IRCTC's SMS-based ticketing service goes live
IRCTC’s ambitious SMS-based ticketing system is a reality now. Railways minister Mallikarjun Kharge launched this new system yesterday and said that the service aims to “empower the common man who does not have access to internet and cannot afford to buy smartphones.”
The SMS-based ticketing system, a pilot project by IRCTC, will also effectively eliminate the menace of touts fleecing unsuspecting travellers at the time of booking tickets. Kharge added that this new system will prove especially beneficial to labourers and workers when booking tickets to their native towns. Such a system is apt for them since it is quick and hassle-free.
Happy journeys indeed!
This SMS-based ticket service can be availed through two numbers – 139 and 5676714. Those looking to book tickets by sending an SMS to 139 will have to first register their mobile numbers with IRCTC and their banks. Over 25 banks are offering this facility at the moment. Users will then receive an MMID or Mobile Money Identifier and OTP or one time password from the bank for payment authorisation. This SMS-based service is available to all mobile subscribers.
To book the ticket, an SMS will have to be sent in the following format –
BOOK <TrainNo><FromStn.Code><ToStn.Code> <TravelDate (DDMM)><Class><Passenger-Name><Age><M/F>
Upon sending this SMS to 139 users will receive Transaction ID alongwith other details. To make the payment, they will have to send an SMS to 139 in the following format –
PAY <Transaction ID as received><IMPS><Your MMID as received from the bank><OTP ><IRCTCUserID>
Users can also book their tickets by sending an SMS to 5676714. They will have to first register their mobile number with IRCTC and m-wallet, and send an SMS to 5676714 in the following format –
START <irctc user Id>
To book the ticket, users will have to send an SMS to 5676714 in the following format –
BOOK<From stn.code>,<to stn.code>, <DDMMYY>, <Trainno>,<Class>,<passenger name>,<age>,<M/F>
Once they have sent that SMS, users will receive the transaction number on their phones. A second SMS will have to be sent to make the payment. The format is as below –
“PAY <transaction no>, MPAY, <m-PIN>” for authorizing payment through MPAY
“PAY <mobileno>,<mmid>,<amount>, <transaction Id>,<OTP>” for authorizing payment through IMPS.
Once they’ve made the payment, users will receive a booking confirmation SMS on their phone.
The SMS-based ticketing service through BSNL will require users to have a BSNL SIM card, a Java-enabled phone and an Andhra Bank Prepaid card. This system in particular is a menu-based one, meaning the user will have to enter details in a step-by-step process. To register, they will have to first install the application and select the “Register” option to get the Mpin. To book tickets through BSNL, users will have to first click the BSNL Prepaid Card icon and select Ticketing > Train (IRCTC). They have to provide details of their journey such as the name of their starting and destination stations, train number, date of their travel, class, quota, and passenger details.
Airtel subscribers can book their tickets through USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data). Airtel subscribers will have to dial *400# to register for Airtel money. They will have to then load cash on this or recharge at any Airtel money outlet. Upon recharging their account, Airtel users will have to dial the same number and select the book tickets option. Once there, they will have to select the Reservation option and enter their IRCTC User ID. Upon logging in, users will have to enter their ticket details including name of the station, train number, date of travel, class etc., and then enter mPIN to authorise the payment. The user then receives a confirmation SMS, which he can produce on the day of his travel. Those keen on booking tickets this way will have to first get their mobile money account opened from their bank or RBI-approved agencies offering this facility.
While its fate will only be known eventually, the ability to book railway tickets on mobile is interesting in concept. What’s even more interesting is that this system works on the most basic phones and does not require an active Internet connection. The user will receive the ticket details via SMS upon booking. He can then produce the SMS and an original, valid ID proof on the day of his travel.