Indian Railways has been a mixed blessing for us Indians. There was a time when the railways timetable booklet was referred to as the ‘joke book’ of Rail ministry. Waiting at the station for hours for the train to come was a regular incident.
And booking tickets was a matter of real drudgery. Long queues, unreliable information and frustrating behaviour were all part and parcel of train travelling.
Until recently, the situation remained almost unchanged. In the era of high-tech speed, we had to go to physical centres to book tickets. We had a website, but there was always a chance that it would not work properly.
Today, fortunately, things are changing. Now, e-ticketing is a reality. Along with this and other facilities, SMS booking has been launched, and for sure, this is going to change the experience of Indian Railways forever.
- The Initial Stages –
Previously, the Indian Railways website could only book a meagre 2000 tickets per minute. When the site crashed under excessive passenger traffic, the Ministry of Railways took initiatives to re-launch the site. The new site can book 7200 tickets per minute. Last year along with the new site launch, the SMS ticket booking and information system was also launched. Now obtaining any news regarding the Indian Railways is a matter of sending an SMS.
- The Process –
Before you press the send button, there are a few steps to cover. Let’s look at the process:
- The process works on the foundation of Immediate Payment Service or IMPS supported by banks. You need to have an account with a bank, which supports IMPS. Currently, almost all banks do that. You also need to have the Mobile Money Identifier or the MMID code of seven digits for the transaction.
- You have to create your own IRCTC account. When you need to enter the phone number, please enter the number, which you have registered in the bank through which the payment will be processed.
- As you are done with the IRCTC account and your bank’s MMID, a One Time Password or OTP will be sent to you from your bank.
- Now send the SMS to 139. It should read like BOOK (Train number) (Train code) Passenger name passenger gender, etc. you can book up to six seats through the SMS.
- IRCTC will send an SMS with fare and seat availability as well as the transaction ID.
- Send PAY IMPS IRCTC user ID to 139.
- As the confirmation message arrives, just show the message while you board the train or the checker comes. There is no need to print anything.
At the first go, the process may seem a bit complicated. But just think about standing the lines or the frustration in case of internet failure, soon you will get accustomed with this process. And considering a meagre fee of Rs. 3 per SMS and a lot of ease, booking tickets through SMS is really the dream of any Indian Railways traveller.
- Other Services –
Other than booking tickets, the Indian Railways SMS service is a complete information hub. Passengers can get a number of important answers from the service. The most common are:
- SMS Railway to 57886: This is for Indian Railways overall information like schedule, timetable, PNR status, search seat availability, etc. The return SMS would have all the options from which the sender will again choose and send.
- SMS IRTRAIN (Train Name) or IRTRAIN (Train No.) to 57886: This will show the time table of the train.
Another number, which has the same facility, is 139. By sending the right SMS, you can avail the right information;
- SMS PNR (10 digit PNR number) to 139 for any PNR enquiry.
- SMS AD (Train number) (Station STD code) to 139 to know the arrival and departure times.
- To know the seat accommodation, please SMS SEAT (Train number) (date of journey) (Station from: STD Code) (Station to: STD Code) (Class) (Quota) to 139