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Much-touted service: AGP report comes down hard on Railways’ e-ticketing system

LAHORE: The much-touted e-ticketing service offered by Pakistan Railways is not much of a computerised system and far off from efficiency, a recent study conducted by the Auditor-General of Pakistan revealed.

According to the study, the system is rigged with a number of deficiencies and bottlenecks causing adverse effects on the earnings of the cash-strapped state-owned entity.

These deficiencies are not only causing loss of revenues but also providing loopholes to users resulting in malpractices in the reservation of seats/berths, it was further stated.

The computerised reservation system (CRS) has a direct impact on the earnings of the organisation therefore an effective CRS provides timely and accurate information to intended travellers, enhances customer satisfaction and increases the scope of earnings.

This is not the first time the audit report pointed towards issues in the CRS.

The recently introduced software for CRS at the railways headquarters and station reservation office fails to meet the expectations of the customers. Additionally, the management has also received several complaints from travellers as well as from reservation staff after which customers reverted to the old system of booking tickets.

Reported problems

The new software, according to the reservation staff, created trouble for them as the system often showed an error while entering data and would abruptly shut down for hours resulting in long queues and squabbling travelers.

The report already pointed out that the procurement policy should be designed to deal with current technologies and future requirements consistent with best practices.

“Pakistan Railways’ CRS should be improved with latest IT resources, while planning the procurement of any IT system, PR needs to obtain the user requirement, ensure timely procurement and compatibility with existing systems,” said the AGP’s report.

The newly introduced registration software launches on more than one system – an error already pointed in the audit report-which could leave the system open to the risk of misuse.

The report added that while using the system there was no restriction for the user to login from a different location. For example, while sitting in the headquarters one could login from the Lahore station, which resulted in inaccurate figures of revenue of the locations and non-reconciliation of the cash in hand.

It was also noted that the reservation system did not support production of bilingual tickets and that the software was not linked with the external booking agencies like the Pakistan Post office, NADRA, Pracs or other city booking agencies.

The report said that the system did not cover all type of passenger ticketing, including printed card ticket, blank paper ticket, excess fare ticket and monthly season ticket.

It also has not been able to produce complete accounting and statistical information relating to passenger traffic and has been unable to calculate the refund percentage which was entered in the system manually.

The report said that only 11% passengers reserved their seat through the computerised reservation from 2009-2011, depicting that PR has yet to take 89% of the passengers on board and only 31 out of 808 stations were computerised.

It said that there is no structure or documented disaster recovery policy for CRS and in case of physical or man-made disaster, no alternate site with reserves is available for transacting reservations.

The report suggested the management was recommended to use this technology to increase its customer base. E-ticketing, though has been re-launched last month after a gap of almost nine years, failed to generate a large response from public.

Courtesy : Express Tribune



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