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E-business modernising rail travel in India

Gazing at the far-away tracks searching for signs of train arrivals might bring in nostalgic memories as a host of e-companies are providing everything from tracking minute-by-minute locomotive locations to details of taxi availability or the best deals at hotels to make rail journey in India a more pleasant and less taxing experience.

Be it the last-minute confirmation of the PNR status to a heavy-hearted goodbye, apps are making life easy for travellers on the Indian Railways network and it’s not just the private players but also e-commerce behemoth IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation) that is reworking its strategy to become more user-friendly. At a recent high-level meeting, Railway Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda was informed that more investments, ideas and professionals will be needed to jack up the IRCTC website as the competition from e-travel portals has increased many fold.

Thus, to provide more hassle-free services to users, the railways have launched new initiatives like e-ticketing, freight e-demand system, freight e-diversion system, Go India smart card and train enquiry mobile app in the last four months. These sites and their mobile apps ensure that not just railway travel but even your last mile connectivity till your doorstep is planned out as many have tie-ups with taxi companies, hotel and various tourism boards.

Indian Railways, the world’s second largest network under a single management, runs 12,617 trains to carry over 23 million passengers per day connecting more than 7,172 stations across its 116,000 km network. The passenger movement per day is equivalent to moving the entire population of Australia.
In addition, the Railways operates more than 7,421 freight trains carrying about three million tonnes of cargo every day.