FARE PLAY

IRCTC | ES­TAB­LISHED IN 1999

India Today - - STATES - —San­deep Un­nithan

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 600,000 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 2,000,000 en­quiries per hour. A mo­bile app in­tro­duced in 2015 sees 250,000 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.

NO MORE Pur­chas­ing train tick­ets was once a painful ex­pe­ri­ence

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