E-businesses modernising railway travel across India

New Delhi : Gazing at the far-away tracks searching for signs of train arrivals might bring in nostalgic memories as a host of e-companies are providing everything from tracking minute-by-minute locomotive locations to details of taxi availability or the best deals at hotels to make rail journey in India a more pleasant and less taxing experience.

Be it the last-minute confirmation of the PNR status to a heavy-hearted goodbye, apps are making life easy for travellers on the Indian Railways network and it’s not just the private players but also e-commerce behemoth IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation) that is reworking its strategy to become more user-friendly.

At a recent high-level meeting, Railway Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda was informed that more investments, ideas and professionals will be needed to jack up the IRCTC website as the competition from e-travel portals has increased manifold.

“We are increasing the overall capacity of the IRCTC site, apart from several other initiatives. All these are a part of our new IT policy for providing better services to the passengers,” Gowda had told IANS earlier.

Thus, to provide more hassle-free services to users, the railways have launched new initiatives like e-ticketing, freight e-demand system, freight e-diversion system, Go India smart card and train enquiry mobile app in the last four months.

All this has not deterred private players from continuing to eat into the railways e-commerce platter. Enter the likes of ixigo, Railyatri and TravelKhana e-commerce websites which help rail passengers from travel-related queries to food, books and even customised travel plans on railways at their berths.

“While on board, travellers can share the real-time live train location through GPS and send it to their friends’ Whatsapp. If you have a wait-listed ticket, RailYatri predicts its confirmation probability using past history on the same train, which helps users take more informed travel decisions,” RailYatri chief executive Manish Rathi told IANS.

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