Railways goes Full Steam on Cashless Transactions, POS Machines deployed

New Delhi: In a bid to promote cashless transactions at computerised reservation counters, Indian Railways has quickly embarked upon installation of Point of Sale (POS) machines at major railway stations across across the Zonal Railways to enable the passengers to use debit/credit cards for ticket booking.

The Ministry of Railways has announced that at least 10,000 POS machines would be installed at reservation counters in association with the State Bank of India in the next couple of days; and surprisingly the Ministry of Railways started deploying the machines in an express speed!

Now that the demonetised Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes are not accepted by the railways, passengers would have to use Rs 2,000, Rs 100 or other legal tender for purchasing tickets.

Though the new version of Rs 500 has been released, the number of notes in circulation is not much in this part of the country. “There is a steady increase in the number of cashless transactions now. Since there is no service charge applicable, passengers would only have to pay the actual charges. Upon cancellations, the refund would be reversed to the card used to buy the ticket,” a senior railway official said on Monday.

After Passenger Reservation System (PRS) terminals get covered by adequate POS machines, the focus would shift to unreserved ticket counters and suburban ticketing system.

“The Prime Minister has announced a 0.5 per cent discount on monthly or season tickets over suburban railway network if the payment is made on digital mode. This will come into effect from January 1, 2017, benefiting over 80 lakh passengers using monthly/seasonal tickets on suburban railway,” said the official, quoting Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s tweet that shift to digital model of payment would mean reduction of cash requirement by Rs. 1,000 crore per year.

If the sale of petrol and diesel becomes cashless, state-run oil companies will shoulder a yearly burden of Rs 2,400 crore because of the 0.75 per cent discount offered and Indian Railways also to stump up Cashless Freebies. IRCTC may have to spend Rs 25.2 crore to provide free insurance to customers who buy tickets online. “For the time being, IRCTC will absorb it. The cost will come to around 70 paise per ticket,” said a railway official. The railway subsidiary may also have to absorb the 5 per cent discount for catering, accommodation and retiring rooms to customers paying online.

The Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) has sent advisory to all zonal railways on the working arrangement with the State Bank of India with regard to the use of POS machines, railway sources added.

South Central Railway:

In view of the recent decision of the government to promote cashless transactions, South Central Railway has initiated a step forward by installing 109 Point of Sale machines at various Booking Counters across the Zone for purchase of reserved tickets through all types of credit/debit and RuPay cards. There will be no additional charge on purchase and cancellation of tickets.

This facility is available at 30 locations in Twin Cities including all MMTS stations namely Lingampally, Chandanagar, Hafeezpet, Hitech City, Borabanda, Bharatnagar, Fatehnagar, Nature Cure Hospital, Sanjeevaiah Park, James Street, Sitafalmandi, Arts College, Jamai Osmania, Vidyanagar, Malakpet, Dabirpura, Yakutpura, Huppuguda, Falaknuma, Lakdikapul, Khairatabad, Necklace Road along with Secunderabad, Hyderabad, Begumpet and Kacheguda railway stations. This facility is also available at PRS centres located at High Court, Telangana Assembly, Mehidipatnam, Zonal Railway Training Institute Moula Ali.

In addition the Point of Sale machines are also installed at 31 locations in the jurisdiction of Vijayawada Division, 17 locations in Guntakal Division, 10 locations in Nanded Division, 03 locations in Guntur Division. Excluding MMTS stations in Twin Cities 13 locations in Secunderabad Division and  05 locations in Hyderabad Divisions have been provided with Point of Sale machines.

As regards MMTS stations at Secunderabad, in order to issue reserved tickets through credit/debit cards, PoS machines have been installed at all MMTS stations in the Twin Cities including Secunderabad, Hyderabad, Begumpet and Kacheguda stations. Further these machines will also be installed at all important stations of South Central Railway in the next couple of days. All types of credit/debit cards including RuPay cards will be accepted for purchase of reserved tickets at these booking counters.

Southern Railway:

While POS machines were already available at 21 locations, the zone has added 31 more now in Chennai, Coimbatore, Tiruchi and Madurai divisions. Railway officials said the target was 300 POS machines by the end of January 2017.  Palakkad Railway division has started installing Point of Sale (POS) machines at various locations to allow transactions using debit/ credit cards. The Palakkad division on Monday introduced additional POS machines at Kozhikode and Mangaluru central passenger reservation centres, a news release issued here said. These POS terminals are in addition to the machines (one each) already functioning at these centres. Further, POS machines will be provided at twenty locations in the division within the next three days.

The reservation centres where the POS machines will be installed are Pollachi, Palakkad Town, Palakkad Junction, Ottappalam, Shoranur, Angadippuram, Malappuram, Tirur, Feroke, Satellite PRS Counter at Kozhikode Medical College, Wayanad, Badagara, Mahe, Tellicherry, Kannur, Payyannur, Kanhangad, Kasargod, Mangaluru Junction and Mangaluru Satellite Counter (functions near Mangluru Corporation Office).

The scheme will be extended to Integrated Passenger Reservation and Unreserved ticketing system counters in the next stage.

Northeast Frontier Railway:

Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) has introduced the system of issuing PRS tickets through credit and debit card transaction.

The first machine was installed at PRS Kamakhya on December 12 and made operational from today, said NFR Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) Pranav Jyoti Sharma.

“With this, the passengers now can purchase reserved tickets by swapping the card as per the tie-up with State Bank of India (SBI). A total of 237 PRS having 315 counters will be provided with Point of Sale (POS) machines, for which necessary intimation has been given to SBI,” he said.

The Chief General Manager of SBI visited the Kamakhya station today along with railway officials and said that seamless operation will be provided at each location.

The POS machine provided is based on GPS technology and no telephone connection is required. The machine can work for a period of six hours at a stretch without electricity. POS machines will be installed in a phased manner.

“The important PRS will be covered first. And thereafter the other stations will be provided with this facility,” Sharma said.

In the wake of the Central government’s demonetisation drive and its efforts towards a less-cash and cashless economy, Guwahati city, too, is gearing up for embracing cashless transactions in a more inclusive way.

Yesterday, Kamrup Metro Deputy Commissioner Dr M Angamuthu had told this newspaper that steps would be taken to educate citizens, especially women, students and small business owners, on various digital financial tools like e-wallet, POS, unified payments interface (UPI), and others.

He said the exercise will include effective training involving citizens’ services centres for all and gaon panchayat and ward-wise training programme for PRI and other public representatives, as well as beneficiary-oriented training programme for government scheme-linked beneficiaries. Wide publicity and linking various social media tools will be involved in the exercise, he said.

Western Railway: 

In a bid to promote cashless transactions, Rajkot division of Western Railway has introduced point-of-sale (PoS) machines for ticket bookings at three railway stations — Rajkot, Jamnagar and Hapa from Monday. Rajkot railway officials said, these PoS machines will facilitate cashless transactions using debit or credit cards for the travellers.

“Two PoS machines each have been installed at the reservation centre in Rajkot and Jamnagar and one has been installed at Hapa railway station near Jamnagar,” said a railway official. Railways have entered into an agreement with the SBI for providing PoS facility.

Once the customer swipes the card at PoS machine, amount is debited from customer’s account and a receipt is issued to customer. The original receipt is retained by the reservation clerk,” said an official.

Moreover, railway officials added that PoS machines will soon be provided at reservati-on centres in Dwarka and Surendranagar stations. Accordi-ng to estimate, 200 bookings are reported per day at each booking counter in Rajkot and Jamnagar.

Eastern Railway

The Eastern Railways has entered into an agreement with country’s largest lender State Bank of India to purchase and install 815 PoS machines at the ticket booking counters under its jurisdiction, a railway official said on Tuesday.

“We have installed 10 machines already. Our plan is to cover all the passenger reservation system (PRS) counters of Kolkata and suburbs in the next seven days,” said Eastern Railways’ Financial Adviser and Chief Accounts Officer Dipankar Lahiri.

He said that all the PRS counters under Eastern Railways, from Bihar’s Bhagalpur to the Bangladesh border, would be covered, and all the unreserved ticketing system (UTS) counters would also be brought in the cashless system.

“Installing of PoS at all the PRS and UTS counters will be completed by January 15, 2017,” he said, adding that the Railways will pay Rs 3.74 lakh to SBI for purchasing and installation purpose.

In the second phase, the Eastern Railways will buy machines to keep as a stand-by at all the points where tickets are sold, Lahiri said. Ticket bookers will have to pay 0.75 percent additionally in case of booking through debit card and they need to pay 1.5 percent in case of booking through credit card over and above the cost of the tickets.

“No charge will be levied till December end but charges will be imposed from January,” he said.

“Depending on the terminal, monthly charge per machine will vary from Rs 220 to Rs 400 which is very nominal,” said SBI’s Chief General Manager (Kolkata circle) Partha Pratim Sengupta.

Sengupta also said the bank has supplied 10 PoS to South-Eastern Railways and will supply 158 more to them.

South Eastern Railway

Ranchi, Hatia, Tatanagar, Dhanbad and other busy railway stations of Jharkhand are set to promote cashless ticketing at its reservation counters from January. Passengers undertaking local and overnight train journeys can pay for their tickets through debit and credits using point of sale (PoS) machines, which will be placed in every reservation counter. The railways will also continue to accept the paper currencies.

The Ranchi divisions of the South Eastern Railways (SER) has forwarded a list of its requirement of PoS machines to the zonal headquarter in Kolkata on Saturday. The Adra and Chakradharpur divisions of SER and Dhanbad division of ECR, which together with Ranchi control the railway network of Jharkhand, are expected to follow suit by this week.

“We have forwarded the details of 43 railway stations which fall in our jurisdiction. Stations such as Ranchi, Hatia, Muri and Jhalda will be equipped with PoS machines but it will still take about a month for the service to become operational,” Neeraj Kumar, the Senior Division Commercial Manager of Ranchi on Sunday.

The Indian Railways had issued circulars to each of its railway divisions across India late last week and has sought a compiled figure of reservation counters in all their stations. In Jharkhand, the South Eastern Railways (SER) and the East Central Railways (ECR) have asked their respective divisions to compile and submit their respective requirements.

Railway sources said, the facility cannot be started before one month because of “technical intricacies”. A senior officer of the SER division said, “Unlike the PoS machines that are being independently used in shops and malls, our PoS machines will have to be integrated with the central ticketing server of the railways and the government exchequer software. These PoS machines will have to be calibrated with the postal codes of each railway station. This will take time.”

Furthermore, the railway also has to make the system accurate. “At times, the PoS machines deduct money but the purchase does not happen. Passengers can lose money this way. So it has to be sorted out,” a senior official of Ranchi division said.

“It also has to respond to situations like one passenger booking journey tickets in between New Delhi and Guwahati from Ranchi station,” he added. The divisions will be assisted by experts from a PSU bank to set up these PoS machines.

Central Railway:

Central Railway has stepped up efforts to go cashless by installing Point of Sale (POS) machines at Passenger Reservation System (PRS) Centres across Mumbai division to facilitate transactions via debit and credit cards.

Central Railway Mumbai’s DRM Ravinder Goyal tweeted, “Total 51 POS installed on PRS windows at 20 stations, including Thane, Dombivli, Kalyan, Chembur, Vashi and Panvel stations.”

WR has also began installing POS at various PRS Centres across Mumbai division since Sunday.

WR is going to provide 41 terminals at 26 stations. It has already began installing POS machines provided by State Bank of India (SBI) at 7 stations, which includes 3 at Malad, 2 at Vasai and one each at Kandivali and Jogeshwari.

On December 8, government on completion of demonitisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, had announced that it will provided discount of 0.5 per cent.