IRCTC a formidable e-commerce player in the Indian Market

IRCTC stands for Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation. It is a subsidiary of the Indian Railways and started with the idea of handling the Catering, tourism and Ticketing functions of the Indian Railway. The  start, like most other working functionary department in the country had been a jerky one. Was also a topic of jokes and laughs at that time and yet continues to be at times. People at large are quite ignorant of the many facts and services which IRCTC has been taking on and the load it bears on its shoulders.

Network load which IRCTC infrastructure has to handle

That Indian Railway is one of the largest railway network services in the world is a well known fact. The network is large not just due to the size of the geographic boundaries of the country, but also due to the large mass of people that it has to cater for. The trains themselves are overloaded on any given day is proof enough of this passenger loading. Convert this into the network demand and we have a fair idea of how large the traffic flow is in the data routes also. On any given day and especially during peak hours which extends from all the hours that the IRCTC portal operates, there are about 3000 queries being handled per second. It is not just IRCTC train seat availability that a query is being handled abut. People access IRCTC website to find out about train running information or even what are the rules governing IRCTC cancellation charges of reservations.  These are just a few queries that are common and handled by IRCTC. There are many other operations which also lead to high volume of traffic along the IRCTC network lines. In a given day, IRCTC has an average of 21 lakh hits, which increases further on days where a particular region has some special occasion to celebrate. Periods matching these dates have shown quantum jump in traffic volume along the IRCTC lines.

How is IRCTC handled

Housed in a very innocuous building in Delhi, the staff of IRCTC network management sits at the IRCTC desk working away silently to keep the service up and running. With continued dissatisfaction from its passengers, IRCTC added five servers to its hardware group. The total number of servers that handles just the ticket reservation function is eleven.  This happened two years back and that gave them an ability to handle 3 lakh simultaneous users. Their main issue of concern is IRCTC tatkal seat availability and its reservation process. This is an area that IRCTC is taking up on war footing to resolve. They have formulated a plan to name their ticketing routine as NGeT which stands for next generation e-ticketing. Issues that have been hounding passengers in the current software is expected to be resolved in this upgraded version of the system

Revenue earning reports

IRCTC has been found to be one of India’s highest money earners in the e-commerce circuit. Off the total ticketing revenue earned by Indian Railways about 55 percent of it is drawn in by the IRCTC route. Last year the revenue earning that IRCTC claimed was Rs. 1,141 crore. Comparing this with the revenue earning of ticket sales at counters across the country  that stood at Rs. 20,620 crore. While the revenue earning of the counters appear to be more, there is the issue of network proliferation not reaching most parts of India as yet. Given that scenario this earnings by IRCTC is quite a tangible sum.

Other earnings by IRCTC

It is not just IRCTC seat availability and its reservation or Indian railway running information that IRCTC is handling or generating revenue from. They have sales of packaged water , Rail Neer and also license fees that they collect from vendors whom they have offloaded the catering work flow. To ensure more usage of their portals, IRCTC have also launched some mobile friendly apps that help users in the same functions that can be carried out on their web portal. There is also the digital wallet system that IRCTC introduced. The money stored by users can be used for booking tickets. The number of users of the app has been recorded to be about 2.5 lakh. To ensure larger usage of its portals, IRCTC is planning to launch its web sites in Bengali, Telugu, Marathi , Tamil , Urdu and Guajarati. Such expansions would mean IRCTC gets to handle more traffic and more revenue earnings. All these improvements have taken place in a short while of its existence. There has been a comparison carried out in the revenue earnings submitted by IRCTC to the market managers with that submitted by Flipkart , a very vigorous marketing and sales enterprise. It was seen that the half yearly revenue earnings of IRCTC equaled that of the yearly earning of Flipkart.


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