Talk of Indian Railways selling tickets to passengers directly through it’s own website has begun again. Currently tickets are available for sale at railway in stations, online via the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) website, or through travel agents registered with IRCTC. Now Indian Railways is looking to increase it’s margin on tickets sold by selling directly to consumers and avoiding commissions paid to the third party vendors.
If this plans sounds familiar, you may recall similar promises made as recently as July 2011, and July 2010, when railway officials stated self hosted e-ticketing would launch within months. According to reports this time around, the launch of Indian Railways’ own ticketing services is already in the trial stages.
Advantages for Passengers
Customers strictly looking for train tickets will find booking tickets through Indian Railways to be the same experience as at reservation counters. All reserved tickets would be available for booking directly on the site.
Disadvantages for Passengers
Indian Railways’ ticketing service will not offer travel discounts, tour packages, or hotel/rail packages as customers can find when booking through IRCTC. As one senior railway official put it, “Those who require other facilities can go through the IRCTC and others can use the railways website to book tickets if that’s all they need.”
“The project is still in the initial stages,” said the official. “There are a number of things that need to be decided, such as the tariff issues and so on. The aim of the website is to make it more convenient to the people and we are hoping this will do that.” Although there is no fixed date as to when the services will begin to be operational, according to the official, it will not happen in the next two to three months at least. Not many seem enthusiastic about the website. “I don’t see the need for it,” said another railway official. “IRCTC works fine and the railway does not really require the marginal income that comes from commissions through ticketing.”
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