Indian railways will accept SMS as a ticket on mobile, saves some paper

Indian railways will be accepting a text message (SMS) on your mobile phone as a valid ticket. Passengers don’t have to carry paper printouts of their eTickets any more. West Bengal chief minister , and former railway minister, Mamata Banerjee has launched this public friendly facility in Kolkata.

The news also talks about mobile ticketing applications being downloaded on to mobile phones. Though I couldn’t find a way to do it on the Indian Railways website, showing a text message as a ticket is good enough to start with. Down south, lot of buses and bus services within the purview of have started accepting SMS as a ticket already.

Indian railways accepting an SMS would mean, reams of paper and tons of money is saved for IT organizations. I am just saying.

The transmogrification of a railway ticket is very interesting. First, as far as I can remember, there were thin and small cardboard tickets. These are the kind which are still disbursed by weighing machines in railway and bus stations across India. These cardboard tickets were replaced by printouts from a dot matrix printers. Computers and the not so ubiquitous internet meant the rise of print outs on plain A4 paper and their acceptance as valid tickets. With 800 million mobile connections in a country of 1.2 billion people, using  a mobile’s 160 character text message as a ticket is a logical next step.

Producing an SMS as a ticket does save a lot of paper. With the eTickets, people typically printed out the ticket, which if not configured correctly would print out two pages; thus wasting an additional paper and felling a tree or a branch. Taking out the print outs altogether, Indian railways has taken the hassle of printing out and carrying a ticket.

These are the days where an Indian will forget to wear underwear but will not forget his mobile phone. No one has to worry about forgetting to carry a train ticket.