IRCTC, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation, introduced internet based ticket booking system while on-line purchases were still a miracle in India. The huge demand and slow traffic of their website www.irctc.co.in made them rethink about the possible alternatives of ticket booking, without using a counter in the railway station. In the new avatar of IRCTC, the Train passengers will be able to use their mobile phones to book tickets.
The Indian Railway have announced that there will be two possible options for booking tickets using mobile phones. It will be either a simple text-messaging based facility or a menu based dialing service. The service will be available from 1st of July, 2013. The two non-internet systems developed by IRCTC can be used with even simple feature phones.
“The bookings can be made from anywhere and at any time in a secure manner”, said a senior IRCTC official. “There’s no need to log onto the internet or stand in a queue. Any mobile user can operate this system using handsets ranging from feature phones to smart phones.”
In the menu based dialing service, a system called unstructured supplementary data (USSD) is used where you have to dial the numbers on the menu offered,which is similar to dialing to customer care number. The payment is made through mobile wallet, a facility which many telecom companies offer. For using this facility, one doesn’t need an internet connection and hence no data charges are applied. Also customers don’t have to register with their banks to use this facility.
The IRCTC claims that it has provided a simple menu pattern to book tickets, search stations and to check the availability of trains. “A dedicated telephone number will be provided for carrying out the transactions,” the official said.
For the SMS based service, customers need to register with their banks to generate Mobile Money Identifier [in short MMID], a seven digit random number.
Six berths/seats can be booked in a single transaction through the new systems.
SMS Based booking
Registered IRCTC users can use this option. The user should generate an MMID in order to book ticket. The mobile number as well as the bank must be registered with IRCTC by the user. The bank will provide MMID and OTP [One Time Password for the user].
User have to type and send “BOOK” to the designated number. After receiving a transaction ID, the user can make the payment using another SMS “PAY” to the designated number.
Menu Based Dialing
User shall dial the designated number, then have to select ‘book tickets’ and ‘reservation’ options, and then the details of [train no, station names, journey dates etc] in order to book the ticket in this mode. User will be prompted to enter his IRCTC user ID once during the process.
To book using mobile wallet, user shall enter the mPIN. Finally user will get a confirmation SMS sent by IRCTC.