New Delhi: Booking a train ticket would soon be easier as the Indian Railways is preparing to set up Passenger Reservation System (PRS) counters at Post Offices across the country.
This was announced by Minister of State (MoS) for Railways Rajen Gohain in Rajya Sabha recently.
“PRS counters at Post offices are being opened based on technical and commercial feasibility where there are no Railway Reservation Counters in nearby areas.” the MoS Railways said in a written reply to a question related to the functioning of the IRCTC website on Friday.
For opening PRS counters, the Indian Railways has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Department of Posts, the minister said.
At present, PRS counters are available at nearly 280 post offices all over India.
Online booking of reserved tickets on the official website of Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation – www.irctc.co.in – has become very popular.
Reportedly, about 65 per cent of total reserved tickets are now booked online.
At present, the highest number of Passenger Reservation System counters at the post offices are available in Karnataka (44), followed by Maharashtra (36), Andhra Pradesh (24) and Uttar Pradesh (23). However, there are very few PRS counters in Sikkim (0), followed by Mizoram (1) and Meghalaya (2).
The announcement on setting up of more PRS counters came days after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in his Union Budget 2018 speech on Thursday, announced a capital expenditure of Rs 1.48 lakh crore for the expansion and modernisation of the Indian Railways.
'Strengthening the railway network and enhancing Indian Railways’ carrying capacity has been a major focus of the Government. Railways’ Capex for the year 2018-19 has been pegged at Rs 1,48,528 crore, '' the FM said.
Addressing the lawmakers, FM Jaitley said that ''most of this money will be spent on capacity expansion'' while also stating that this remains one of the most important priorities for Indian Railways right now.
The Finance Minister also set a target of doubling 18,000 km of lines and said that gauge conversion is currently underway to eliminate capacity constraints.
Outlining the other priorities of the Narendra Modi government for the improvement of Indian Railways, FM Jaitley highlighted that new world-class train sets are being manufactured, dedicated freight corridors are coming up and electrification is being taken up as a priority task.
Indian Railways is expected to explore other avenues to raise funding for its ambitious projects, such as conversion to broad gauge and signalling automation and electrification, FM Jaitely said as part of his Union Budget speech in Parliament.
While stating that the safety of passengers remains a top priority for the government, Arun Jaitley said that all railways stations and trains will have Wi-Fi and CCTVs progressively.
''Wi-fi and CCTVs will be progressively provided in all trains and there will be escalators at stations with 25,000- plus footfall,'' the FM said.
The minister also pointed out that 600 stations have been earmarked for modernisation by the railways.
The focus will also be on a suburban rail network in Mumbai and Bangalore, he added.
(With PTI inputs)