Indian Railways to bring online meal booking, mobile ticketing and SMS updates

In the interim railway budget today, the Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge made a slew of announcements that intend to make the train-travelling experience smoother and more modern.


Passengers on Indian trains can soon book meals online using Indian Railways’ new meal-booking platform. This is similar to the service offered by startup TravelKhana, which we had profiled some time ago. With this new alternative to the often maligned train pantry food, IRCTC has branched out to the fast burgeoning online food delivery market.


Also announced in the budget was an update for the train running and tracking information as well as online booking of retiring rooms at all major stations. The Rail Ministry will also begin e-forwarding note and electronic transmission of railway receipts for freight customers, so those involved in the freight business with the railways can do so from their office and won’t have to visit a booking counter. Secondly, railways plans to computerise the claims settlement process for freight customers and passengers.


In addition, Kharge announced that passengers will soon be able to buy tickets for unreserved class travel using their mobile phone. This is after the Rail ministry announced that automated SMSes will be used to intimate passengers of PNR status updates. The railways also plans to add Automatic Ticket Vending Machines at stations for quicker reservations, and these machines will also accept cash.


These services and more were part of a slew of announcements presented in the interim railway budget. While passenger and freight rates remained unchanged, Kharge announced 17 new premium trains, 39 express trains and ten passenger trains.

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