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Indian Railways Boosts Digital Payments, Online Services

To promote the Digital India initiative in the Indian Railways, a statutory board of the Ministry of Railways, the government is encouraging passengers to purchase food through digital methods via catering units at railway stations. 8,878 static units have digital payment facilities, a press release has stated.

Additionally, the government has provided handheld point of sale (PoS) machines at catering units to generate printed bills and invoices reflecting all details of transactions undertaken and to address complaints of overcharging. At present, 30,81 PoS machines are available on 596 trains. 4,316 static units have been provided with PoS machines.

To widen the range of options available to passengers on trains, E-Catering Services have been introduced to the Indian Railways. E-catering services are managed by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a public sector undertaking. Passengers can pre-order meals when they book their e-ticket or while travelling on the train using the mobile application, contacting the call centre, or accessing the website. E-Catering service is currently available at 310 Railway stations through 1,755 service providers and 14 food aggregators, supplying an average number of 41,844 meals per day.

In July, the Indian Railways announced it would deploy video surveillance systems (VSS) at 756 prominent railway stations across the country by 2023. RailTel was appointed by the Ministry to complete installing the VSS, which comes equipped with high-resolution CCTV cameras with a footage storage capacity of more than a month.

As OpenGov Asia reported, CCTV cameras of stations and video feeds will be monitored at three levels for enhanced safety and security at these railways. The system consists of artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled video analytics and facial recognition software, which could aid in detecting known criminals. It can trigger an alert when they enter the premises.

A Network Management System (NMS) will be used to monitor cameras, servers, UPS, and switches. All the data can be viewed from any web browser by authorised personnel. Four types of IP cameras- dome, bullet, pan tilt zoom, and ultra-HD (4K) will be deployed.

Authorities said they would fast-track appointing executing agencies. All the CCTV cameras will be networked on optical-fibre cable and the video feed of the CCTV cameras will be displayed at local RPF posts and centralised CCTV control rooms at divisional and zonal levels as well. The cameras will capture activity in waiting halls, reservation counters, parking areas, main entrances and exits, platforms, foot-over bridges, and booking offices, according to the Railway Ministry. Ashwini Vaishnav, the Railway Minister, was quoted as saying, “We need to rapidly absorb new technology in Railways, be it for rolling stock, construction, safety, cybersecurity, or in situations where there is a human interface”.

Launched in 2015, the Digital India initiative is the government’s flagship programme, which aims to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. It consists of nine pillars: broadband highways, universal access to mobile connectivity, public Internet access programme, e-governance: reforming government through technology, e-Kranti (the electronic delivery of services), information for all, electronics manufacturing, IT for jobs, and early harvest programmes.

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