If the Indian Railways’ latest attempts at promoting the sale of train tickets through the internet prove successful, it will virtually end the era of long lines at railway stations and travelling long distances to buy journey tickets.
It would become possible to purchase reserved tickets at neighbourhood post offices in small towns and even through government-run kiosks in villages.
After tying up with cybercafes, travel agents and banks to sell train tickets , the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has now approached the government’s postal department with an offer for reservation of tickets through its vast network of over five lakh post offices across the country.
Besides , the IRCTC has also contacted the district magistrates of 528 districts in various states asking them to explore the possibility of train tickets sale through the government-run internet kiosks that have been set up to provide public facilities to people at their doorsteps.
“ Our vision in the IRCTC is to consign the system of buying (advance) tickets at railway stations to the dustbin of history... We have a very clear thinking -- why should the customer come to us ? We should go to the customer,” explained IRCTC Managing Director P.K.Goel.
The IRCTC , which is a public sector undertaking under the Indian Railways , handles its entire catering and online ticketing operations.
Providing the e-ticketing services through its website www.irctc.co.in, the organisation accounts for over 27,000 of the 8 lakh train tickets that are booked daily.Efforts are now on to increase this number substantially and reach the target of one lakh online bookings each day, according to Goel.
He said he had recently written to the Post Master General suggesting a tie-up with IRCTC for sale of reserved train tickets at every post office where a computer set was available.An arrangement could be made to link them directly with the IRCTC website to make reservations against cash payments on a commission basis.
Goel has also written to the district magistrates of a majority of the districts in the country asking them to consider sale of railway tickets on commission basis at the internet kiosks that have been set up in various small towns and villages to provide public services.
“If they can provide space and a personal computer (PC), we will start bookings in villages from where people have to travel long distances to get their tickets reserved at the nearest railway stations,” he said, adding that this could also become a source of employment for jobless educated youth in rural areas.
The postal department is considering the proposal and a response is awaited from them as well as the districts, Goel stated.
Email Hemendra Singh Bartwal: hsbartwal@ hindustantimes.com