Yesterday, the Indian Railways announced the integration of all of its app based services into a single app called Rail Saarthi. At present the Indian Railways has 8 apps for different functions:

  1. IRCTC Rail Connect for train ticketing, which is used for booking around 100,000 tickets daily, generating a revenue of Rs 9.65 crores.
  2. IRCTC Air for air ticketing
  3. IRCTC Tourism for booking packages
  4. IRCTC Food-On-Track for meal booking
  5. UTS for unreserved ticketing, which is used for around 14,400 tickets daily, and revenue of Rs 6.8 lakhs.
  6. COMS for complaint management
  7. Coach Mitra for “clean my coach”.
  8. NTES for Passenger enquiry system, with “nearly” real-time data on the status of trains.

Now you would imagine that creating a consolidated application would be about integrating all of these services into a single app. It makes no sense to have a different application for each service, especially since people with low cost phones tend to limit the number of applications they download.

Here’s the thing: we checked, and Rail Saarthi is NOT an application with all of these services in a single app. It’s just a menu that redirects users to each of these eight applications, and then adds a few things like integrating the Railways’ social media handles, so that you can tweet complaints to them. On trying to register for the application, we were redirected to the Google Play store to download either of two apps: UTS for Rail Saarthi and IRCTC Rail Connect for Rail Saarthi. These are two completely new apps, different from UTS and Rail Connect. Incidentally, registration for the Rail Connect for Rail Saarthi app did not work: the app crashed.

So we’re left with a situation where, instead of having one app for 8 services, we now have 8 apps, one Rail Saarthi app, and then individual apps for different services that are linked to Rail Saarthi.

The point of doing this: I don’t know. The cost of all of this? Rs 7 crores.

Some user comments (on the Google Play Store):

  • “We expect one app with multiple information instead of multiple app installation. This app is giving just an option to instal multiple app. Pls try to integrate all information in one app with just one login. Your technical team should first understand the meaning of an app. Who will waste mobile memory by installing lots of railway apps. Railway should give app development to any good company for the betterment of the travelers amd make the app meaningful.” (link)
  • Worthless application!! They advertised it as ONE application to take care of all Railway needs… But instead, they just created an app which gives you a link to insta other apps. Waste of time and money by the government. (link)

More comments on the Play store, but you get the drift.