Rail passengers can now opt for booking tickets through SMS, after Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge launched the SMS-based ticketing system on Friday.
The SMS system is likely to come handy for people who do not have access to Internet or smartphones as tickets can be booked from non-Internet-enabled phones too.
“Since the mobile penetration in India has increased rapidly and more than 80 per cent people have mobile phones, this new system will be helpful in enabling the booking of tickets by masses themselves,” the minister said.
The system will also help the Railways in overcoming the menace of touting, whereby unsuspecting people are fleeced. This will particularly be useful for labourers and workers staying away from their homes and who regularly book tickets to travel to their native place, Mallikarjun Kharge added.
Interestingly, though the Internet penetration is merely 10 per cent, over 45 per cent of the reserved tickets done is by online booking through the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) website, which has drawn much flak for its slow performance.
To access the system, a user will have to get a mobile money account opened from his/her bank or through mobile money providing agencies, as approved by the Reserve Bank of India.
Among other things, users would also be able to book tickets through the railways helpline number 139. Private mobile service providers are also gearing up to help users book railway tickets.