The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed how we go about our lives nowadays. It has also altered how businesses operate, taking precautions to curb the spread and stick to delivering goods. The Indian Railways has gone back and forth in restarting travel over the past couple of months. And now, it is taking cues from the advanced air travel system to introduce a contactless ticketing system at railway stations.

The railways are planning to issue QR code-enabled tickets, which can easily be scanned at the station or on the train to verify your identity. The train conductor can either use a handheld device or rely on a mobile phone to scan these tickets, further simplifying the whole process. This also applies to platform tickets and not just train tickets.

All you Need to Know About New QR Code Tickets

In an official statement, Railway Board Chairman VK Yadav revealed that more than 85 percent of train tickets are currently booked online. It’s easy to add a QR code to these tickets but what about offline tickets? Will offline platform tickets also have QR codes? Answer to these questions can be found right here.

I bet a lot of you may already be familiar with the online ticketing process via IRCTC. A text message with your travel information is currently sent to your mobile phone when you complete a booking. Well, this text message will soon include a link with the QR code that can be scanned to verify the passenger details. It will also apply to physical tickets, as confirmed by the Railway Board Chairman.

It would be interesting to see if Indian Railways will add these QR codes to the physical ticket itself – if not right away then perhaps in the future. They are taking another page from the airline system’s book to soon introduce a single ticket for connecting trains. It means you won’t have to coordinate times and book multiple tickets if you need to take more than one train to reach your destination. An AI system will gauge the demand for certain destinations, the connecting trains, and present you a complete plan in one go.

How does the Contactless Ticketing System Work?

The next obvious question is – when and where could you experience this contactless ticketing system?

You can experience the contactless system right away. A pilot project that sees all of the passengers enter the station via an airport-like check-in system has been introduced at Prayagraj Junction of North Central Railway. The process has been explained in detail by a spokesperson of the North Central Railway:

The QR code on a passenger’s ticket is scanned the moment they enter into the station premises. The passenger data, along with the time of scanning, is updated in the ticket database in real-time. Indian Railways has also set up self-check-in counters to further minimize contact. The passenger then undergoes thermal screening before boarding a train.

The ticket checking staff aboard the train gets all of the passenger information on the mobile device. It includes coach-wise information on the number of booked, unbooked births and boarding passes – thanks to the initial scan at entry. All of this information will be updated in real-time, enabling Indian Railways to use of this data (to confirm waitlist tickets) before the train reaches the next stop.

The QR code ticketing system will also enable Indian Railways to kick-off the journey towards a paperless future (pun intended!). It does not plan on going completely paperless just yet. The decision to facilitate online booking of all reserved, unreserved, and platform tickets online will, however, help vastly reduce its use in the near future.

The Railway Board Chairman also added that the IRCTC website will be revamped to further simplify the ticking booking process. It will provide a personalized experience, complete with hotel and meal booking in tow. Other initiatives include the digitization of monitoring assets, including tracks, signaling, OHE, and satellite-tracking of trains in partnership with ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) in real-time.