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Electronic Ticket Booking in Indian Railways

Electronic Ticketing System on Indian Railways

Indian Railways is the largest transportation carrier across the rail network in India. India Railways is an organization managed by the Railway Board and falls under the Ministry of Railways of the Union Government. Indian Railways and Railway Board is headed by the Chairman of the Railway Board who is assisted by the General Managers across sixteen railway zones under the rail network.

The online ticketing is managed by the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation popularly known as IRCTC. IRCTC is the wholly-owned subsidiary of Indian Railways headed by the Managing Directors and assisted by General Managers across five zones in India. IRCTC also manages catering operations on the Indian Railway network and operates tourism trains from New Delhi.

The IRCTC provides passengers to book online tickets through its web portal The passengers can book advanced tickets 120 days ahead of the reservation period/timeline. Some of the quotas like the foreign tourist quota allow the passengers to book tickets up to 360 days in advance.

The Advantages of Electronic Tickets

As mentioned earlier passengers are offered the flexibility to book train tickets through web and mobile app, at least 120 days in advance. Upon successful booking of tickets, a ten-digit Passenger Name Record or PNR number is generated. Passengers have the facility to download the Electronic Reservation Slip or ERS and show it to the train ticket examiner during the journey. A maximum of six passengers can be booked against a single PNR and a maximum of six PNR tickets can be booked online through IRCTC's web portal.

Further PNR-based tickets are also available across Passenger Reservation System centers or PRS booking counters located in prominent cities under the Indian Railway network. A PRS based railway ticket is similar to Electronic Reservation Slip or ERS ticket. The only difference is the PNR ticket is generated on a paper roll and the passengers are required to visit the PRS counters to manually book the train tickets. The PRS based tickets are usually booked by the passengers intending to avail travel concessions available under various quotas and booking categories. The tickets for various quotas and concessions require the presentation of proof of identity and hence are ideal for physical/manual booking at PRS counters.

The IRCTC web portal does not allow the booking of tickets for any concession holders with the exception of Divyangajan tickets, Journalist Tickets, Tatkal tickets. It otherwise allows booking of reserved tickets only under General Quota. A Tatkal ticket can also be booked on the IRCTC portal. Tatkal ticket is generated to the passengers intending to travel on short notice. The general fare is applicable including tatkal booking charges for sleeper and air-conditioned travel.

Electronic Tickets through Digital Modes

Electronic tickets booked through the IRCTC portal have an advantage over the printed PRS ticket. As soon as an e-ticket is booked online through the IRCTC portal, the journey details along with the train information are sent as a short message service or SMS to the registered mobile number of the passenger.

As also a copy of the Electronic Reservation Slip or ERS is generated and send to the registered email id of the passenger. Thus the SMS and email copy of the e-ticket acts as a valid document to travel during the journey along with the production of a valid identity card to the travel ticket examiner. The SMS and email copy of tickets are generated due to the facility of online booking through IRCTC's web portal.

The facility is immensely beneficial as it saves the cost of printing the paper and saves the environment also. If the status of reserved ticket booking is waitlisted at the time of online booking, the final status of the ticket will be sent through the SMS after the preparation of the final charts of the train.

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In case, the tickets are waitlisted even after the preparation of the chart, a passenger cannot board the full reserved train. The online booking has a facility of automatic cancellation of waitlisted tickets and refunds are arranged automatically to the respective payment gateway, usually within seven days.

Electronic Tickets to Save Environment

As of now Indian Railways and IRCTC provides the passengers an option to carry the printout of the Electronic Reservation Slip or ERS ticket. There is a need to incentivize the passengers who carry digital tickets and instead save the environment whilst otherwise compelling the passengers to print the tickets. The move will help the passengers to carry hassle-free online/digital tickets. The move will also help the Indian Railways and IRCTC to save the environment and conserve excess usage of paper during rail travel.

The competent authorities may take up this suggestion owing to high popularity in online bookings through IRCTC's web portal, resulting in digital tickets than the need for printed tickets.

Indian Railways provides the option of traveling by its train through online tickets popularly known as Electronic Reservation Slip or ERS. The tickets can be booked online through the IRCTC web portal or through IRCTC mobile app. The facility has benefited immensely to save the environment

Poll-Booking an Electronic Ticket

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Varun Dambal (author) from Bangalore on May 29, 2021:


Liz Westwood from UK on May 29, 2021:

It is interesting to read how electronic ticketing has been rolled out in India. We all seem to be moving towards paperless and cashless societies.

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