Standing in line at ticket windows or going through travel agents is becoming a thing of the past for a large number of Indians with access to digital services offered by Indian railways. From initial glitches and lags, the IRCTC site has come a long way, and the company even launched a successful IPO in 2019, which was subscribed 111 times. Now the Indian Railways are encouraging digital transactions for buying food across railway stations, after everything from booking tickets to bed sheets and meals on the train is done online.
To address complaints about overcharging, the railways have also enabled catering staff on trains to generate printed receipts for digital transactions via hand-held PoS devices. At present, 3081 POS machines are available on 596 trains. 4316 static units have been provided with POS machines.
This system of digital payments is powering 1,755 service providers at 310 stations to deliver almost 42,000 meals every day. Apart from the option to book meals with tickets, passengers have the option to use the app, a website or even a call centre for ordering food during the journey.
Digitisation was further accelerated after online services became the only viable touch-free alternative during the pandemic. By embracing innovation such as solar and wind energy, Southern Railway alone saved Rs 55 crore, while reducing its carbon footprint as well.