If the railway ministry has its way, it could end the issue of physical paper tickets. In its place would be an SMS, which people will receive on their mobile devices immediately after booking a ticket at the railway counter itself. The advantage is the phenomenal cost cutting the railways can achieve with this one move. It would mean the end to thousands of printers and added paraphernalia at railway booking counters across the country. As part of the plan, the ministry is also looking to end the current system of pasting schedule charts on railway coaches.
Of the 11 lakh tickets issued by the Indian Railways daily, over 6 lakh are physical paper tickets. As a first step, the railways has already stopped issuing freshly printed ‘cancelled tickets’ each time a ticket is cancelled. Apart from managing an inventory of thousands of printers, the railways would save around 1,200 tonnes of paper annually. To cater to the needs of those who do not have their own mobile devices, there would be a few printed tickets. Since the railways would have to send millions of SMSs everyday, these messages would have advertising to ensure that railway costs are marginal. It is a step in the right direction. The railways needs to find more means to cut costs across the board.