GUWAHATI, Feb 10 - Online booking of train tickets is gaining popularity across the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) zone and more than half of the bookings by commuters in this region are now done using the internet.
“As of January this year, 51.48 per cent of passengers in the NFR zone purchased their tickets online. The growth rate of online ticket purchasing is progressively increasing. On an average, 33,742 passengers book their tickets online daily within the zone,” Pranav Jyoti Sharma, Chief Public Relations Officer of NF Railway, told The Assam Tribune.
He said that growth of online sale of tickets in NFR on an annual basis have been quite good during the last three to four years.
“Online booking of tickets in our zone witnessed an annual jump of 33.86 per cent during 2016-17 and 42.77 per cent in 2017-18. During the first 10 months of the current 2018-19 fiscal, sale of online tickets have gone up by over 50 per cent in NFR,” Sharma added.
The online ticketing app is operated by the Indian Railways Catering & Tourism Corporation (IRCTC). Purchase of online tickets is available for all Mail and Express trains all over the Indian Railways, including the trains operated by the NFR.
“In order to promote online booking of tickets, publicity through print, electronic and social media platforms are undertaken on a regular basis by us. Booking of unreserved tickets, known as Unreserved Ticketing Service (UTS), has been made completely online. This means short-distance commuter train passengers, like those travelling towards Guwahati from nearby places, no longer need to stand in queues if they use the online UTS app, freely downloadable in all smartphones. Even platform tickets and season tickets can be purchased online through this app,” he said.
Sharma said use of the online model is beneficial for both commuters as well as the Railways.
“For passengers it means the availability of tickets is transparent and they do not need to stand in long queues. Besides, they are free from intrusion of travel agents and commercial organisations. Payment is hassle-free and cashless and there is instant online refund in the event of cancellation. For the Railways, it helps us augment our green effort by saving paper. More than 15,000 users can purchase tickets concurrently. Less computer windows at booking counters means lower requirement of staff. Besides, online purchase also means less number of complaints from passengers. It is contributing to the Digital India movement and the move towards a cashless economy,” said the NFR CPRO.
He added that going forward, NFR plans to introduce Ticket Vending Machines in major stations.
“There is overall emphasis on digitisation, promotion of transparency, paperless charting in trains and use of POS machines for payment on running trains,” Sharma said.