Once considered the most stressful aspect of a train journey, the three-decade-old passenger reservation system of the Indian Railways is set for another revamp that could see the weeding out of “malafide users” gaming the system with fake IDs.
According to a person privy to the development, work on the PRS revamp would be started later this year after a report from Grant Thornton is made available. The advisory firm has been engaged by IRCTC, a public sector corporation, to study the existing system and suggest improvements.
For decades the reservation system was laden with uncertainty for ordinary Indians, with many tickets set aside for bureaucrats, politicians and others, particularly for last-minute travel. This changed for the better in 2005 when the railways introduced e-ticketing. But the popularity of the new system also means the server can be overloaded at times.
The revamp will focus on two key aspects. One is to enhance the capacity of the PRS to handle larger numbers of transactions seamlessly.
This would require strengthening the core application and backbone infrastructure by providing new functionalities.
Second, checks would be built into the software to weed out malafide users who put pressure on the system and take advantage of loopholes to carry on transactions, especially bulk blocking of emergency Talkaal tickets.
Queries sent to the ministry of railways seeking details of the proposed changes remained unanswered at the time of going to the press.
Along with strengthening of the PRS, the revamp would also strengthen and upgrade the capacity of the IRCTC website and servers so that they can handle greater traffic with minimal turnaround time. Reserved tickets booked online through the website and app in 2019-20 was three times more than tickets purchased at counters.
The IRCTC Next Generation e-Ticketing (NGeT) System, launched in 2014 for strengthening online ticketing, is continuously being upgraded for its capacity. E-ticketing had reached up to 80.5% share (till Dec-2021) of total reserved tickets since 2005.
IRCTC has more than 100 million registered users, out of whom 76 million are active users. CRIS, or the Centre For Railway Information Systems, has been asked to seek fresh advise from Gartner, a leading technology research and consulting company, for the refinement of the e-ticketing interface.
PRS handles reservations, changes, cancellations and refunds, booking 1.6 million seats and berths daily and handling more than 100 million transactions per day.
Designed, developed, implemented and run by CRIS, the system can handle up to 28,000 transactions per minute. A record 26,458 tickets were booked in a minute on 5 March, 2020. The fear is that the system may soon be overwhelmed with this exponential growth in transactions; hence the need for an early revamp. The last major revamp was done in December 2020.
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