Bringing smart solutions that deliver convenience, railway ministry introduced mobile-based application for booking unreserved tickets for travelling on New Delhi – Palwal section of northern railway. The section covers 11 stations over 57 kms of distance. Passengers on this route will save time by avoiding long queues at the ticket counters. Designed and developed by center for railways information system (CRIS), the UTS app can be downloaded for android and windows smart phones.
The app works like a smart card used for metro rides in Delhi. Like a smart card, you need to load your railway wallet, with which payment is processed. You can check your balance in the wallet by clicking on ‘wallet balance’ option. However, to load it you need to go to a UTS counter at the station. Or, it can be recharged through railways’ website, which then asks for high-speed internet connectivity. Sadly, the application does not allow users to recharge their wallet using the app itself, directly through a debit or credit card, or net banking system.
The feature could have made the application an easy go for rushing passengers. To begin with, one has to register by going through a four-step process. In addition to mobile number and details like name of the user and city name, you have to confirm your identity by providing details of any ID card in the category. For this, there is an option in the app called ‘ID card type’. After clicking on it, you need to select what proof you want to provide for your identity. It ranges from PAN card to Aadhaar card to students’ ID etc.
The registration process also asks you to give your frequently travelled route. This feature will save a regular commuter, who undertake same route on a daily basis, from putting same detail every time while booking a ticket. Once the route is saved, you will only have to click on the ‘quick booking’ option for travelling a paperless journey. Once the registration process is completed, you will receive your log-in password through an SMS, with which you can book an unreserved ticket using your mobile phone. After filling details to book a ticket, a message confirming the booking will reach to your mobile screen, which will then be used as a virtual ticket to show to the TT on the journey. However, for cancelling your virtual ticket, you cannot avail for a refund.
This feature is added to the app so a user cannot take undue advantage by making a cancellation after completing the journey. Also, to ensure that a passenger has booked its ticket before boarding a train, the GPS technology-enabled app will coordinate with railway tracks on New Delhi – Palwal section, in order to check user’s location from where a ticket is booked. So, if you are trying to book a ticket after boarding a train from any station in the section, the geo-fencing that is extended to 20 meters on either sides of the tracks will not allow you to do so.
The paperless unreserved ticking system was rolled out as a pilot project in April this year in Chennai. It was implemented at Egmore and Tambaram suburban section of southern railways. Later, it was extended to Mumbai suburban section from Churchgate station to Dahanu Road in July. The railways is planning to bring the eastern suburban sections of Kolkata and central Mumbai under this mobile technology. Anil Saxena, additional director general of Indian railways said “the uncovered sections of Chennai and Delhi will be covered under UTS for unreserved ticket booking in the first phase by September,” he said.
The plan is to bring the entire railway network in suburban areas of India under this system in phases. And to decongest the ticket counters at railway stations even more, Saxena said the users will be allowed to book monthly season ticket and platform tickets using this mobile phone app. These IT initiatives by the railways will benefit almost 75 lakhs passengers.