Train

Users of Indian Railways should soon be able to cancel their train tickets by dialling 139 and presenting the one time password (OTP) sent to the mobile number to the rail counter to get a refund, reports ET. The service will be rolled out next month and will only be valid for users who have booked tickets through ticketing counters.

Users will also need to reach the rail counter two hours before the train departs. This move comes at a time when the Railways has doubled its cancellation charges in order to reduce fake bookings. Tickets booked online will need to be cancelled through irctc.co.in.

As of now, users can dial or SMS 139 to get info on PNR, accommodation availability, fare enquiry, current train position i.e. arrival and departure times, train name and number through both landlines and mobiles. A single SMS costs Rs 3 though. Presently, there are multiple apps for this as well, but IRCTC lists only two under its domain.

Cap on number of tickets: In January, the Railway Ministry announced that from February 2016, individual users would be able to book only 6 train tickets online per month on the IRCTC website. Before this, individual users could book a maximum of 10 tickets per month. The existing rule of getting to book 2 Tatkal tickets between 10AM and 12PM in a day and 2 advance reservation period (ARP) tickets between 8AM-10AM in a day would be stayed. The Ministry said that this step was taken after it noticed that 90% of users were booking upto 6 tickets every month, while only 10% were booking more than 6 tickets, and which the Ministry also suspected as touts. It stated that the new rule would discourage touts from hogging tickets.

Recent ramp up initiatives by the Indian Railways:

– Earlier this month, the Indian Railways introduced on board housekeeping service (OBHS) which will let passengers as for cleaning of coaches while the train is running. As of now, the service, which was announced in the Rail Budget last month, is available in around 1300 trains offers a scheduled cleaning of coaches twice a day.

– Last month, the IRCTC introduced e-bedroll, a paid service where train passengers could book the bedsheet top, bedsheet bottom, pillow and a fabric pack for their journey at Chennai and Trivandrum Central Railway Stations.

– In the same month, the IRCTC tied up with OYO Rooms to launch an IRCTC hotel-booking page on OYO Rooms, offering its inventory to train travellers. Note that IRCTC’s website continues to list various budget hotel, retiring rooms, lounges etc., and added a button for IRCTC OYO Rooms.

– The IRCTC has been tying up with multiple food delivery companies to let users order food while on the go, as well at train stations. In January, it tied up with TravelKhana, who it had incidentally sued in December for copyright infringement; Hello Curry in November, Foodpanda in the same month, and earlier in 2015 with Pizza Hut and KFC and Jubilant Foodworks.

Our IRCTC coverage.