Railways to introduce e-payment system for freight sector

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New Delhi, Oct 29 (UNI) The Railways will offer electronic payment system in its revenue-yielding freight sector, a move that will enhance B2B operations of the government's biggest department.

The moves comes close on the heels of its recently introduced e-ticketing system in the passenger segment.

''There is need to enhance the use of Information Technology to the freight system of the Railways. E-payment is part of it,'' Mr V N Mathur, Member Traffic, Railway Board, said today.

Addressing a seminar on ''Rediscovering Railways Through Information and Communication Technology'' here, Mr Mathur said the Railways had already introduced e-payment of freight in the coal sector.

East Coast Railways, he said, had started booking coal for Badarpur powerhouse.

Mr Mathur said there was an imperative need to productively use IT for the Railways' freight operations and passenger reservation as also to maximise the utilisation of coaches, wagons and locomotives.

In this connection, he also talked about using IT for providing unreserved tickets, thereby reducing waiting hours for those in queues.

Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS) Managing Director Madhav Pathak, who was also present, said Central Railway was experimenting with contactless smart cards for its suburban section ''where the smart cards itself become the authority to travel.'' The Railways carry about 15 million passengers - about the population of Australia -- and over two million tonnes of freight everyday, and the wider application of IT will enable it to meet the stiff challenge from the road transport.

Some of the major IT projects currently undertaken by the CRIS are IT application in budgeting and accounting, asset maintenance, procurement and inventory, human resource management and data warehousing.

A ministry official said the Railways is planning to invite bids for a Rs 400 crore IT contract to integrate freight, financial and employee management. This will be the largest Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) contract to be implemented in India.

The system will manage the database of about 30 lakh present and past employees (pensioners) of Indian Railways. Uptill now, the Company Affairs Ministry's 'MCA 21' has been the largest government contract that cost the exchequer about Rs 345 crore.

Top IT companies like Wipro, IBM, TCS and Oracle are in the fray for the project, which involves making an integrated system for tracking freight management, warehouse planning, financial management and billing. The solution will also include a Human Resource Management System (HRMS).

UNI

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