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RailwayBoard says OK for SMS Booking

In a major policy decision taken by the Railway Board, it has been decided to treat SMSs sent by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) as well as by the railways'passenger reservation system (PRS) on a par with the electronic reservation slip (ERS) during journey on e-tickets. The step has been taken to improve passenger amenities.

According to a Railway Board official, director, passenger marketing, Monica Agnihotri has written letters to all the chief commercial managers of the zonal railways to give necessary instructions to train ticket examiners (TTEs) to follow the Board's directive in the larger interests of passengers.

According to sources, the Board issued this directive following complaints from a few places that passengers were not being allowed to board trains on the basis of SMSs sent on their cellphones by the IRCTC during journey. According to a Board official, the railways has allowed to treat screen shot of the e-ticket displayed through laptops, palmtops and cellphones as virtual reservation message (VRM) and mobile reservation message (MRM) for tickets booked through mobile phones. However, an identity proof is a must for passengers while undertaking journey on the basis of SMSs, he said.

According to sources, the SMS will also have to be displayed during on-board/off board ticket-checking drive conducted by the railways on railway premises. In case a passenger fails to produce or display the SMS during ticket checking, the railways would verify the details of the passenger concerned from the reservation chart. His identity proof would also be verified by the TTEs on duty. A sum of Rs 50 would be taken as penalty by the railways if the passenger fails to show the SMS during the ticket-checking drive on platforms or on running trains, sources said.

The new system to book tickets through cellphones is gradually picking up across the country. Cellphone-savvy passengers, particularly in Delhi, are getting used to book their tickets through cellphones, a Board official said, adding that it is yet to gain popularity in Bihar.