Aug 12, 2017

Indian Railway Catering and Ticket Corporation: Fare play

The Indian Railway Catering and Ticket Corporation, established in 1999, has become one of the largest e-commerce players in India and there is gearing up for a long way ahead.

No more purchasing train tickets was once a painful experience. Photo: Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP
HOW IT USED TO BE

Only a few years ago, booking a train ticket ranked high among the very worst of Indian agonies, possibly right next to getting a root canal without anaesthesia. It usually involved endless queues in ticketing hothouses run by whimsical staff with no guarantee of anything but the slow wastage of time. Then, with the arrival of the Internet, the Indian Railway Catering and Ticket Corporation (IRCTC) launched online passenger reservation systems in August 2002.

SMALL BEGINNINGS

Like most big things, this had small beginnings -- IRCTC's online window sold 27 tickets on the first day and 3,343 tickets in the first month. Today, it sells over 6,00,000 tickets per day, over 55 per cent of railway ticket sales. Last year, it recorded sales of Rs 22,023 crore making it one of India's largest e-commerce players and one of Asia's largest such portals. This is one reason that railways minister Suresh Prabhu recently said the IRCTC website has the potential to become an e-commerce site as big as Amazon.

BIG PLANS

IRCTC's server has been upgraded, allowing it to handle 15,000 concurrent users, up from 2,000. Another is the launch of a Hindi e-ticketing portal and a mobile app. At peak times, the IRCTC website handles over 20,00,000 enquiries per hour. A mobile app introduced in 2015 sees 2,50,000 logins a day. There are complaints about slow speeds and server crashes, but these glitches are a far cry from the utterly joyless experience of physically buying a train ticket.
Source - India Today