New Delhi: After enlisting the services of several banks and post offices to sell its tickets, Railways now plan to utilise thousands of petrol pumps across the country for the purpose.
"We had a meeting with top officials of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL). We received positive responses from them," P K Goel, Chairman and Managing Director of Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) told PTI when asked about the proposal.
Both HPCL and BPCL have 15,000 petrol pumps across the country and if the plan materialises it would change the way people make train reservations across the country.
In order to provide reservation facilities and other information related to trains to the passengers, Goel said, Indian Railways is also launching call centres throughout the country which will be connected with a single number (139).
"We have already given tenders for Service Provider. We have more or less decided with Spanko Tele Services/BSNL to provide services," he said adding that "we will be setting Centres in the North-South, East-West, which would cater to the needs of the people in their respective areas".
Two such call centers – one each in Patna and Bangalore – are already operating on trial basis and passengers are utilising them to get information related to their journey including movements of trains and reservation status.
Railways have already tied up with SBI to install atleast 8,000 ATMS at stations across the country, which will allow passengers to make reservations or cancel their tickets.
A similar arrangement has been made with the Postal Department to extend such facilities to some of the most backward areas in the country.
"This would help passengers who have to travel several miles even to book their tickets. They can now book their tickets at a Post-Office nearest to their residence," officials said.
Asked how long it would take for the plan to materialise, Goel said, "It all depends upon the success of the scheme.... It should go through the test (technically), generate adequate revenue to sustain itself and should be acceptable to the people."
However, the IRCTC Chief hoped that the process of consultations will be completed by the end of this month and "the scheme could be launched by next month".
In order to assimilate technological changes in various fields, Indian Railways has not only been upgrading its operational facilities but also modernising existing tracks, rolling stocks and wagons, besides passenger amenities, the officials said.
"We are upgrading and modernising, in first phase, at least 17 stations across the country including New Delhi, Hubali (Kolkata), Vijayawada, Secunderabad," they said.
Railways have also decided to upgrade with at least 350 stations across the country- five in each of the 69 divisions.
These stations will have some of the most modern facilities including reservation through ATMs and staying facilities for passengers at Rail Yatri Niwas to be built under public-private partnerships.