The railways are going high tech slowly! Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu launched 2 mobile apps for passengers and railways officials, through a remote controlled video conference between the Rail Bhawan and New Delhi Station. Not just that, Prabhu said that the railways will also sign an MoU between the Railways Department of CRIS and ISRO for using Geospatial and satellite technology for different railways operations. Here’s the lowdown:

Utsonmobile: The paperless unreserved ticketing mobile app
The paperless unreserved ticketing mobile app, called ‘Utsonmobile’ has been developed by Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) for Android and Windows platform, in order to eliminate the need for printing unreserved tickets at ATVMs in stations. Between the suburban areas of Chennai and Mumbai Western Railway sections, the app claims to cover 125 stations and a distance of 295 kms. The Ministry said that 1,600 tickets were being booked through the app daily.

The New Delhi-Palwal section from the Northern Railways will add 11 stations and 57 kms of distance. The railways have marked GPS coordinates of railways tracks with a 20 meter geo-fencing area, where no tickets will be able to be booked, on the New Delhi-Palwal section. The paperless unreserved ticketing will be extended to the New Delhi-Palwal section of the Northern Railways and will extend to other suburban sections of the Eastern Railways, South Eastern Railways and South Central Railways soon.

The app will provide alerts and tickets can be paid for using the ‘Railway Wallet’. Post booking, the user will get a confirmation screen with ticket info. The encrypted ticket will be stored in the local mobile app database, but also cannot be cancelled to prevent users from claiming refund after travel. The ticket will have a distinct colour scheme daily with embedded QR code, cannot be forwarded to, edited or printed from another mobile. Old tickets will be removed from the mobile through a sync feature.

Prabhu said along with paperless unreserved ticketing system, Chennai and Mumbai suburban stations will also have monthly season ticket (MST) soon, while MSTs will be made available through mobile phones soon as well.

Parichaalan: The freight monitoring app
Parichaalan will help in improving operating efficiency of ‘Management information systems’ and make available freight operations for decisions makers real time. After an initial experiment, the app will be provided to other field operating officers as well.

CCOTVM: Cash/smart card operated ticket vending machines
CCOTVM is an automated self operated kiosk to buy unreserved tickets with cash and coins (denominations of Rs 5 and above) and smart cards. Note that the kiosk will not accept soiled, cut, glued, taped or colored notes. It will let users book platform, non-concessional second class journey tickets for non-suburban sections and first, second class and return journey tickets for the suburban section. It will also be able to renew non-concessional season tickets, as well as smart card recharges of Rs 20, 50, 100 and 500.

The kiosk will have a thermal printer, RFID reader, cash and coin validators of 15 notes and 10 coins, as well as a cash box capacity of 25,000 notes and 3,000 coins. The ministry notes that while ATVMs will be used for issuing tickets through smart cards, CCOTVMs will issue tickets through cash, coins and smartcards as well as recharging the smartcards.

The ministry elaborated on the CCOTVM’s security saying that it will have mechanical and electronic locks and 2 doors for maintenance and accessing the cash box (which is alarm system integrated and will obviously go off in case of unauthorised usage). Supervisors will be given smart cards.