Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav has often talked about raising the standard of Indian Railways so as to compete with the airlines. And the next step the Railways has taken shows just that.
If things work out as planned, then standing in long, crowded queues for tickets may be passé as travellers will now be able to book tickets at their nearest petrol pumps and LPG distribution outlets.
An MoU for setting up of e-ticketing facility at petrol pumps and LPG distributors across the country was on Monday inked between the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited.
The service, which will be implemented in phases across 7700 centres all over India, will begin shortly in BPCL outlets in major cities.
"We will have 35 centres for e-tickets by January 31, which will go up to 100 centres by March," IRCTC Managing Director Dr PK Goel said.
The first phase includes setting up of 38 outlets across seven major cities. New Delhi will have 11 outlets, while Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata will have six each.
There will also be five outlets in Secunderabad, three in Bangalore and one in Pune.
The e-tickets are also likely to be cheaper as service tax on them will be relatively lower than on normal tickets.
"The partnership is a great beginning and will benefit the common Indian in the long run," said BPCL Executive Director (Retail) Sanjay Krishnamurthi.
He also specified certain criteria for such centres, saying that they should be centrally located, should be running reasonably well and should have IT-savvy staff.
The service will first be provided across petrol pumps by March and will then be made available at LPG distribution centres as well.
On being specifically asked, Dr Goel said that the partnership with BPCL was not an exclusive one.
"Our sole vision is aapka ticket aapke dwaar and we are in talks with other such companies as well for taking this effort further."
Over 1,500 agents have already been booked for this endeavour and the number is likely to cross 5,000 by the time the service begins.