SMS Gateway for Indian Railway passengers, alerts for PNR Status
Indian Railways added another milestone by launching yet another innovative scheme called the ‘SMS Gateway’, which will enable passengers to get SMS alerts on the status of reserved tickets. The ‘SMS Gateway’ which was developed by Centre for Railway information Systems (CRIS), an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Railways, was launched by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury here today on the occasion of a seminar on the theme “Role of IT in Rail Services – Present and Future”.
The seminar was organised by the Centre for Transportation Research and Management (CTRAM), an autonomous body of the Ministry of Railways. Present on occasion the were Shri Arunendra Kumar, Chairman, Railway Board, Shri D. P. Pande, Member Traffic, Shri Kul Bhushan, Member Electrical and Shri Alok Johri, Member Mechanical, of Railway Board.
The ‘SMS Gateway’ project will be used to send SMS alerts to passengers in case of status change in the PRS tickets, as compared to the initial booking status (For example W/L to RAC, RAC to CNF, W/L to CNF). SMS alerts prior to chart preparation will be sent once a day, in case of status change only, beginning from 5 days before the journey date. The SMS alerts after chart preparation (which is normally done 3-4 hours before train departure), will convey the actual Berth No., Coach No. and RAC No. for those passengers whose final Charting status has changed as compared to the initial booked status.
It is estimated that a large number of SMS alerts will be sent on daily basis (approx. 4 lakh), hence the system will be made ONLINE in phases. Initially, the system would be configured for sending post chart alerts in a few selective Rajdhani trains, followed by other Mail Express trains. Subsequently the pre chart alerts will be enabled.
This facility will greatly reduce the last minute enquiry rush on the PRS websites and Call Centre as well as reduce the crowding near the pasted Chart locations on the Railway Platforms. This service will be provided free of cost to the users. This will enhance the image of Indian Railways.
Taking the things forward, CRIS took up the project for setting up of SMS Gateway of sending alerts to passengers, sanctioned by the Railways Board. Till now passengers can find about their PNR status through website enquiries or Call Centre (139) or IVRS or SMS enquiry. Railways decided to proactively send the SMS alerts to passengers at no extra charges to them.
During the development of the application for sending SMS alerts, considerable challenges were faced, to ensure that there is no adverse impact in the normal functioning of the backend main PRS system (CONCERT), which is one of the largest ticketing applications in the world. M/s Mahindra Comiva and Velti System, India were the technical partners of CRIS for making this project a success.