25 written complaints about the website per day in 2011-12.
“By the end of this calendar year, we will put in place a Next Generation e-ticketing system which will bring about a paradigm shift in internet rail ticketing by significantly improving the end user experience in respect of ease of use, response time as well as capacity”, Bansal declared.
The new system will be able to support the reservation of 7200 tickets per minute, compared to the current system’s capacity of 2000. The system will be able to handle 120,000 users simultaneously, compared to the current capacity of 40,000, and will have the capability of scaling up as demand increases.
Indian Railways is also exploring the option of making it possible to access the e-ticketing system through mobile phones and keeping the system open 23 hours a day.
The minister announced that since the Indian train enquiry system, which includes a website and a call centre, has seen overwhelming response, IR will soon roll out an SMS Alert system for passengers to receive updates on their reservation status.
Similarly, the ‘Real Time Information System’, which allows passengers to view updated information about the location of trains and the delay in departure and arrival timings, will be expanded to include additional trains.
The Minister announced that IR will make use of Aadhaar, the programme which aims to give every resident of India a unique identification number linked to their biometric information.
“The database generated can be extensively and efficiently used by railways not only to render more user friendly services such as booking of tickets, validation of genuine passengers with GPS enabled handheld gadgets in trains, but also to provide a better interface with its employees in regard to their salaries, pension, allowances”, declared Bansal.
Other measures announced in the budget included the provision of wi-fi in selected trains, the deployment of an internally-developed ‘Train Collision Avoidance System’ to increase safety, and the launch of a pilot project to allow passengers to contact on-board staff through SMS, phone calls or e-mail for prompt response to issues faced.
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