IRCTCmobile: harnessing mobile technology for railways

March 7th, 2008 - 12:54 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 7 (IANS) In a rare example of action pre-empting intention, mobile rail ticketing had already been in use for several months before Railway Minister Lalu Prasad announced it as one of the highlights in his budget to modernize train reservations. The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corp Ltd (IRCTC), a division of Indian Railways which issues tickets to about 15 million passengers daily, launched IRCTCmobile services to provide “cutting-edge technology” in April last year. IRCTCmobile is a result of mobile transaction technology pioneered by technology guru Sam Pitroda’s Chicago-based company C-SAM, Inc.

IRCTCmobile is device and network agnostic, which means users can buy any standard phone on any network from any of the operators such as Bharti, BSNL, Reliance or Vodaphone and book and purchase rail tickets on mobile phones.

Yadav’s assertion that queues at train stations for tickets would be a thing of the past in the next couple of years is in a sense already happening for many users of IRCTCmobile.

The solution, which works both on SMS as well data connection, offers icons that the user can choose from to book, purchase and electronically receive train tickets. IRCTCmobile allows passengers to perform various services such as book tickets using credit and cash cards, view train schedules, check availability, get fares, perform inquiries and access many other associated information services through mobile phones.

It has the potential to become the first mass market adoption of a technology which is considered unrivalled in terms of the number of mobile applications and services it offers. Given the size and scale of Indian Railways it can easily become the world’s most widespread mobile ticketing application.

For a country that adds some eight million mobile phones a month and could see the number of total mobile phones rise to a staggering 500 million by 2010 from the current 280 million, mobile applications such as railway ticketing are the most effective way to capitalise on such unprecedented connectedness.

“IRCTCmobile is a great example of how the most advanced mobile technology can be deployed in a country like India to benefit the masses, including people at the bottom of the pyramid,” Pitroda said.

A statement by C-SAM said the company and IRCTC are exploring ways to introduce a wide range of other new services on mobile phones, including issuance of loyalty coupons, advertising, reward points like airlines, pre-paid cards, m-commerce and travel portals.

“To inform people mobile ticketing needs to be promoted across the country at all railway stations since its benefits are meant for millions who use trains as a means of transport,” the company said.

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