Three years after the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) lost its Rs 400-crore on-board railway catering business, the PSU is back with an e-retailing website, air-ticketing portal, chain of cafes at educational institutions and catering service for corporates.
“With a slew of new business plans, IRCTC aims to double its revenue in another five years. We expect to be a Rs 1,500-crore company by 2017. For air-ticketing and tourism business, we have tied up with 30 ministries to be their ticketing and travel agency. We have also joined hands with around eight PSUs and five big corporates for the same. We are already booking around 1,500 sectors every day,” IRCTC chairman & managing director RK Tandon told FE.
The overall ticket booking revenue of IRCTC, including the newly-launched air-ticketing, is over Rs 200 crore.
The PSU is also soon going to launch a prepaid smart card in collaboration with a nationalised bank that would let users book tickets, hotels, cabs and shop online on the IRCTC website and also purchase offline ticket through mobile phones.
“We’ll be launching this smart card soon. It will act as an IRCTC wallet. There are 4.5 lakh transactions (ticket bookings) taking place everyday on our website. So, we have the footfalls which no other booking website has in India. The wallet will reduce the online booking time by almost half,” Tandon said.
In addition, IRCTC has already launched a rolling account for customers where they will have an account with the IRCTC and deposit money to be used in future for booking e-tickets from its website. “The response has been very good as in around 8,000 of users have already registered for the account,” he added.
The company also plans of setting up budget hotels near railway stations in state capitals and is in talks with several states for allotment of land. “We are in talks with the Madhya Pradesh government. The first deal is expected to be finalised soon,” he added.
IRCTC, which was launched as the online ticket booking and catering arm of the railways, was just left with catering service for eight trains after the onboard services went back to the ministry of railways in the wake of a new policy in 2010. Revenue from its most profitable arm — catering division — dipped to just R33 crore, and overall, IRCTC lost R400 crore of its business.