IRCTC has been playing a big role in last mile connectivity. The success of IRCTC can also be seen as a vote for e-Commerce in the country
It is in the area of last mile connectivity that the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has been playing a big role. A large section of our population is using IRCTC services to reach their destinations. The success of IRCTC can also be seen as a vote for e-Commerce in the country. According to some estimates, in 2012, the e-Commerce sector has seen a growth of almost 80 percent in India, whereas the figure stands at only 25 percent in China.
e-Commerce also facilitates a more green way of conducting business. For instance, there is the IRCTC e-ticket. Nothing gets printed and yet the passengers are able to conduct their rail journey in a safe and hassle-free manner. On the day when IRCTC portal was launched, only around 27 tickets got sold. Since then the sale of tickets have zoomed to levels that are beyond anyone’s expectations. The highest ever per day booking is 4.96 lakh e-tickets on July 13, 2012.
For the sale of online tickets, IRCTC is charging only `10 to 20. The Ministry of Railways has been insisting that why we should not make the sale of tickets free. But we also understand that someone has to pay for the infrastructure that is leading to the efficient generation of online tickets. It is better that we charge this nominal sum from our end users.
In my opinion, anyone who buys a railway ticket from IRCTC is richer by at least `90. This is because he will be paying us only `10 out of the `100 that he might have to spend in coming to the railway station booking counter and standing there for few hours. Even if he comes by bus, he will have to spend at least `100. If he comes by car, he will be spending much more by way of fuel costs and also the parking fees.
Now IRCTC has started the service of ticket on SMS. My appeal to all of you who use IRCTC services is that you should not take a print out of the tickets. The SMS confirmation of the ticket booking that you receive is a valid ticket. Nothing else is required. In future, we plan to make even the SMS ticket redundant. If you know your berth number, coach number and the PNR number, you can just walk into the train and occupy your seat.
At times, we have to face some flak from users who find the speed of services being provided by the IRCTC website somewhat slow. In those times, when there is heavy influx of traffic from users all over the country, the website will slow down a bit. But we are making a lot of new technological changes to ensure that the speed remains optimised at all times. We are gradually shifting a number of activities to separate servers. Other strategies are also being implemented.
The thing is that a ticketing portal is not only a portal; it has a number of services attached to it. The call centre, service requirements, incoming mails, trouble-shooting, ensuring payment security, tying up with banks, manage-ment of 18 payment gateways, and a huge front-end – all this needs to be tackled in order to provide best possible services to our end user.