BlaBlaCar

French ridesharing service BlaBlaCar has tied-up with IRCTC to offer passengers with wait-listed tickets the option of booking a seat on a shared ride. When we checked there was no mention of a BlaBlaCar tie-up on the IRCTC website, unlike the Mydala Deals section or the Shop on Amazon section. However, IRCTC has introduced a new Concierge/Cab section, that redirects to the IRCTC Tourism website and allows users to book a cab or opt for concierge services. Currently, the concierge service is available in 26 train stations across the country, while the cab booking service seems to be limited to New Delhi at present.

IRCTC Concierge service

Last month, IRCTC had tied-up with SpiceJet and GoAir to allow train travellers with wait-listed tickets to cancel the train ticket and instead book a flight on either airline. An IRCTC executive told FirstPost that it had entered into this partnership over a month ago, during which it had sold air tickets to wait-listed passengers. The executive also said that IRCTC will look to tie-up with other private airlines in the future, to offer similar deals.

Impact

This in an interesting move by IRCTC, but we only see this finding takers for relatively shorter inter-city rides: about 200-250 km journeys that can be covered in 4-5 hours. There aren’t many people who travel between cities in their cars on a regular basis in India, unlike in European countries. Then there’s the question of trust factor, which we have raised a few times earlier in regards to ridesharing services, and which seems particularly important in the light of several recent not-so-pleasant incidents involving cab drivers and passengers. However, it needs to be pointed out that unlike radio taxi services, BlaBlaCar operates more like a community, where price charged per co-traveller is limited to a partial contribution towards the cost of the journey, and prohibits the car owner from making a profit from the trip.

It’ll be great if IRCTC can tie-up with some of the other ridesharing services like Ibibo Group’s Ryde (currently operational only in Delhi and a few neighboring cities), Rocket Internet-backed Tripda (primarily operates in Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Delhi), and Ridingo (Bangalore) among others. This will help create a larger pool of travellers comfortable with sharing rides, which in turn will ensure that more number of shared rides are available at any given time.

BlaBlaCar entered India in July last year, soon after raising $100 million led by Index Ventures, with the participation of existing investors Accel Partners, ISAI and Lead Edge Capital.

IRCTC booking rules change: In March this year, IRCTC implemented a new rule to stop agents from hogging tickets, by allowing only one ticket per user in one login session between 8am and 12pm. The next month the agency went ahead and introduced further rules that could restrict even legitimate users from booking tickets they need, like only allowing a maximum of 10 tickets per individual a month, only 2 tickets per user-id in a day for advance reservation and only 2 tatkal tickets per IP address per day. More on this here.

Other IRCTC developments

– In May, IRCTC added Paytm* wallet as an option for its users to pay for train tickets online. Through this partnership, Paytm would be able to expand its reach to Tier II and Tier III markets, like Mydala, where trains form the primary mode of long distance travel and IRCTC the default train booking platform.

– In March, IRCTC had partnered with the Union Bank of India (UBI) to offer a RuPay prepaid card, which would let users book train tickets and buy goods or services from the IRCTC portal. The card was developed jointly by IRCTC, UBI and National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI).

– In February, IRCTC had introduced cash on delivery (CoD) payment option for buying train tickets in partnership with BookMyTrain.com. Last year in August, it was first reported that IRCTC was looking to offer CoD.

Also Read: #Outlook15: What Online Travel Companies Plan To Do In 2015

*Disclaimer: Paytm is an advertiser with MediaNama.