SMS alerts to passengers on train delays and setting up of 4,615 water vending machines at a number of railway stations are among the new initiatives of the Railways to improve facilities for passengers.
Minister of state for railways Manoj Sinha, while replying to questions in the Lok Sabha, indicated that SMS service on train delays is under consideration.
"There is a provision in this regard," he said when asked whether such a facility would be available to passengers on the pattern of SMS alerts about status of train bookings.
Sinha said the capacity of the e-ticket system has been expanded and now as many as 7,200 tickets can be booked per minute. Earlier, only 2,000 tickets could be booked per minute.
"In the time to come, we will increase the (ticket booking) capacity," he added.
The Railways has taken various measures to make booking or reservation of tickets easier and user friendly, he said.
Unreserved Ticketing System (UTS) counters have been provided at more than 5,800 locations and around 1,500 Automatic Ticket Vending Machines have been installed.
To another question, the Minister said as a recent initiative, water vending machines are to be set up by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation at identified railway stations to provide low cost clean drinking water.
"At present shortlisting of agencies for water vending machines has been completed. 4,615 water vending machines are to be installed in a phased manner," he said.
The estimated cost per machine is between Rs 5 lakh to Rs 7 lakh depending on the quality of parameters of raw water available at the railway station and it would require engagement of Rs 2 to 3 persons per machine.
Sinha said it is the endeavour of the railways to provide drinking water at all stations as per norms depending upon the volume of passenger traffic handled.
In water-scarcity areas where existing sources are found inadequate to meet the water requirement at stations, water supply is augmented through tankers, the minister said.
He said augmentation of passenger amenities including provision of drinking water at railway stations is a continuous process and works in this regard are undertaken as per requirement, subject to priority and availability of funds.
To a question on whether the railways is aware that touts and other unscrupulous elements have dented the ticket mechanism, Sinha replied in the negative.
"However, some instances of booking of tickets by individual for commercial gains have been reported. Several checks have been introduced to curb the problem," he said.