In what is seen as a digital makeover, Indian Railways may soon treat SMS as railway tickets.
A report in The Indian Express states that the ministry has moved a file which would replace the paper ticket with an SMS. As a result the commuters will receive an SMS each time they book a ticket at the railway counter.
According to Railway Acts, nowhere it is mentioned that a ticket has to be printed on paper. Currently, only those who buy e-tickets online get an SMS.
To make sure that the commuter receives SMS immediately after booking a ticket, the railway officials said that they will purchase premium services for this facility.
However, Railways is apprehensive that relying solely on SMS may lead to long queues as a commuter won’t leave until he or she gets an instant SMS at the counter. “That’s because the SMS will be the only proof that he has purchased a ticket,” said a senior railway official.
After the system starts functioning, it would complete the organisation’s crossover to the digital age.
The SMS tickets might carry advertisements to reduce the cost bore by the ministry and for this Railways have already started talking to advertising agencies.
The bigger plan is to eventually phase out thousands of old printers and even schedule charts that are pasted on train coaches.
Officials believe that by not printing tickets and eventually charts, Railways will save 1,200 tonnes of paper. Of the 11 lakh tickets sold every day, six lakh are paper tickets.
Another point that was raised during the discussion was that what happens if a passenger doesn’t have an mobile phone. Officials said such a passenger will get a paper ticket on request.
And, if someone loses his or her phone, a duplicate ticket will be issued after furnishing valid proof.
Prior to this, the Railways has stopped issuing freshly printed ‘cancelled tickets’ each time a ticket is cancelled. This saves them Rs 70 lakh per year.
Also, reservation charts are not being printed for one Rajdhani and one Shatabdi Express as a pilot project.