In reply to a question in Lok Sabha, Railways update Parliament with details of major initiatives taken by Ministry of Railways to improve the facilities for Rail Passengers:
- Online ticket booking facility through Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) website thereby obviating the need to stand in queues at reservation counters.
- Reserved and unreserved ticket booking facility through mobile phones.
- Provision of Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVMs) at railway stations for dispensation of tickets.
- Provision of various cashless modes of payment like net banking, e-wallets, credit/debit cards through Point of Sale (POS)s machines, through Unified Payment Interface (UPI), etc.
- Earmarking of separate counters at various Computerised Passenger Reservation System (PRS) centres for dealing with the reservation requisitions received from persons with disability, senior citizens, ladies, former Members of Parliament, Members of Legislative Assemblies, accredited press correspondents and freedom fighters.
- Automatic preparation of first reservation charts at least 4 hours before scheduled departure of train and thereafter booking of available accommodation through internet as well as through PRS counters till preparation of second reservation charts.
- Intimation to passengers through SMS in case of change in passengers’ reservation status from waiting list/RAC to confirmed, cancellation of trains, late running of train in identified trains, etc.
- Cancellation of computerised Passenger Reservation System (PRS) counter tickets through IRCTC website or through 139.
- Automatic refund to e-ticket holders in case of cancellation of trains.
- Introduction of Alternate Train Accommodation Scheme ‘VIKALP’ to provide confirmed accommodation to waitlisted passengers in alternate train to ensure optimal utilisation of available accommodation.
- Increase in number of berths earmarked as RAC to accommodate more passengers.
- Earmarking of combined quota of 6 lower berths per coach in Sleeper, 3 lower berths per coach in 3AC and 3 lower berths per coach in 2AC class for Senior Citizens, pregnant women and female passengers 45 years of age and above. Further, in Rajdhani, Duronto and fully Air Conditioned/ Express trains, 4 lower berths per coach are earmarked under this quota.
- Earmarking of a reservation Quota of 6 berths in 3AC class by Garib Rath Express trains for exclusive use of female passengers irrespective of their age while travelling alone or in group of female passengers.
- Earmarking of reservation quota of two berths in 3AC class and four berths in Sleeper class for persons with disability.
- Introduction of Sarathi Seva to help old and disabled passengers requiring assistance at the station and strengthen the existing services for enabling passengers to book Battery Operated Car (BOC), porter services etc. on a paid basis in addition to the existing pick up and drop and wheelchair services.
- Provision of Yatri Mitra Sewa at major stations for enabling passengers to book wheelchair services cum porter services.
- Electronic display boards are provided at ‘A-1’ and ‘A’ category stations and public address systems are provided at ‘A-1’, ‘A’ and ‘B’ category of stations and can be provided upto “D” category of stations.
- Taking various steps with a view to encouraging booking of rail ticket through internet e.g. withdrawing of service charge imposed by IRCTC, enhancing the capacity of the server, increasing the options available for making payment while booking ticket through internet etc. Due to these efforts, internet ticketing now constitute approximately 65% of total reserved tickets issued on Indian Railways.
In addition, in the Union Budget 2018-19 it has been announced that redevelopment of 600 major railway stations is being taken up by Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Limited. All stations with more than 25000 footfalls will have escalators. All railway stations and trains will be progressively provided with wi-fi. CCTVs will be provided at all stations and on trains to enhance security of passengers.
It has also been decided to open the first ever National Rail and Transport Institute at Vadodara. The University will be set up in the campus of Ministry of Railways’ National Academy of Indian Railways (NAIR) in Vadodara, Gujarat. The campus infrastructure will be built in phases to cater to approximately 3,000 students over 10 years. Detailed Project Report has been submitted to the Ministry of Human Resource Development which has forwarded it to UGC for examination and advice on conferment of Deemed to be University status under the denovo category. Renovation and upgradation work at National Academy of Indian Railways shall start shortly.