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IRCTC plans to start air ticket booking

Divested of catering services, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is now focusing more on online ticket booking system across the country.

Encouraged by sudden increase in the online ticket booking, the IRCTC has chalked out various steps to provide better services to its customers duly registered with its site

According to a senior IRCTC official, the IRCTC has been making all possible efforts to expand its network in the private sector. "Efforts are on to link our services to airline ticket booking operation, too," he said.

The IRCTC official said that the railways online ticket reservation through the IRCTC site has increased to about 3,60,000 to 3,70,000 bookings per day now while it was hardly about 40,000 bookings per day in 2008. However, the IRCTC is likely to target about 7,50,000 bookings a day by 2015, he said.

Confirming the sudden rush on the IRCTC site for ticket booking either online or through SMS system, IRCTC MD Rakesh Tandon said that the IRCTC has meticulously planned to cope with the rush of customers on its site. "The IRCTC has managed to maintain its lead position in the domestic travel ticket bookings. But it is keen to make its portal a 'one stop shop' for planning tours and other services required by passengers while undertaking journey," he said.

According to sources, the IRCTC which is a wing of the Indian Railways, has already become an agent of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The IRCTC has tied up with Air India and Jet Airways to provide services to an elite class of passengers, sources said.

According to an IRCTC official, the IRCTC ticket business accounts for about 40 percent of the total revenue of the corporation which is about Rs 550 crore annually. However, one of the major initiatives in reaching the goal would be to make fast bucks through SMS ticket booking service like online ticket booking system. The IRCTC is also planning to reduce the payment transaction time which is about 1.5 to 2.5 minutes per ticket booking online. The failure rate at the transaction stage is said to be about 20 to 25 percent only. But in the case of certain banks, the failure rate goes up to even 40 percent due to lack of 'state-of-the-art' arrangement between the IRCTC and a few banks, he said.