Book by mobile phone, use smart cards, navigate touch-screen terminals to check reservation status and watch cool LED displays on large screens in railway stations.
Railway Minister Lalu Prasad may be speaking up for the poor in his rhetoric-laden speeches, but there is a high-tech passenger-friendly side to the Rail Budget he unveiled on Tuesday.
Central Railway’s Mumbai Suburban Service is running a trial service where travelers would be able to buy rail ticket, monthly season tickets and platform tickets on a Smart Card.
“This ticket distribution scheme will be extended to the Western Railway and other suburban services after the completion of the project,” the minister said.
The smart card called ‘Go Mumbai Card’ is already facilitating bus travelers to buy tickets for local BEST services using the card.
As is the case with the smart cards that commuters of the metro rail in New Delhi are familiar with, there would be a service fee that one would have to pay for buying and recharging the card.
The Railway Ministry also plans to link its enquiry
call centres with a control
office and the National Train Enquiry System to provide online information
about the arrival/departure details of trains on a real-time basis. Further, the minister said that online coach indication displays which would help passengers know the time of arrival of approaching stations, as in the case in airlines, will be installed in overnight mail and express trains by March 2009.
In a move that will facilitate those seeking information about reservation, arrival and departure details of trains, the ministry has decided to install LED displays across top 100 railway stations across the country by the end of the next financial year.