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Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The Journey Starts Here-New Railway Reservation System

New Railway Reservation System-

As the summer season sweeps in, one finds it tough to get the reservation. Although Tatkal Facility comes as a savior but on the very first day rather say in the very first hour all the seats get booked. Then what to do and whom to approach! Reaching the destination can’t be avoided. Now only option remains is to take a waitlisted ticket and wait for the D-day, the day of journey. After consistent prayer to GOD and checking the WL status daily until the chart is prepared and when still not being able to get the right to enter in the reserved coach legally, last options remains is to grease the palms of the TTE and hence assure a sound sleep for night.
Recently, I had to travel to Bombay from Kota.I checked the Internet for availability of seats in trains but as expected none of the seats was available in any of the trains. Devastated, I took out a waitlisted ticket from a Local Travel Agent with a 50-50 assurance of confirmation. I was asked to meet one person at the Railway Station who somehow has to do some magic by arranging a confirmed berth for me in the overcrowded Train. I was little terrified as he was the only ray of hope. Would he identify me? Or he can easily save his face by fleeing from the scene as I was not having even his contact no. Even if I got to meet him, chances were he simply could have said NO. Reaching the destination was important I was getting nervous. But with God’s Grace I managed to contact the person but it was not the end of the story. He told me to wait for the Train to arrive. Immediate expressions emerged on my face were of fury mixed with nervousness as even this guy seemed to be helpless! But nervousness finally covered my face with a 90 Degree smile of PITY and my language took a sharp U Turn from Bhaisahab to Sir as I could only say “Yes Sir, please dekhlijiyega, jana thoda jaroori hai.” That day even the train was in a mood to test waters. One of the Best Trains of India “Rajdhani Express” was getting late and late. Obvious reason was as Rajasthan had recently overcome from communal riots that had put the entire state machinery out of gear. The PA system announced the arrival of the train. “Yatrigan kripya dhyan de…dilli se chalne wali..mumbai ko jaane wali gadi sankhya…..nau bazkar paitalis minute par platform no 2 par aa rahi hai”.Heart started pounding fast. I lifted my luggage and waited for the train to arrive. The train arrived .I along with that guy moved towards the train. A person wearing black coat alighted from the 2nd AC coach.He was the TTE.A tall, well built Keralite with some bunch of papers in his hand (The typical Indian TT Style). We approached him. The guy with me pleaded him to allot a berth to me. But to a sudden shock! He showed his inability to help me. Time was running fast. A hardly 2 minutes stoppage. The decision had to be taken fast. Denied! We then moved to another TTE of 3rd AC, he repeated the same story “no seats, boss”. By now I had made up my mind that I would have to miss the train. But thanks to GOD, story was not over yet. It was just like cracking a last minute deal. As if I were in the mid of some auction and I had to offer a Final Bid. Or I am playing the Last Ball, Last Over and I had to hit a six. The guy accompanying me asked to give Rs.500 to him. First I thought the amount is too BIG but it always had little worth wrt saving a day .I agreed and paid him a Rs.500 note with a Gandhi embedded on it. Being a disciple of Gandhi, I hate to promote corruption. But I think I still have a long way to go for becoming a True Gandhian. I realized it that day! The BID worked and Mr. John could not say no this time. After all I had emerged as the highest Bidder. A sense of “winningness” floated in my body. As I had just kicked a winning goal to my team in a soccer game. Then I boarded the train with a feel of pride and later I was allotted a berth too. I thanked Mr. John .Later I called up that agent and conveyed my thanks.
The night was sound and sweet. I tried to take a nap but the Gandhi inside me didn’t let me sleep. It provoked me to think of some idea that could stop this malpractice without causing trouble to the travelers. A fool proof system to be developed that can save me and Infact thousands like me from promoting corruption. I badly needed a solution. The whole night I could not sleep and I just kept on thinking to find a solution for this issue. How could I sleep when something was not fine and I was also a part of that system!

I hereby recommend a system that will disarm the TTEs and make the travelers life smoother. Now they can really enjoy the journey.
Some days back I chanced to read a Novel as “Da Vinci Code”. The work of the author was appreciated in high esteem. The content was too good full of codes.Infact sometimes I feel we all have a fantasy towards the word “Code”. My theory is based on the same fantasy. The “Code Theory” .If implemented, it may reshape our Indian Railways.
The system goes this way. As you book your ticket OTC (Over the Counter) or through Internet then along with the PNR No. you will be given a system generated Code. It may be a four or five digit numeric code. It will be printed on the ticket. On a confirmed ticket when you board the train you need to enter your code no on the panel installed inside the bogie. This will bypass the present system of manual checking of your Ticket by the TTE. If your code is accepted by the machine then you will be able to use your berth or it will unlock your berth. It is more like a Check-in process that is practiced by all the different Airlines. The seats will have to be redesigned in a way that without the proper authentication it will not be unlocked. So in real time the status will be updated in the system. The same can be conveyed to the central server and that can be accessed through mobile or internet in real time. Say there are three stations X, Y and Z. I have to board the train from station Z.So; I will have the real time information of the seat availability till the last station i.e. Y.It means if there are 10 reservations from Origin X to Destination Z for 10 seats and only 8 passengers have boarded the train up to station Y.So Two seats lies vacant that can be allotted to the first two waitlisted passengers that will board from Station Z.Here is the crack! Presently these seats are available at the mercy of TTE.But now with the implementation of this system one can submit its request with the Panel as soon as a passenger with a waitlisted ticket boards the train. If with some arrangement we can make the panel information available at the internet also so one can get the exact availability of the seats. Say my W/L no is 7 and there are 10 seats available than I am sure to get a confirmed berth which I can either be allotted by the Internet then and there or at the platform or after boarding the train. But in case my W/L no is 11 and 10 seats are available then my chances of getting the berth is only possible if anyone of the previous 10 W/L passengers doesn’t board the train at Station Z.This can only be confirmed after the train leaves station Z.Now after boarding the train you just have to enter the information of the boarding in the Panel. After the train leaves the station you need to again request the panel for the current status. If as I said if anyone of the 10 passengers have not boarded the train from station Z then that vacant seat will be allotted to you. Again no need to fall prey of any TTE.Infact after the introduction of this system we will virtually require no TTE which should ideally be. Time is changing and so our systems also. Yes they will be required at the general bogies always as there is no reservation system there.
Use of Barcode in place of Numeric Code:
There may be some passengers who may be illiterate and they will be very much uncomfortable in using this code system. For them a Barcode will help. They just need to show the Barcode printed on the ticket to the panel. Then a Computer Generated Voice will guide them to the allocated berth. Or they can simply take the help of fellow passengers. Let us understand this with a Flow chart:-

I am pretty confident that its implementation half the battle with irregularities in railways will be won!

1 comment:

Narain said...

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Visit this site and experience the new ways to find the trains and their availability.