The current COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the way we lead our lives today. It has also altered the way companies operate, taking precautions to curb the spread and stick to the delivery of goods. Indian Railways has gone back and forth to restart travel in recent months. And now, it is taking signals from the advanced air transportation system to introduce a contactless ticketing system at rail stations.

Railways plan to issue QR code-enabled tickets, which can be easily scanned at the station or on the train to verify your identity. The train driver can use a portable device or rely on a mobile phone to scan these tickets, further simplifying the entire process. This also applies to platform tickets and not just train tickets.

Everything you need to know about new QR code tickets

In an official statement, the Chairman of the Board of Railways, VK Yadav, revealed that more than 85 percent of train tickets are currently reserved online. It’s easy to add a QR code to these entries, but what about offline entries? Will offline platform tickets also have QR codes? The answer to these questions can be found here.

I bet many of you may already be familiar with the online ticketing process through IRCTC. A text message with your travel information is currently sent to your mobile phone when you complete a reservation. Well, this text message will soon include a link with the QR code that can be scanned to verify passenger details. It will also be applied to physical tickets, as confirmed by the President of the Railways Board.

It would be interesting to see if Indian Railways will add these QR codes to the physical ticket itself, if not immediately, perhaps in the future. They are taking another page from the airline’s system book to present a single ticket for connecting trains soon. It means you won’t have to coordinate schedules and book multiple tickets if you need to take more than one train to get to your destination. An AI system will measure demand for certain destinations, connecting trains, and present you with a complete plan at once.

How does the contactless ticket system work?

The next obvious question is: when and where could you experience this contactless ticketing system?

You can experience the contactless system immediately. A pilot project was introduced that sees all passengers enter the station through an airport-like check-in system at the Prayagraj Junction of North Central Railway. The process has been explained in detail by a North Central Railway spokesperson:

The QR code on a passenger ticket is scanned the moment they enter the station facilities. Passenger data, along with scan time, is updated in the ticket database in real-time. Indian Railways has also established self-check-in counters to further minimize contact. The passenger then undergoes a thermal evaluation before boarding a train.

Ticket verification personnel on board the train obtain all passenger information on the mobile device. Includes smart information for the coach on the number of births and boarding passes reserved and unreserved, thanks to the initial scan at the entrance. All of this information will be updated in real-time, allowing Indian Railways to use this data (to confirm tickets on the waiting list) before the train reaches the next stop.

The QR code ticket system will also allow Indian Railways to start the journey into a paperless future (pun intended!). You still don’t plan to stop using paper. However, the decision to facilitate online booking of all reserved, unreserved, and online platform tickets will help to greatly reduce their use soon.

The Chairman of the Railways Board also added that the IRCTC website will be renewed to further simplify the reservation process. It will provide a personalized experience, complete with hotel and food reservations. Other initiatives include the digitization of monitoring assets, including tracks, signaling, OHE, and train satellite tracking in association with ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) in real-time.

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