Railway ticket booking and related services is one of the most successful e-Governance projects in India. At present, any customer can book tickets through the Internet, provided he can make payment online. To popularize booking through Internet, the delivery of tickets has been extended to 181 cities. Payment options have been liberalized by introducing the facility of direct Debit through Internet and Prepaid Cash Cards in addition to Credit Cards. The booking hours have been extended from 4.00 a.m. to 11.30 p.m. on all weekdays and from 4.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. on Sunday. In addition, facility of booking through mobile phones has been introduced along with booking of tickets through e-ticketing where conventional ticket is dispensed with.
Website of Indian railway has been built to cater to the needs of common urban Indian citizen who understands use of internet but is not an expert. Some of the good features of the website which are built taking into account “citizen centricity” are
- Common Indian citizen will not have internet at home. He will go to nearby internet cafe to book the tickets. Many of people do not understand the importance of logging out of the website. To cater this problem, password is asked twice. Once while logging in and then while user tries to access any booked ticket.
- As credit cards and debit cards are not available to all, prepaid cards are being offered to facilitate use of online booking system. Check the website (http://www.rediff.com/money/2005/feb/03rail.htm)
- Ajax technology of JAVA is used to make calls to the database. In this technology, webpage need not be reloaded each time new data is to be fetched.
- Train running information is updated at regular intervals so that passenger time could be saved. This information can also be accessed from mobile.
- PNR status updates can be obtained separately without logging into the irctc website
- National Train Enquiry System has also been established to provide updated position to the passengers These Centres will have the capacity to handle one lakh calls a day
Some of the features which could be modified are
- Allowing a non-confirmed ticket to be used in railway if waitlisted as in case of railway counter ticket
- Provide data on the chances of a ticket getting confirmed on the basis of statistical analysis so that alternative arrangements for travel could be made
- Make website compatible to all browsers so that maximum users can have access to the website
However, question is whether successful implementation of e-Governance project is a symbol of good governance. Today, Indian railway carries huge number of masses from one place to another. This is putting pressure on the limited railway resources. Tickets have to be booked two months prior to the date of journey. TCs are not able to handle large masses of illegal commuters in the train. We all know about the condition of washrooms in railways. There is no provision of dustbin in the railway and all that is waste just goes out of windows. It is time to use technology for better serving the people not just in terms of booking tickets but also for a comfortable and safe journey.