Normally I travel in train under un-reserved compartments. I usually go an hour early to the Railway station, buy a ticket, try to get the seat in the train, and travel. On that day, I reached the railway station little late. There was a huge queue to buy the ticket. Although there are almost 10 counters in Bangalore majestic station to issue the tickets, the counters are not enough for the crowd that travels. Usually it is normal in highly populated countries like India. This might be the same in counties such as China.
It is not possible to find a solution through operation research by optimizing the counters and the process considering the crowd. It cannot be solved just by increasing the counters.
Few people are trying to solve this problem, but in the wrong direction. I saw a ticket vending kiosk in the railway station, which accepts the credit card and issues tickets between important stations. Issues still persist with this solution:
1) It is similar to adding one more counter, which divides the crowd just by another provider.
2) This is not efficient as the person in the ticket counter, almost all first timers try twice or thrice to know the flow and get a ticket.
3) That Kiosk support only credit cards issued by restricted banks.
4) It is not so reliable, sometimes it does not work.
I was thinking while I was moving in the queue . I had enough time to think, it took 25 minutes to go near to the counter. Since everyone have the mobile phones nowadays and still the mobile phone density is increasing in India, why don't we develop applications in mobile platform and tie-up with Railways, etc. No one have to stand in queue :) . People can pay the money directly from their bank through the mobile phone and get the ticket in a minute instead of 25 minutes.
It is like providing a Kiosk to each one...
Similar solutions can be developed wherever their is a huge queue that cannot be handled just by increasing the providers/counters.