When you take the Indian railway portal (irctc.co.in) you can now see a message on right side which says “Please do not take printout of E-Tickets, Travel with electronic tickets”. The “slide show” continues to say “Save Paper, We can save 3 lakhs of A4 size paper everyday”. three hundred thousand? Well, good move! Late though. Better not think about the paper wasted in last 2-3 years. I really wanted something “like” this. But does the new “innovative” attempt by Indian Railways going to work? Before starting analysis, lets take a look at their detailed explanation.
Electronic Reservation Slip (ERS) – The printout in standard specified Performa containing reservation particulars, and instructions for use which can be used by the passenger along with the relevant authorized Identification, as travel authority for performing the journey.
Virtual Reservation Message (VRM) – A screen-shot of the e-ticket displayed through laptops/palmtops/ Mobile phone is referred as Virtual Reservation Message (VRM).
ERS/VRM along with any one of the eight prescribed ID proofs in original and the indication of the passenger(s)’ name(s) in the Reservation Chart will authorize the passenger to travel.
VRM combined with valid photo-id in original will be treated as an instrument on par with the ERS.
ERS/VRM along with one of the eight prescribed proofs of identity in original will also authorize the passenger to enter the platform on the day of journey and he/she will not be required to purchase platform ticket. ERS/VRM along with original id proof will be required to be produced on demand of Ticket Checking Staff on the platform.
Reference : Railway Board Letter No.2008/TG-I/10/P/SMS dated 20.07.2011
So, they are calling the new thing VRM: Virtual Reservation Message as opposed to ERS: Electronic(irony?) Reservation Slip. It says,”Carry your ticket in electronic mode using mobile, laptop, ipad”. As they used 3 words, lets split the scenario to 3 scenarios.
Most cellphones in India may not be having “proper” internet facilities ( minimum of 3G is required for irctc.co.in to load.). But most might be having a facility to display an image and a data cable. so they take a screenshot from somewhere and copy it to their cell. Here the best case is an iPhone or equivalent where we can use the touch screen to zoom it. But majority of phones need to do terrible stuff to get it zoomed if the TTE (travelling ticket examiner) requires you to. The following might happen most likely in this case.
Passenger taking a cellphone from his pocket and says: “Here is the ticket”
TTE: “Where? I cant see a thing.”
There is an image that comes to my mind when I think about flipping opening my laptop while trying to get up from the upper birth of a sleeper when the TTE wakes me up.
For facts about the photo, see: The Case of a Dumb Email Forward
Hope that says it all.
This might work, as it can display a ticket fully and somewhat easy to carry. But how many people have it? Personally, as I have a laptop and an iPod Touch, I don’t have a use for something intermediate and I’m not going to buy it for sake of carrying VRMs.
A Humble Suggestion
Trees can be saved better. Think about why are we taking an ERS. What information is getting verified there? Probably the PNR number. One cannot argue that the irctc account in which the ticket is booked is verified against the ID Proof. According to IRCTC policy, Any one of the passenger can show ID proof. So its about the PNR number. If feasible it would be nice if a passenger is allowed to carry the PNR number ( any form say as an SMS draft, note etc) and the ID proof, which simplifies verification like never before.
This is a good “attempt” from IRCTC and should be appreciated. But as a final verdict, I should say, “Try this at your own risk!” You can satisfy the TTE in train. But an RPF personnel or a cop at a train station may not be aware of this and he might demand ticket in hard copy and if you don’t have it, there is a great chance of unnecessary trouble.