Another feature of e-ticketing is that customers can book tickets under the Tatkal scheme as well which is not available for Internet/mobile booking.

Mamuni Das

New Delhi, June 7

COME July and Indian Railways' much talked about e-ticketing initiative would take off after about a one-and-a-half year delay.

With e-tickets, passengers would be able to board the train with a computer printout obtained from his/her personal computer terminal. As per the present system, while tickets can be booked on the Internet or through cell-phones, the ticket printout is taken at the Railways' end, which is then collected by or delivered to the passenger through a courier service, for which the passenger has to pay extra Rs 40-60.

"We would like to launch a pilot project on the Kalka-Chandigarh-Delhi Shatabdi Express during July," said a senior official in the Railway Ministry.

Earlier, plans to launch e-ticketing facility was delayed due to concerns over `misuse' of the facility since no human interaction was involved before the passenger gets into the train. As per the current plan, the user would have to produce a proof of identity bearing his/her photograph issued by the Government, along with the ticket printout, before boarding the train. "The identity could be a passport, a PAN card, a driving licence, voter identity card or an identity-card issued by the Government to its officials," informed an official.

But, the customer, while booking the ticket on the Internet, is required to mention the specific proof of identity and the serial number of the card that he/she would use for boarding the train.

"When the customer boards the train, he/she would be asked to produce the same identity proof that the customer had mentioned while booking the ticket. If the customer does not carry the same proof, he/she would be barred from boarding the train. The ticket checker on the train would match these details," informed the official. As is the case with Internet/mobile booking, payment mode is going to be credit card.

Another feature that e-ticketing customers can avail themselves of is to book tickets under the Tatkal scheme as well which is not available for Internet/mobile booking. "Under e-ticketing, users can book ticket till the reservation chart is released which is usually 4-8 hours before the train departs depending on the time of departure," added the official.

"We have studied the methodology followed by airlines and trains worldwide in order to find out the best practices," said the official. There were concerns that it would become easier to block tickets by booking them on the Net, get a printout of the ticket without even having to collect them and resell them at a premium. The present ticket booking system involves some human interaction, while the ticket is delivered or is collected, be it through a counter or the Internet.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated June 8, 2005)
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