Passengers have lauded the Railways initiative to go paperless by discontinuing pasting of reservation charts on trains at all erstwhile A1, A & B category stations on trial basis for six months. According to them it’s a good step and will go a long way in saving the environment by reducing the usage of paper. They also added that in this era of technological advancement, where information is available through mobile phones and digital modes, reservation charts have become outdated. Nowadays, most of the people don’t check the reservation charts pasted on coaches before boarding the train. Moreover, a lot of manpower is required for printing the reservation charts and pasting them on coaches. Through this step, Railways will be able to save money and allocate those for improving passenger amenities.
When AV spoke to Aarti Singh Parihar, Senior Divisional Commercial Manager of Western Railways, she said that the railways have taken various steps for modernisation of Passenger Reservation System (PRS). She said, “A waitlisted passenger gets message on his mobile phone if his ticket is confirmed. App has been launched enabling people to check the status of the ticket at any given point.”
Aarti also said that Railways have decided that pasting charts on coaches of trains is not necessary as people receive updates about the status of their reservation through mobile phones and computers. “However, charts will be pasted at selected locations on railway stations for those people who don’t use internet,” she added.
Railways have implemented the Green Initiative in reserved coaches at stations like New Delhi’s Hazrat Nizamuddin, Mumbai Central, Chennai Central, Howrah, and Sealdah stations. However, the public transporter has now decided to withdraw reservation charts on all trains for six months.
Railways have taken various measures to cut down paper use by starting online reservation facility for passengers. It has appealed to passengers to refrain from taking print out of the reserved tickets and instead show the messages received on their mobiles to Train Ticket Examiners (TTE). Railways have already introduced PoS (Point of Sale) machines that will enable passengers to book tickets through debit cards.
Mumbai Congress Chief Sanjay Nirupam said that Railways is the biggest transporter and mainly caters to the middle class section of the society. “Despite this, Railways fare and platform tickets have become overmuch since last few years and Railways should address this issue first. The government should focus on cleanliness, safety, food, punctuality of trains, instead of going paperless as it is not that important,” he said.
The railways have also introduced PoS (Point of Sale) machines at all its ticket counters, besides allowing for payments via digital wallets. In the freight segment, 95 per cent of the transactions are conducted without the requirement for hard cash. An app also has been launched for enabling suburban train commuters to book ticket.
Mousumi Bhattacharya, a private tech company employee in Mumbai appreciated the initiate taken by Railways to go paperless and said that it will pave way for its modernisation. “Nowadays it is hard to find people without smartphone as passengers receive information about reservation status of the train after booking. People should not criticise government’s initiative just for the sake of it,” she said.
In 2016, the South Western Railways had decided to adopt a paperless initiative by discontinuing paper charts on trains running from Bengaluru City and Yeshwantpur railway stations. This step enabled the Railways to save over Rs 60 lakh incurred on paper. From March 1 onwards Southern Railway will end the practice of pasting reservation charts on all trains. It will enable the transporter to save 28 tonnes of charting paper and Rs 1.70 lakh every year. However, the respective coach and berth number information would still be available at centralised locations in all the railway stations and also with the travelling ticket examiners.
Ramakrishna B S, a Chennai resident, wants the railways to improve basic amenities first before going paperless. He said, “I travel by railways at least twice a year and can express what all major necessary things they should focus on. Paperless system is needed but before that railways should maintain cleanliness of platforms and quality of food should be improved.”
“Many people don’t have smart phones, the paper reservation chart used to help them for checking the status before boarding train. But now, they have started pasting reservation charts in only few places on the platform. The crowd rush at those places for checking the chart makes a chaotic situation,” he added.