Friday, April 3, 2009

Railway Bookings - Aha!

My train journeys have been on the rise recently as I have had to travel places through out India for my work. Last month it was Chennai and Karnataka and now I'll be leaving for Shirdi, this time for my own holy visit. Initially when I was in Kerala and I had to travel to Delhi every year to meet my grand parents, travelling was more of a project, but now with the ease of booking tickets through internet, it has become much more convenient and easier. The internet although has increased the efficiency, a whole new world of other factors in booking have opened up. Since I decided to make the trip only last month, there were no trains with vacant seats to Manmad and Kopargaon- the two railway stations close to Shirdi (The latter being closer).

The experience of booking the ticket on Internet also took a new dimension with many families looking to take a break in the beginning of the holiday season. The irctc website that primarily handles the ticket queries started showing the message, "The server could not process your query". I had selected Karnataka express, a train with two seats available in 'Tatkal' quota with an assumption that on the day of journey the waiting list numbers would reduce and my seats would be confirmed. After the glitch of servers, Karnataka Express showed 'W/L 1'. I had missed the two confirmed reservations that showed up on screen minutes before.

They meetThe inability of the servers to handle requests indicates only one thing. More people are on to the internet to
book their railway tickets. This could also mean that more people are using internet and that could be an indicator of increasing awareness in the consumer about services on offer and an increase in rural penetration.

Moreover the customer delight component of using irctc's service came as pleasant surprise. I got a call from a customer care saying that since I had spent over Rs 22,000 on booking tickets I would get a free membership through which I'll be eligible to seek a 10% discount on my tickets in future. So indeed a good quality and efficient service has been setup by Indian Railways.

Now the first part of the project of travel in India i.e. booking has been reduced to a mere activity for the good. The second part of travel and the schedules too has been improved as I see more trains (atleast mine) travel on time. Last month I had used the service of Indian railways thrice and my train was never late. Now since the peak season begins, it'll be interesting to see the schedule and the efficiency second part of rail travel, which I'll write about after coming from Shirdi.