Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has introduced (pdf) a new version of its e-ticketing journey planning service which aims to improve the user experience and the performance of the existing ticketing system.
IRCTC says the new service is being rolled out in a phased manner and it hasn’t rolled to us at the time of writing this article. However, a screenshot provided by IRCTC suggests an improved search results page, which will provide a snapshot of available trains with additional information like travel time, departure and arrival stations with timings and train running days among others. One can click on any class to get availability and fare information.
Functionality wise, this seems to be a significant upgrade from the current system, since it appears to offer more information in the search result page and provide more filters like journey class, train types and departure stations to narrow down the train listings, however it seems to retain the same old design which is quite disappointing.
Pilot For Next-Gen E-Ticketing System? Interestingly, a Centre for Railway Information Service (CRIS) document (pdf) positions this as a pilot for the next generation e-ticketing system, saying that this journey planner will allow them to test the system’s technology and application before its full scale rollout in January 2014. The railway minister had announced this system in the Railway budget 2013 earlier this year and had claimed that the new system will be able to support 7,200 tickets per minute as against the existing number of 2,000 tickets per minute.
CRIS says it will be initially integrating a limited number of servers of IRCTC e-ticketing site with the next generation e-ticketing system to deliver this service, in a bid to free up resources on the IRCTC site which will apparently improve the site performance and thereby the user experience. It also added that this system will be sharing the journey planning load of IRCTC, thereby freeing up the server resources integrated with the upcoming e-ticketing system. However, it is yet to be seen if there will be any actual improvement on the site’s performance due to this new system.
Earlier this month, IRCTC had strangely launched its first native app on Windows Phone and Windows 8 platform, rather than rolling it out on more popular platforms like iOS and Android. It had also partnered Airtel Money to introduce a SMS based and USSD based ticketing service and partnered with Spice Digital* to launch a B2B travel and tourism solution called Spice Safar for travel agents.
IRCTC had also claimed to have clocked 1.35 crore ticket bookings in August 2013 with an average of 4.34 lakh daily bookings, up 10% from 1.23 crore ticket bookings with an average 3.99 lakh daily bookings in August 2012, as indicated by a PTI report (via The Hindu Business Line).
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– IRCTC Reports 31,457 Mobile Bookings In October 2012; 3.74 Lakh Online Bookings