Indian Railways – Automatic Ticket Kiosks

It was 5:10 AM on 26th January when I reached Bangalore railway station and I was supposed to travel by general compartment. The ticketing counters open by 5 AM, and there was a long ‘hanuman tail’ queue in almost all counters. I was cursing myself for getting late by 10 minutes (normally I go sharp 5 AM and stand in the as the first person in the queue) and thinking whether I will get a place to sit in the 6:30 AM train to Chennai. Also our Indian junta was giving me ‘dhakka’ from all directions 🙁

All of a sudden I discovered a ATM like machine with touchscreen saying ‘Swipe your Credit/Debit card and get tickets to Chennai and Mysore’ and I was taken by surprise. In the past I have done some case studies about photo kiosks and with lots of excitement, I approached the kiosk. It had a simple touchscreen which had four different combinations for Chennai and Mysore. I selected ‘chennai’ and ‘super-fast’ combination and swiped my debit card in slot provided in the right hand side. Thats it! After about 30 seconds the ticket was automatically printed in the left side slot. All of a sudden people saw me getting my tickets printed and I gave a small demo to some of them before rushing into my train to catch my seat in general compartment. The kiosk picture shown below.

This kiosk is been launched not more than three weeks back and the experience was simply awesome! It was promoted by Canara Bank in association with Indian Railways with a meager service charge of Rs.5. It saved time of so many people and eased the queue for so many people as most of them were traveling to Chennai or Mysore. Being an embedded systems engineer I cannot stop appreciating this and I saw technology really making a difference in India. But the unfortunate point is people were not aware of this kiosk until I started printing the tickets for the first time that day.

This kiosk should be launched for any station to any station along with a touch screen in local language. Today almost all the government employees, farmers and students have debit cards which would definitely help them to get tickets quickly. In my blog about Indian railways, I briefly touched about the potential of Indian railways and how technology need to play a major role in that. Also last week I came across the article where Indian railway is becoming net-savvy by giving WiFi connections in railways. After my kiosk experience I really get the ‘aha’ experience of technology.