Business Idea : Train / Flight Ticket Printing Machine

Posted on January 17th, 2008 in business , ideas , technology - 19 comments

Recently I was booking few train tickets for my in-laws at IRCTC website, which btw is a wonderful website that makes the whole train reservation affair so simple. Just then I have realized that even though you can book tickets online, you still need to carry a printout of the ticket when you board the train. I see 2 different problems here,

  • Access to printer and internet connection are not always possible. Just like the case above, even though I could book the tickets, my in-laws still had to go to internet cafe and get the ticket printout. This is annoying not only because they don’t know firefox from just a fox, but also they loose precious time and money while doing this.
  • People forget to carry the printouts quite often and the consequences are meaningless. The importance given to the actual printout over whether the payment is done, whether the person is present is mind-boggling.

So here is a simple business idea for any willing soul, a ticket printing machine that accepts the PNR number and secret code (just so that anybody else wouldn’t print your ticket) along with a 5 rupee coin and prints out the ticket in return.

IRCTC / Flight ticket printing machine - business idea

Here is how this can work,

  • First up, when you reserve an e-ticket at IRCTC or other partner sites (like cleartrip or airdeccan.net etc.), you will mention a 4 digit pass code as well
  • Then you show up at the station (well, to begin with the idea can be implemented in large train stations like Chennai central, SBC, Mumbai CST etc.), fetch out a 5 rupee coin and put it in the slot of ticket printing machine
  • Then you will enter the PNR code and passcode using the touch screen. The system will contact the partner site (like IRCTC etc.) and fetch the ticket printout for you
  • Then it will fire the printout from the connected printer, you grab it and move towards your respective platform

I think the best companies to implement this could be banks, they have atms near transportation places (like railway stations, airports etc.), they have computer, network connection, paper and printing mechanism ready and they are already partners with travel sites (like IRCTC, cleartrip, makemytrip etc.). Better still, they need not even charge money from you, instead they can take the money from your debit / credit card. This way they could remove the need for passcode as well.

What do you think?

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19 Responses to “Business Idea : Train / Flight Ticket Printing Machine”

  1. karts says:

    Nice that u gave a suggestion for a commonly faced least concerned problem… but again the problem would be like another queue will build up near the touch screen monitor parallel to the ticket counter!!!
    ATM suggestion would be a nice pick as online booking mainly happen trough the credit/debit cards, where in respective banks can provide an option to print the tickets at minimal charge at any ATM’s

  2. Hypnos says:

    No sir can’t do. A thumbs down from the VC.

    First up: about forgetting printouts at home. What do printouts from your printer have that tickets from the counter/agent don’t? They are tickets for your journey – you are supposed to take them along. In reserved tickets also you have already made the payment, the provider is already richer by that many bucks and the passenger is right there on the seat.

    About this ticket printing machine, it just takes the original problem e-ticketing was supposed to solve (queues) and places it in front of a new state-of-the-art, expensive, lifeless kiosk. What is the use of spending internet hours booking a ticket if you have to stand in line to get that ticket on the station?

    I think the simple solution to this problem is if the providers don’t press for a physical copy of the ticket – you anyway have to carry your ID. And most providers out there do send you a confirmation SMS when tickets are booked. Cinema halls are doing it, it’s time transport providers did it – send the booking details to the mobile phone as an SMS. The TTE can check the mobile phone if the passenger is not carrying a ticket, and ofcourse the ID is there to prevent fraud and multiple claimants to the same PNR.

  3. Kapil says:

    The whole idea of going electronic goes for a toss. I just hate it when they say e-ticketing and e-banking because you have to yet take “print-outs” so I might as well let the travel agent or bank send me printed copies. And let’s not forget setting up these booths for printing means additional security required for them to be secured.

    yes, the mobile idea suggested by @hypnos sounds a lot more sense.

  4. Chandoo says:

    Thanks for wonderful comments everyone :)

    @karts … thanks for the comments, I have to disagree to the fact that this solution will result in another queue. Few points to support it,
    — unlike human operated counters, this one is simple, drop a coin, enter PNR/Pass and get your ticket, shouldn’t take even a minute once people are used to it.
    — this is another way of getting the ticket, not the only way. So the number of people who would be waiting infront of it would be minimal. Lets say 30% of entire reservations are done online, out of which 75% are e-tickets (e-ticket being easier than an i-ticket), that means ~20% of total reservation people using e-tickets. Lets assume 25% of these are in-need of this type of service, that leaves just 5% of the entire reserved category queuing in front of the kiosk. According to Southern Railway Zone wikipedia article, the number of passengers on this zone is roughly 50 crore per year, lets say 3% of them are going from Chennai, that means 1.5 cr for year, and roughly 41000 daily. Out of them ~50% have reservation, that is 20000, out of them 5% require our service, 1000 people, this looks like not such a big queue, given that they are spread across 20 odd hours of the day when more trains leave the station. Moreover, the kiosk need not be in the most crowded area of the station at all, it could be anywhere, like a coffee shop etc.

    I guess it would be even easier when ATMs/Banks take on this.

    @ hyponos.. excellent comment, :) but I disagree that people have printers at home, very few of us have a proper net connection itself, everyone know about broadband penetration in India, My guess is by using kiosks like this IRCTC is going to popularize a wonderful service and make it reach to masses :D

    Coming to the mobile sms thing, I am sure that is the ultimate stuff they can do, sometime back Lalu even promised that SMS based reservations would be rolled out, not sure where it is heading. I know most of the theaters, few private bus operators in chennai are doing it. Btw, the reason why the “paper printout” is mandated is to leave manual judgment in the system. Which is what leading to corruption, bribery at the TTE level and we all know about it. But again, if there is an SMS thing, I would be the first one to forget about a thing called “reservation counter” :D

    @kaps… you are bang on.. whatever they call it e-ticket, i-ticket, e-banking, 24*7, there is just too much manual interventions everywhere that we are unable to unleash the full potential of what e/i can bring to us. I guess we are inching towards that day by day :)

  5. Analyst says:

    SMS idea is the best and easily implementable.
    As for your idea, Railways should themselves setup a separate counter for ticket printing on quoting your PNR number…Just like we can get ticket print outs at the airports from respective airline counters.

  6. Gouri Sankar says:

    Good rey, nice and simple idea. Me too booking many tickets for relatives, who dont know anything about i-net. they are taking help of my frnds to get the hardcopies of tickets.

    I dont think banks will allow such a long time at atms to book tickets, generally we try to find all probabilities before confirm a ticket, that takes really long time and it may not possible at atms.

    And the queues at the printing boxes will never be big enough if you make the charge 10 rs. as we are discussing a case when a person can’t get a printout/forget/lost and does not have printer aviailability.

    But, I think the initialization cost of the project will be very huge (assume one print box in one station in india, otherwise it will not serve ur purpose) for Indian railways to put in for a less than 5% of online ticket bookings.

    How about the below alternate solution:
    By providing PNR# along with an identity card of the passenger the ticket should be avialbe in any counter with some cost (may be rs.10). That simplifies and task with the available resources.

    What do you say?

  7. Chandoo says:

    @shankar.. that is a wonderful comment. Thanks. Yeah, you are right, if only Indian Railways could do any of these, it would mean less trouble for everyone involved.. if only … welcome back btw..

  8. mazookar says:

    I don’t want to tell you how Romanian peoples have been buying the train tickets.
    It took at least 30 minutes to buy one.
    So this ideas i think is great

  9. kannan s says:

    dear sir
    iwant urs franchaisee. so kindly request give me our franchaisee

    thank u
    s.kannan
    annai anjana associate

  10. pnr status says:

    […] November, from Delhi to Hyderabad. The ticket which was bought under an offerremoving.blogspot.comBusiness Idea : Train / Flight Ticket Printing Machine Recently I was booking few train tickets for my in-laws at IRCTC website, which btw is a wonderful […]

  11. P.GOPAL RAO says:

    Your idea is excellent. There wont be much queue, if the system is faster, and installed at all major stations. Problem will be of coins, and mechanism failure after sometime. And the refilling of the staionery.

    In Mumbai this facility can be extended to recently installed touch screen machines in almost all stations of mumbai. Five rupees mentioned can be deducted from the smart card.

    Many touch screen dispnesers machine recently installed in mumbai, in almost all local stations is doing a good job, currently there is no queue in front of any machines. Some times this machine is not working, may be due to paper exhausted, or hanging. And again we have to stand in long queues. Otherwise the machine is doing excellent job.

    If this machines are online, then after validating pnr number and names or telephone number of the passenger, the ticket can be issued free of charge, even without smartcard.

  12. There is a device now available to book train tickets. It is connected to telephone line and that way connected to IRCTC.

  13. vivek says:

    http://irctc.co.in/

    This is also official website of Indian Railways. Here you can search all the trains including passenger and suburban trains except trains of Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad,Howrah suburban trains. You can not see the seat availability position in this website. you can see the current running status of the all the trains. while going through this website i have noticed that it has lots of double entry and wrong data like spelling mistake in the train names and train numbers also are wrong in so many cases. the most interesting thing i have seen that it shows the trains which not exist. the pages has not been updated from last 3 years except the train data all the pages are showing very old data which is giving it a bad name. the same thing we can say for this site also it also has the same problem which indianrail.gov.in have . you must know the train running date, train number, train name , station code, to get the information but here you have a drop menu box to choose the station name if you type 3 first correct word and then you can choose the station name. the other pages except the train data does not have any impact on the website.

    Pros: Running status of train, all the passenger and mail express trains of Indian railway,

    Cons: bad presentation, not user friendly, double entry, lots of wrong data , data of the trains which are not running and which has been renumbered shows both the numbers, spell mistake in train name, not updated other information pages.

    Star received: 1

    However, “search multiple stations in a city with a single search”, is not a unique feature http://irctc.co.in/ has been offering this feature for a while. We tested the site http://www.indiantrains.org/ and it worked reasonably well.

    http://www.indiantrains.org/

    I have not seen such a good site which has so many features in a single page. The better way to search Indian trains looks great and it open fast, no pop-up, user friendly. Every information in a single page. This concept is good and some of the features like calendar, train running day has not come in a single website in this reviews. the most important features i have seen in this site that if the user does not know the station code then also he can see all the trains and it is only website which have a drop menu box for the important station from where you can choose the station name and also it has a date calendar from you can choose the date and it show the running day of the train so that you can know which day of the week this train is running. the other most important feature I have seen in this website that it show the train which does not have the reservation coach for the benefit of the user and they are showing the passenger train also which is also not available in any website. This site will enable the users to search train route and compare fares of most of the trains in India.

    Pros: all the features which user need, open fast, user friendly, good look and interactive, update data regularly, new features

    Star received: 5

  14. IP says:

    I think its good idea. Even i was thinking there should be multiple counters at railway station for booking ticket by them selves

  15. Sreenivas says:

    Hi guys,

    This kind of facility is already available from long back in bangalore. There were few printing machines in bangalore Can’t stationa and also one I saw in Bellary station. You can access your IRCTC directly from there and fire a printout. Unfortunately whenever I take this printout, it is not clear and not visible. I hope this facility was desinged by kanara bank and sbi already but need to improve.

  16. mohnish says:

    Dear friend

    i forgot my IRCTC user iD and password , and i need a print out of a ticket booked form that ID . what should i do.

  17. Ramana says:

    Good thought. Better still, DON’T ASK FOR THE PRINTOUTS. Why do you need the printout anyway, since the TTEs already have the details of the passenger in his list and he will insist to show the Identification proof. Just a proof of PNR on the mobile of the passenger will be enough like the practice already followed by airlines at Airports.

    THINK BETTER … SAVE PAPER … SAVE ENVIRONMENT…

  18. arvind bhujang says:

    nice ur suggestion is very useful to every one.but here the problem is that “how to get pass code”.

    how can i get this pass code to enter in the touch screen machine(where we use to get printout of the ticket).

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