Monday Mumble: Book a local train ticket with your phone

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You can book airline tickets online. You can book railway tickets (long-distance). But you can’t buy a local train ticket online. Can you?

Vashi Station, Mumbai

Here is the idea: Using your mobile phone you could buy a Western / Central Railway local ticket. SMS / USSD will definitely be the most accessible option. You will need to send in keywords to make the booking:

<ORIGIN STATION> <DESTINATION STATION> <SINGLE/DOUBLE>

For easy payment Railways can partner with mobile operators and ensure the ticket charge is debited to the mobile number [Pre-Paid & Post-Paid]. Once confirmed and required amount adjusted, the final ticket can be sent via SMS to the commuter. If the commuter uses a Mobile App to book tickets, they could even keep a complete log of their trips.

This would be so useful to skip the long queues. You could buy the ticket before reaching the station and jumping straight into your favourite local. Or you can actually just rush into the train and even buy the ticket once settled into your seat.

Of course there will be some aspects which will need to be ironed out for the final execution:

  • Commuters may get the spelling wrong when sending the SMS (Can there be some intelligence in the system?)
  • Who will bear the SMS cost? Toll Free or charged at local rate to the commuter?
  • The possibility of somebody fudging the system and generating fake SMS which could misguide the Ticket Checker.

With IRCTC opening up the opportunities for partnerships, I think its a matter of time before somebody can approach the railways and get them into a dialogue with the mobile operators.

What do you think – possible? Complicated? Not worth the money? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

What is Monday Mumble? 
Often, there are thoughts, ideas or just sparks which are not fool-proof. Monday Mumble is an attempt to share such bizarre but probably exciting ideas out loud here and collect an opinion. 

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