With Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation and travel portals pushing sale of online rail tickets, the share of IRCTC in the reserved ticketing revenues of Indian Railways has gone up to 40 per cent in the first two quarters of this year, from around 25 per cent last year.
In fact, with the increasing penetration and use of the Internet, IRCTC's ticketing revenue has seen an increase of 462 per cent over the past three years. From Rs 704.9 crore (Rs 7.04 billion) in 2006-07 and Rs 1,744.7 crore (Rs 17.44 billion) in 2007-08, the corporation got Rs 3,966.98 crore (Rs 39.66 billion) from sale of online tickets last year.
And, experts feel with the Unique Identification project of the government, the market for online ticketing will only increase tremendously.
Says Akhileshwar Sahay, president of the infrastructure advisory division of project management firm, Feedback Ventures: "The potential market for online ticketing is huge. The speed with which the service can be availed without locational constraints makes it convenient for consumers. Once the Unique Identification project becomes functional, the facilities will truly be universalised."
IRCTC had earned Rs 2,717 crore (Rs 27.17 billion) from sale of online tickets this financial year in the two quarters till September this year. This is an increase of nearly Rs 1,000 crore (Rs 10 billion) over the revenue the corporation had earned during the same period last year.
The impressive sales figures have led many officials to believe IRCTC will cross the Rs 5,000-crore (Rs 50-billion) mark in online ticketing sales this year. Said Rakesh Tandon, managing director: "E-ticketing has always been perceived as being designed for the convenience of premium consumers. We are making efforts to make e-ticketing facilities available and accessible to all sections of society."
The corporation has, to this end, collaborated with 81 organisations and 11 state governments to operate multi-utility kiosks, which provide online ticketing services. IRCTC has further tied-up with Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum Corporation and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation to provide e-ticket reservation facilities to people through their chain of petrol pumps and retail gas agencies.
Ticketing sales data from the corporation recorded between April and September 2009 reveal that online ticket reservation services have had a good response from people of lower income groups.