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Sunday, September 24, 2017

Booking train tickets ~ the way IRCTC revolutionised booking concept

Travelling by train is enjoyable ~ booking a ticket even in this e-age may not be – perhaps we are spoilt by aplenty of choices – for my recent travel – I had 2 unconfirmed higher class tickets, then booked a ticket by Suvidha train and later travelled in ‘tatkal’ ticket – in my return journey, the train scheduled to depart at 23.45 hrs was rescheduled to leave after 5 hours, and I was forced to cancel the ticket and travel by sleeper bus !

Those of us above 40 would know – the travails of booking tickets earlier, standing in serpentine queues – then came the Computerised booking, where in Central Station counter, one can stand  ‘any queue and book ticket for any destination from any origin’ – that was revolutionary, we thought in  1990s – then came the IRCTC and other computerized reservation, which we do now from our desktops, laptops and mobile phone apps.   Simple is life one should be telling na !!

The present Computerised Reservation Complex in front of Suburban Railway station adjacent to  Madras Central Railway station was earlier known as ‘Moore market complex,   originally built to house the hawkers in the Broadway area of Madras. Its foundation stone was laid by Sir George Moore, president of the Madras Corporation in 1898.  Indian Railways, needing land to expand the congested Chennai Central station, tried unsuccessfully to take over the market.  In May  1985, the market building was destroyed due to a fire whose cause remains a mystery. The government later built a new commercial complex named "Lily Pond Complex" to rehabilitate the traders of Moore Market. 

The interface that changed the face of Railway ticket, making life less complicated for those who were in the habit of searching for their train ticket,  pioneered internet-based rail ticket booking through its website, as well as from the mobile phones.    It is IRCTC -  Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation,  a subsidiary of the Indian Railways that handles the catering, tourism and online ticketing operations of the Indian railways.

IRCTC, which provides online train ticket booking facility, has come up with new facilities to pay for trains tickets. These facilities have been extended to Tatkal ticket bookings. Tatkal reservation facility was initially introduced in 1997 in around 110 trains to provide reservation to passengers who have to undertake a train journey at short notice. Today, IRCTC processes about 1,30,000 Tatkal transactions daily  and bulk of these Tatkal tickets are booked within minutes of the quota opening. Booking for Tatkal tickets of AC classes open at 10:00 am and for non-AC classes at 11:00 am, one day in advance of actual date of journey, excluding date of journey. No concession is allowed in Tatkal booking. IRCTC has introduced new facilities for payment of e-tickets, including Tatkal tickets: ePaylater (powered by Arthashastra Fintech Pvt Ltd) and Pay-On-Delivery (Powered by Anduril Technologies.

In the newly available ePayLater option, you get the payment link through email and SMS on making your booking. If you are availing the ePayLater option, it asks you to register first ~ and a Registered user can effect payment later ! ~ a credit facility !!.

Meantime, Divisional Railway Manager,  has declared Visakhapatnam railway station as 100 % Digital Payment Enabled (Digi Pay) station and launched the services at the station to promote cashless transaction. The launch of Digi Pay stations would encourage cashless transactions, the vision of Union government of ‘Digital India-Digital Railways’. Passengers can make transactions in the stations through Point of Sale (PoS) machines arranged at railway counters and e-wallets at all the stalls at the railway station.  Vizag  Railway Station is a major railway station in East Coast Railway (ECoR), which handles 118 trains and receives over 60,000 footfalls a day, and more than 80,000 a day during festive seasons, generating revenue of more than Rs. 30 lakh a day.

Did you read this news in media ??  ~  a  squabble between banks and Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) over fees has resulted in the latter disallowing a number of lenders from using its payment gateway for debit cards. Bankers FE spoke to explained that IRCTC had stopped them from operating on the website because they were unwilling to share a portion of the convenience fees earned on customer transactions.

Currently, the IRCTC website allows card-based payments only for cardholders of Indian Overseas Bank, Canara Bank, United Bank of India, Indian Bank, Central Bank of India, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank. Earlier this year, IRCTC had asked banks to share with it half the convenience fee that lenders recover from card transactions on the website. The Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) is understood to have been discussing the issue with IRCTC and the Indian Railways with a view to resolving the matter. Post-demonetisation, IRCTC had waived the convenience fee of Rs 20 it was charging customers. “Every day we are losing 50,000 transactions,” a senior executive with State Bank of India (SBI) said on condition of anonymity. ”

This however, turned out to be false news.  IRCTC in its website clarifies that there has been no such move. It states that revised Bank transaction charges for customers using any Debit cards at ICICI, AXIS Payment gateway , Paytm or Payu (Multiple Service Provider):- 0.25% for transactions upto Rs.1000/-, 0.5% for transactions above Rs.1000 and upto 2000/- and 1.0% for above 2000 value transactions. Debit/Credit cards of all banks are accepted on any payment gateway. No truth in news of having blocked any card of any bank.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

24th Sept. 2017.

1 comment:

  1. Really a very good clarifications reg. TKT bookings and Bank charges etc.
    Keep sending such msg at regular intervals. From: Ramamurthy.v.:camp: Fremont,C.A/USA.