IRCTC keen to sell tickets via SMS

Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has proposed an early approval of its project on booking of rail ticket through SMS. The IRCTC told the Rail Ministry that this option is the best one to relieve pressure on the e-ticketing system.

Booking through SMS will entail the introduction of M-wallet. This would be like a pre-paid mobile recharge voucher and would be available at mobile recharge retail outlets. The Inter Bank Mobile Payment System (IMPS) would be the other option of payment. In the latter case, the IRCTC will book ticket as soon as the train fare is deducted from the bank account.

The corporation’s proposal arose at a meeting on Monday called by Railway Minister C P Joshi to review e-ticketing. In its presentation, the corporation elaborated on the constraint and challenges that e-ticket booking is facing.

According to IRCTC, ticket-booking through Internet has limited scope of expansion and IRCTC was already working on expansion proposal. It informed the minister that the capacity of the server was being increased with the help of the Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS).

However, the public sector arm of the railways pleaded for an early adoption of booking through SMS to lessen the burden on ticket-booking through Internet. According to IRCTC, the huge mobile network across the country would help this project operate in rural areas and also, it was easy to operate than the Internet.

Booking through SMS on the mobile phone will require collaboration with mobile phone service providers and they will issue vouchers to be used by the customers. The corporation has set a target of booking of 7,200 tickets per minute by the end of this year. At present, it is booking 2,000 tickets per minute. Last year, it booked about 31 crore tickets. It sold 55 per cent of the tickets at counters, 37 per cent online and eight per cent through agents.