In a move aimed at improving passenger experience and security, NIDs have been made mandatory for intercity train travel in the country.
Soon after being announced, the decision is bearing fruit, with commuters expressing satisfaction with the availability of seats online.
The new requirement, which will go into effect on 1 March, requires passengers to provide their NIDs when booking tickets as well as during their journey.
This move was made in order to streamline the ticketing process, ensure that only genuine passengers are able to book seats on the train and stop fare dodging.
According to Bangladesh Railway officials and commuters expressing their experience on different social media platforms, the move has been a resounding success as with the requirement in place, the number of fake bookings and fraudulent activities has decreased significantly.
In addition, the availability of seats for online purchases has increased, allowing more passengers to travel comfortably without the hassle of waiting in queues for hours or paying extra for black market tickets.
Earlier, passengers more often than not faced difficulties making bookings online as tickets used to get sold out shortly after the servers were opened for purchase.
Many had to throng railway stations and wait in long queues for hours to manage a ticket even several days prior to their travel date.
Omit Hassan Omit, a student in Dhaka said in a Facebook group Bangladesh Railway Fan Group, “It’s unbelievable! Online tickets for Dhaka-Kishoreganj intercity train are still available which used to get sold out in minutes.”
Mahbub Kabir Milon, former additional secretary of the Ministry of Railways, in a Facebook post thanked Bangladesh Railway for making NIDs mandatory for travelling.
“It’s 10:10am today [25 February], and AC berth tickets for the 1 March Dhaka-Chattagram intercity train are still available online.”
Another commuter Rashid Iqbal posted on Facebook, “It’s 10:40am and online tickets for Nilshagor Express’ are still available. There was a time when these tickets used to get sold out after minutes of sales starting,”
Earlier on 15 February, The Bangladesh Railways made it compulsory for passengers to carry copies of their identification documents while travelling by train from 1 March.
The registration can be done online (via the railway website: https://eticket.railway.gov.bd or Rail Sheba app) and via mobile SMS. For foreigners, registration will require a passport number and photo.
Other facilities are the use of point-of-sales or PoS machines in ticket-checking procedures and refund option in purchasing tickets online.
“All the facilities will come into effect on 1 March. The railway is working to improve customer services under the slogan ‘Ticket Jar Bhromon Tar’ [roughly translates that travelling is possible only when commuters have their own tickets],” Railway Minister Nurul Islam Sujan said in a press conference.
He hoped that the new facilities would stop black market ticket sales and ticketless travelling.
With the introduction of the online refund option, visiting a station in person is no longer necessary to get a refund. Refunds can be collected through the Rail Sheba app or the railway ticketing portal.