The Future of Train Travel: Digitalisation of Indian Railway Ticket Booking

There is no denying the fact that we are living in a digital era in which there is a new revolutionary development in every sphere of life on a regular basis. From innovative apps to chatbots, the focus is on the optimisation of the customer experience in the ecosystem of consumerism.

From booking air tickets to train tickets, bus tickets, and even making car bookings, everything is done online now. You can even virtually experience your journey and customise your experience if you choose. Nonetheless, the focus here is on rail travel and how the Indian railway ticket booking system is evolving to give customers the ease of booking journeys.

indian railways

History of Indian Railway Ticketing

Before getting into how the Indian Railways are adapting themselves to the digital era in terms of bookings and travel, it is worth exploring the history of rail booking briefly. You can trace the history of Indian railway ticketing to colonial times when the British launched the first rail system in 1853. At the time, rail tickets were manually issued, and written by hand. In the late 20th century, train tickets were issued by computers. The Indian Railways introduced computerised bookings with a PNR (Passenger Name Record), a unique booking identification record. This was in 1986.

The legendary Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) was born in 2002. After this, the full potential of the internet in terms of railway bookings was realised. The railway booking and reservations process was further smoothened, and soon, online platforms came into existence. In the rail reservations and booking universe of today, passengers can book train tickets effortlessly from their homes or anywhere on the planet.

Rise of Digital Platforms

The landscape of Indian rail reservations and bookings has significantly been transformed due to digitalisation with the rise of digital interfaces and user-friendly platforms. People in India used to avoid rail travel in earlier times as they had to endure long queues or rely on third-party travel agents. The advent of technology, mainly smartphones facilitated by the Internet and AI (artificial intelligence) has propelled railway booking networks to new heights of efficiency and accessibility. Anyone, either from an urban or rural area can book train tickets online, as long as they have a decent internet connection and a mobile device.

Online ticketing was initiated by the IRCTC when it made its foray into rail reservation systems in 2002. The IRCTC portal was a game-changer for several Indian potential passengers as it revolutionised the booking process and the generation of the PNR. What followed were mobile apps to not only book train tickets but to check timetables and schedules, the availability of seats and trains, and find out other information related to train journeys (like the configurations of certain trains). Such features have contributed to the escalation of online rail bookings.

Nowadays, e-ticketing systems plus the adoption of digital payment methods have boosted a seamless railway booking experience for people. The integration of features such as net banking,  e-wallets, and a variety of payment gateways has enhanced transaction efficiency overall. Additionally, with the expansion of online services, a range of functionalities comprising refunds and cancellations has been facilitated. Passengers are permitted to modify travel plans conveniently and this gives the complete process of booking train tickets a flexible nature. Overall, the reservation process has become more transparent, user-friendly, and aligned with the wider global trend of digitalisation within the travel and tourism industry.

Impact on Passenger Experience

You may have gauged by now that digitalisation in all spheres of life and industry, be it the financial industry, the health industry, the transportation industry, or any other, has impacted the way you do things in your life. With transformational changes that make lives better, whether you are shopping or buying train tickets, the digital age has made the user experience more efficient and convenient than ever before.

In the realm of booking train tickets and all aspects of railway travel, digitalisation has made the passenger experience smooth and exciting at the same time. Digital platforms and interfaces like mobile applications and online websites have made the once-tedious process of booking smooth now, offering passengers effortless and convenient booking anytime and anywhere. Additionally, passengers can enjoy real-time information regarding seat availability, train schedules, and rail booking confirmations empowering travellers to plan journeys and make informed decisions.

Furthermore, the introduction of methods of digital payment has not only made transactions faster but also reduced the reliance on physical ticket booking at counters. To rail passengers in India, digitalisation has brought enhanced flexibility with efficiency.

Role of redRail

The Indian Railways stands to be the third-largest network of railways in the world, at least by size. It is constantly evolving in line with digitalisation and seeks to be on the global stage as far as rail travel is concerned. With this in view, redRail by redBus is a one-stop railway e-booking platform. The role that redRail by redBus plays is one of a key facilitator and supporter of all your rail passenger needs from selecting and choosing trains and stations to transparency in transactions and seamless customer care.

With digitalisation at the forefront of the redRail portal and integration with other apps like WhatsApp to give you updates and reservation information, redRail gives you a host of services. This is an IRCTC-authorised partner and train tickets may be booked online, and refunds expedited with ease. The platform also boasts of the quickest booking experience with just a few clicks between your choice of trains and stations to confirmation of your booking. Additionally, through the redRail portal, you can also get your PNR, find your coach position, and a host of other services.

Future Trends

Emerging technologies are all set to impact every aspect of life and industry as you know it, and rail travel and booking are not to be missed out. On the global front, the hot new trend is autonomous trains and autonomous booking is already a thing of the present. You can book your rail ticket on the spot at a railway station and do not need an advance booking through a train app. In the realm of train booking, AI is working towards preventing delays and optimising the scheduling of trains. There are also delay-forecasting systems that may be able to warn you of a potential delay in advance.

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