After the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) announced that the e-ticketing facility for the Indian Railways offered on its site would soon be available for longer hours,most international students in the city are of the view that it will make rail travel hassle-free for them. IRCTC is pitching for a 23-hour window for online booking with an eye to wooing more foreign travellers. Domestic travellers also stand to benefit from it as currently the facility is available only from 8 am to 11:30 pm.
Saaha Dotie,a student from Libya said,Last month when I was coming back to India after a vacation,my sister was also coming with me. We were a planning a tour of Delhi,Agra and a couple of other cities. But due to the time difference of nearly 10 hours between India and Libya,booking rail tickets was really difficult from home. I think 23 hours e-tickets on IRCTC will be of great use for people like us.
Soham Patel,a businessman based in Johanessburg,said,I travel extensively across India to meet clients. Air travel is not always a feasible option due to the expenses. Also the fact that we don’t have connecting flights in the smaller cities makes it difficult. I end up being heavily dependent on travel agents due to the website being non-operational during certain periods of the day.”
KM Cariappa,additional general manager,IRCTC said,We have still not finalised the exact date from which the time extension will be implemented. Most probably it will begin sometime in the later half of July. Basically it has been done keeping in mind the problems faced by international tourists due to the different time zones. Most of the NRIs and foreign nationals are unable to book tickets as the site is non-operational at night,when it is still day time for them.
E-ticketing has been hugely successful right from August 2002 when it was introduced,with an average of two lakh thirty thousand online tickets being booked per day. In fact,in April this year,it touched an all-time high of three lakh tickets per day.
He further added that the proposal of extending the time came after the website saw a very good response to domestic air ticket bookings,started about a month ago,with an average of 1,500 air tickets being booked online.
Some of the special luxury trains like Maharajas’ Express,running between Mumbai,Delhi and Howrah and the Buddhist Circuit Special Train are the most sought-after ones by foreign,especially Asian,tourists. So this move is sure to benefit most of them.
On the IRCTC site a passenger can book domestic air tickets,rail tickets,cars and hotels as part of an entire tourism package. Thus one can plan an entire itinerary for a trip at one site, said Cariappa.