Booking train tickets could just get a lot easier in the near future with the railways looking to create a pan-country Go-India smart card that will make booking of reserved and unreserved tickets on long distance trains a simple task.

Limited option: Over 180 ATVMs are currently available in suburban stations on the Churchgate-Virar stretch, but only issue local train tickets. File pic

The smartcards can be swiped at Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVMs) and used at booking counters at select stations initially.

The pilot project will be operational shortly on the Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Howrah sector as well as for bookings on the Kolkata Metro Rail.

The Western Railway (WR) is in the process of procuring two such machines, which according to sources are slated to arrive in the next few days, and will be used on a trial basis.

“These machines will allow people to book tickets for long distance trains through smart cards, as well as by using the cash option available,” said a senior WR official.

However, anyone making booking using the cash option will be required to insert the exact fare, as the ATVMs are not designed to refund the balance or excess amount.

Currently, over 180 ATVMs are available in suburban stations on the Churchgate-Virar stretch, but these only issue local train tickets.

“It would be a major exercise to make technical changes in the current lot of ATVMs to accommodate this facility,” said another WR official.

The Go-India card proposal, as announced in the Rail Budget 2011-12, will be implemented in two phases.

The Centre for Railway Information System, the IT arm of the railways, is preparing the software for the smart card to be operational. As per the long-term proposal, one smart card could be used for various modes of transport like trains, buses, metro rail, monorail and taxis.

The number of ATVMs available on the Churchgate-Virar stretch