Saturday, August 26, 2017

Around 84 pct of Railways revenue comes via digital modes: Mohd Jamshed, member-traffic, Railway Board
The carrier has introduced various initiatives, especially after demonetisation, to offer customers ways to make payments through digital modes.
By: Saurabh Kumar | Updated: August 26, 2017 


Mohd Jamshed, member-traffic, Railway Board.

Revenues of Indian Railways are more than Rs 1.65 lakh core per annum and moving all revenue streams to digital modes is a challenge. The carrier has introduced various initiatives, especially after demonetisation, to offer customers ways to make payments through digital modes. In an interview with Saurabh Kumar, Mohd Jamshed, member-traffic, Railway Board, talks about the challenges and steps planned to overcome those. Edited excerpts:

What is the status of digital transactions in railways?

The digitisation of transactions has brought transparency and efficiency in the system and controlled the menace of touts. Railways carries about 23 million passengers per day. In 2016, around 60% of revenue in the reserved segment and around 6% of revenue in the unreserved segment were collected digitally. After demonetisation, a number of measures have been taken to promote digital transactions as a result of which around 70% of revenue in the reserved segment and 9% in the unreserved segment are at present collected through digital means. In the unreserved segment, around 80% of transactions are of less than Rs 100, so it is not easy to digitise these transactions beyond a limit. About 52% of total passenger earnings are collected through digital means now.

On the freight side, revenue from digital transactions has increased from 97% to 99.7 % post demonetisation due to a slew of measures. Of Rs 1.65 lakh core of annual revenue of railways, around 84% is collected through digital means. The remaining amount is basically demurrage or wharfage charges which is penalty for detention of wagons and goods on railway premises. Efforts are on to make this cashless as well by installing PoS machines at major goods sheds. We have installed around 800 PoS machines at various parcel and good sheds. On the payments side, which includes salaries and payment to contractors, among others, almost 100% payment is made through cashless means except some ex-gratia payments and some others which are paid in cash in emergency situations.

What efforts have you made to promote digital transactions in the passenger segment?

We have adopted a three-pronged strategy to promote digital transactions — providing enabling facilities, offering financial incentives and conducting awareness campaigns to educate users. The enabling facilities include next generation e-ticketing with a capacity to book 15,000 tickets per minute, launch of integrated mobile application ‘Rail SAARTHI’, installation of around 8,600 PoS (point of sale) machines at more than 4,000 locations of railways, integration of BHIM/UPI and mobile wallets as payment options, acceptance of payment through international debit/credit cards, proliferation of automatic ticket vending machines and cash or smart card operated ticket vending machines at stations, among others.
Yatri Ticket Suvidha Kendras, the authorised ticket booking agents of railways, have also been advised to make digital modes of payments available to customers.

To incentivise people to opt for digital transactions, we have withdrawn the service charge from booking of e-tickets, offered free insurance of `10 lakh on e-tickets and 0.5% discount on season tickets purchased through digital means. We have conducted a number awareness campaigns at railways stations with the support of banks to educate people about advantages of digital transactions and demonstrated the convenience of using these modes of payment.

What are you doing to promote digital transaction for other receipts?

In other fields also, we are promoting digital transactions by offering a number of incentives such as a 5% discount on online payments made for availing of services such as e-catering, online booking of retiring rooms and wheel chairs. To provide enabling facilities, all the vendors working at the station and inside the trains are advised to offer digital means of transactions such as mobile wallets and PoS machines. In the new catering policy 2017, we have made it mandatory for contractors to make digital modes of payment available to customers. Now most of the services of railways such as retiring rooms, catering, bedroll or wheel chairs can be booked online or through mobile application and payment can be made through digital means. We have launched a scheme of digi-pay stations where payment through digital means is possible for all the services available at the station.

How are you planning to further promote digital transactions?

At present, around 60 crore digital transactions are made per year over railways. We plan to increase digital transactions to 100 crore in 2017-18. The biggest challenge before us is to promote digital transactions in unreserved segment which are large in number but low in value.

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