Railway Minister on Thursday presented the Indian Railway Budget 2015-16. The latest Railway Budget does away from populism, and focusses on improving the current infrastructure and hitting the revival path. More importantly, Railways is focussing on technology side which is expected to benefit a large segment of railway users.
Here are some key announcements from Railway Budget 2015-16 focussing on technology:
Paperless ticketing, charting
Hand-held terminals will now be provided to Travelling Ticket Examiners (TTEs), which can be used for verification of passengers and downloading charts. This system will help move towards paperless ticketing and charting and expedite finalization of refund claims apart from saving reams of paper. Railways is also exploring the idea of extending the facility of SMS on mobiles as a valid proof of travel for PRS tickets as well.
Operation Five Minutes
Railways plans to address one of the biggest problems faced by the common man intending to travel in unreserved class is purchasing a ticket. It has introduced 'Operation Five Minutes' to ensure that a passenger travelling unreserved can purchase a ticket within five minutes. Provision of modified 'hot- buttons', coin vending machines and 'single destination teller' windows will drastically reduce the transaction time.
For the differently-abled travellers, a special initiative is being launched whereby they can purchase concessional e- tickets after one-time registration. It is also proposed to work towards developing a multi-lingual e-ticketing portal. We will move towards crediting all refunds through the banking system.
Digital India: Centrally managed Railway Display Network
Railways plans to introduce a centrally managed Railway Display Network in over 2,000 stations over the next two years which will aid in providing information on train arrival/departure, reservations, general and emergency messages and also any other information of interest to citizens. This facility will promote "Digital India Campaign" and also unlock huge advertising revenue potential.
Integrated Customer Portal
Railways is working on an an integrated customer portal, which will be a single interface for the customers to access different services. Seamless navigation would be possible across different websites of Railways.
Soon you will get "SMS Alert" service in advance about the updated arrival/departure time of trains at starting or destination stations. Similarly SMS alert would be sent 15/30 minutes in advance of arrival of the train at the destination.
Surveillance cameras will be installed on a pilot basis selected mainline coaches and ladies' compartments of suburban coaches without compromising on privacy. The move is aimed ensuring safety of women.
Mobile phone charging facilities would be provided in general class coaches and the number of charging facilities would be increased in sleeper class coaches.
As part of Digital India initiative, Wi - Fi will be provided at B category stations as well.
Online booking of facilities
Online booking of retiring rooms has already been initiated. The facility of self-operated lockers would also gradually be made available at stations. It is proposed to provide concierge services through the IRCTC at major stations for the assistance of passengers for their pick up and drop. Railways will also provide a facility for online booking of wheel chair on payment basis for senior citizens, patients and the differently-abled passengers through IRCTC on select stations.
IT vision for Railways
IT vision for the Railways. On- line information on latest berth availability on running trains, an integrated mobile application including station navigation system, etc. will be made available. Customer friendly freight movement initiatives such as introduction of bar coded/RFID tracking of parcels and freight wagons, automated parcel warehouses, customer relationship management system, etc., will be undertaken. There will be an integration of train control and asset management applications.
What do you think about Railways Budget? Any other tech improvement you expected from Railways? Let us know your views in the comments section below:
Note: Excerpts from Indian Railway Budget Speech 2015-16 Source: IBN