Passengers using the Indian railways can soon books meals online using a new meal-booking platform, buy tickets for unreserved seats using their mobile, get PNR status updates through SMS, and also find more cash accepting Automatic Ticket Vending Machines near them.
These services and more are part of a slew of announcements that Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge had presented in the interim railway budget today.
While passenger and freight rates were unchanged, he did announce the launch of 17 new premium trains, 39 express trains and ten passenger trains. The overall tone of the budget and lack of action also did not cheer the market. Railway stocks dropped in trade after the announcement.
The announcement of the new measures to modernise and use technology in train services will be helpful to passengers. If implemented and maintained properly that is.
Here are the tech services that the interim railway budget promises:
Proliferation of cash accepting Automatic Ticket Vending Machines;
Ticketing on mobile phones in the unreserved segment;
PNR status update to passengers through system generated SMS;
An update for train running information; Online booking of retiring rooms at all important stations
Online booking of meals on trains for selected en-route stations (this does validate hypothesis of startups like TravelKhana)
Introduction of e-forwarding note and electronic transmission of railway receipts for freight customers, which will enable users to carry out freight business with Railways from the comfort of their homes and offices
Computerisation of claims settlement process on Indian Railways
In the last one year, the Indian Railways has introduced an e-auction model to dispose off scrap, introduced an SMS based complaint booking service, launched SMS based train ticketing systems and launched an e-commerce partnership with Yebhi.