2 min read.Updated: 13 Sep 2020, 04:43 PM ISTSalman SH
IntrCity RailYatri’s online train booking platform is currently seeing around 2,500-3,000 daily bookings, which is around 50% of the demand it had before March
Bengaluru: Around 20% of train ticket inventory has opened up for online booking within months of resumption of train services in the northern and southern states, said a top executive of online train tracking and booking platform IntrCity RailYatri.
Indian Railways had suspended all passenger trains after the nationwide lockdown from March 25. However, it resumed services in a staggered manner, with Shramik Special trains, which was mostly aimed at helping stranded migrant workers reach their home states from May 1.
By September, more than 230 special trains became operational, including long-route trains on Delhi-Bengaluru, Delhi-Indore, Yesvantpur-Gorakhpur, Puri-Ahmedabad sections.
IntrCity RailYatri’s online train booking platform is currently seeing around 2,500-3,000 daily bookings, which is around 50% of the demand it had before March. The startup works directly with Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a subsidiary of Indian Railways to list train tickets directly on its platform.
“We (IntrCity RailYatri train bookings) have recovered to about 50-55% of the bookings that we used to process before March 2020. This is because only about 15-20% of the trains' inventory (for online bookings has opened up). We used to process around 5,500-6000 daily bookings (for trains) before March," Manish Rathi, chief executive, IntrCity RailYatri said in an interview.
The startup, which is funded by Blume Ventures, Omidyar Network, and Nandan Nilekani, also launched a bus booking option last year. It also provides train ticket PNR predictions, similar to other tech startups such as Confirmtkt, Railofy, and IRCTC, which launched a prediction feature on its online ticket booking platform in May 2018.
Apart from train bookings, IntrCity RailYatri also offers bus booking options, but this option is mostly dedicated to users whose train tickets are wait-listed. Mint reported on May 2019 that around 40% of the daily 600,000 train bookings made in India, via both online and offline medium, go directly into a wait-list, as per data sourced from Confirmtkt. Black-marketing of tickets, low capacity on non-premium trains and the rising influence of middlemen in train ticketing are contributing factors to wait-listed tickets.
But IntrCity RailYatri believes that there is still a large opportunity to seed wait-listed train tickets with buses in the same routes. IRCTC and Railofy, a data science startup currently seed wait-listed train tickets with flights, but buses can be an affordable option.
According to Rathi, prior to March, India had around 40-45 million people traveling daily across long-distance travel, excluding the shorter routes. Around 90-95% use trains and buses to cover this distance, while the rest of long-distance travel happens via flights, and taxis, he added.
“For long-distance travelers, there shouldn’t be any friction to move from trains to buses (and vice versa), especially in a country like India, and unless this kind of integration isn’t possible, we will have long waitlists on trains. We also have to ensure than the inter-city and inter-state buses do not run in half the capacity to fix the waitlist problems on trains," Rathi added.
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