Indian Railways is on its path to rapid progress with several out of the box initiatives launched in quick succession over the last few months. While the Government of India is looking to embed cashless transactions in every sector possible only last month the Indian Railways has joined the party introducing the option of using debit and credit cards to pay penalties and any other additional fares.
Despite Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s promise to complete the project by September 2016 the company failed to do so and could only install WiFi services at 100 railway stations by 2016 year-end. However, as very few players are there in the game Google in February 2017 bagged another $24 Million dollar project to install 200 WiFi hotspots across Pune as part of Smart Cities project.
Railway stations in rural areas will have kiosks with Wi-FI that will become digital hot spots offering services like digital banking, Aadhaar generation issuing government certificates including birth and death certificates and filing taxes and paying bills among others. As per the timeline while 600 stations are targeted to be provided with the Wi-FI facility by March 2018 the Railways aim to cover all 8,500 stations by March 2019.
The Railway Ministry is further planning to set up one of the world’s largest digital display networks in India. The centrally-connected digital screens will also beam infotainment videos as the railway’s eyes to boost its non-ticket revenues. As per the latest data currently, 15,000 e-tickets are being issued per minute and 68 percent of total tickets purchased are through digital platforms.
In a recent meeting, 1200 stations have already been identified to be equipped with this services. For the rest 7300 stations, any development in this regard is yet to take place. So far, the WiFi installation has been very slow due to the involvement of very few private partners like Google, considering the fact that RailTel has already connected over 4500 towns with optical fiber.