The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rail travel at the press of a mobile button

New Delhi, Jan. 30: The railway is going mobile — no pun intended.

Passengers will be able to buy tickets through mobile phones on the Net. The railway has been running a service since the latter half of last year for making bookings through the computer on the Net with the ticket being delivered at the address given by the passenger.

The service is available on

“The expansion of communication aids and the extraordinary penetration of mobile phones in the common man’s lifestyle cannot be ignored by the railway,” railway minister Nitish Kumar said, presenting an interim budget today.

How to book a ticket'

You must have a mobile phone with Internet browsing facility. At the moment, there are seven million such subscribers.

Once you connect to the railway web page — the site has not been created yet — it will seek the passenger’s name, age, train, destination, date of journey and the address at which the ticket is to be delivered.

An SMS will be sent seeking payment through a credit card. Punch the credit card numbers and the confirmation will be instant. The ticket will be delivered at the destination. The service is expected to begin in a month.

For bookings through computers now, payment is also made by credit card at a service charge of 1.8 per cent plus Rs 50 for the delivery of the ticket.

There is a question in the minds of many about the security of credit card numbers. Possibly keeping that in view, the railway is starting a pilot project where payments can be made to the ticket inspector on the train.

Bookings will be made on the Net and passengers will be able to take a printout of the ticket from the computer itself. To begin with, the service will be available only for Shatabdi Express trains.

Cancellations, however, will be done only at public reservation system counters.

A payment option is under discussion with mobile phone service providers where the ticket price will be realised through the monthly bills of the subscriber. Sources in AirTel and Hutch confirmed that talks were under way.

Kumar also announced a scheme by which a passenger will get an SMS if a train is rescheduled by over 30 minutes. The service will be provided for the Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Jan Shatabdi trains to begin with.

The minister unveiled an incentive plan for regular travellers that is modelled on the frequent-flier scheme in airlines.

Frequent travellers on Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Jan Shatabdi trains in the First AC, Second AC and chair-car categories will get complimentary trips. The complimentary trip will be offered based on the number of journeys undertaken in one year by the passenger registered to avail of the benefit.

From July 1, all trains will have marshals to provide security to passengers who are often harassed by ticketless goons. The marshals will have the power to arrest and prosecute miscreants who commit minor offences.

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