Platform Tickets by Indian Railways

Update 1 (dated 25th July 2011)

This might be old news, but KSRTC now accepts ticket confirmations on your mobile. You can now present the SMS confirmation or email that you received when you booked the ticket and present your original ID proof. Now, all counting days before the Indian Railways implement this.  (Source)


Yesterday I had to visit the City railway station in Bangalore to send off my grandparents who were travelling to Coimbatore. Their tickets were booked online via IRCTC and they had the ticket printouts already with them. But, I had to take platform tickets. Am trying to document the various places it might be available and what is the easiest solution to this problem:

Vending Machines:

The City station already have ticket vending machines. The sad part is, you have to insert One Rupee coins (only the new models, not the old models) in the slot and pray very hard that the machine accepts it. Most of the times, people are out of change. I hardly have 3 or 4 rupees by way of change in my wallet. Which means the vending machines can’t be used. Also, these machines are out-of-order most of the times.

STD booths:

The second option is to check out the various STD booths within the station premises. Generally they have tickets, but then, if your luck is really bad (mine always is, when I try to buy platform tickets), they will be out-of-stock (I know, these were the exact words used yesterday in a booth).

Ticket Counters:

If you have visited the station in the last month or so, you would have noticed that the ticket counter for unreserved tickets have been moved to the building on the right side of the main station. I didnt know this until I started searching for the ticket counters. Only then did I realize that the counters have been moved. One good thing is, they have a separate line for platform tickets, unlike previously, where unreserved and platform tickets were being sold in the same line. This is the easiest way to get a platform ticket.

But then, why do we need this hassel at all? Why do we need a paper ticket which, at the max, will be used for one hour or so? Why not use technology which is generally available in your hands – your mobile phone.


The Indian Railways need to set up a ticketing system such that your mobile phone will be used to generate ticket and pay for it using your mobile balance. For ex., a premium SMS number must be set up (letz say 1430) and all you have to do is send a blank SMS to this premium number. I don’t mind paying Rs.5 (instead of the usual platform ticket Rs.3). Once the blank SMS is sent, you will receive a SMS from the Indian Railways which says that this SMS is the platform ticket and will be valid for 2 hours starting now (upto HH:MM:SS).

Nobody can deny the fact that mobiles have penetrated upto the very basic level of Indian population. When I was going through the station, I noticed almost everybody in there having a mobile phone. If this method is implemented, then this process can be completely automated. Also, think of the expenses of paper and printing charges for the platform tickets, whose lifespan is, at the most, 2 hours.

Update 1:

As mentioned in the comments, what if there is a requirement for multiple platform tickets. Simple, just enter the number of tickets as the SMS content and send it away. It will be blank if you need one ticket or enter the number of tickets that needs to be procured.

Also, another thing that needs to be taken into consideration is the mobile balance and how the payment is made. The cost of the tickets will be deducted from the mobile balance of the subscriber. If it is a prepaid SIM, then a check will be made with the mobile operator (aka Airtel or vodafone) and then the amount will be deducted. If there is no balance left, then a return SMS will be sent saying no tickets cos of no balance. If it is a postpaid SIM, the ticket cost will be added to the monthly bill.

6 thoughts on “Platform Tickets by Indian Railways

  • February 1, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Great idea…. thought there are some challenges:

    what if I want to buy multiple platform tickets, say 3 for 3 people to get in. I think the SMS can be in the format of “PT 3” (meaning 3 platform tickets) and the reply can confirm the same, deducting 15 rs instead of 5.

    Try contacting someone at IRCTC they handle the website and all I guess…. even NGPay has partnership with IRCTC, they can workout something coz NgPay is already mobile based

    • February 1, 2011 at 2:10 pm

      Actually I thought of this scenario after I published the post. Will put up an update.


  • February 1, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Very good idea, Deepak. Do you think the expense on the part of government to collect the platform ticket charge from mobile operators will be lesser than the current system?

    • February 1, 2011 at 7:37 pm

      That can only be found out by doing a cost analysis and compare both the systems. For example, the advantages of the new system will be lesser expenses on printing tickets and lesser nan power requirement.

      however, when it comes to mobile phones payment, you will have to take into consideration the cut the phone operators will take.

      So, only a person who had the complete financial details of railways will be able to make this cost analysis…

  • February 4, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    do you happen to realize that almost 50% of the indian population is illiterate and though our paper walla, mochi,pan walla happen to have phones, they do not actively use messaging system on their phones. Also the last time I bought a platform ticket (more or less 5 years ago), It was a small stub issued by the agent and was made of recycled paper…Has that changed???? isn’t this a good thing?

    • February 4, 2011 at 8:46 pm

      What you say is true, Gowri. That is why I said ticketing through mobile phones must be an option. Most people who buy platform tickets are in the railway station for a maximum of 30 minutes. but one spends more or less the same time for buying the platform tickets.


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