Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation

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Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC)
TypeSubsidiary of Indian Railways
ISININE335Y01012
IndustryRailways
Founded27 September 1999;
21 years ago
 (1999-09-27)
Headquarters,
India
Area served
PAN India
Key people
Mahendra Pratap Mall, IRAS
(Chairman & MD)
Services
RevenueIncrease 2,353.53 crore (US$330 million) (2020)[1]
Increase 752.62 crore (US$110 million) (2020)[1]
Increase 528.57 crore (US$74 million) (2020)[1]
Total assetsIncrease 3,249.83 crore (US$460 million) (2020)[1]
Total equityIncrease 1,327.81 crore (US$190 million) (2020)[1]
Members20 million registered users[2] (2019)
ParentIndian Railways (100%)
Websitewww.irctc.com www.irctc.co.in

Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Indian Railways that provides ticketing, catering, and tourism services to the Indian Railways. It was initially wholly owned by the Government of India and operated under the administrative control of the Indian Ministry of Railways, but has been listed on the National Stock Exchange since 2019, with the Government continuing to hold majority ownership.[2][3]

Establishment and ownership[edit]

The IRCTC was established on 27 September 1999, as a public sector undertaking completely owned by the Government of India through the Indian Railways. It is the only entity that is authorised to provide certain services to the Indian Railways, including online ticketing, catering, and selling drinking water on trains and at railway stations. In May 2008, it was classed as a Miniratna public corporation, which allowed it a certain degree of financial autonomy.[3]

The IRCTC was listed on the National Stock Exchange in 2019, following which the Government of India's holding was reduced to 87%, with the remaining shares being publicly traded.[4][5] In December 2020, the Government of India divested another 20%, reducing its holding in the IRCTC to 67%.[6][7][8]

Services[edit]

Online ticketing[edit]

It is one of the Miniratna companies of Central Indian government. Prior to its inception, Indian railway passengers had little options for quality food while travelling. Passengers have to get off from trains at stations and buy sub-standard and unhygienic food available. The short halt at stations and the sudden surge in crowd at the stalls added to the travelers' panic. After the advent of IRCTC, pantry cars were introduced inside long or medium distance trains which catered to passengers by serving freshly cooked quality food, thus revolutionizing train travel in India. It pioneered internet-based rail ticket booking through its website, as well as from the mobile phones via WiFi, GPRS or SMS. It also provides SMS facility to check PNR status and Live Train Status as well. In addition to e-tickets, Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation also offers I-tickets that are basically like regular tickets except that they are booked online and delivered by post. The tickets PNR status is also made available. Commuters on the suburban rail can also book season tickets through the website. It has also launched a loyalty program called Shubh Yatra for frequent travelers. Through this program, passengers can avail discounts on all tickets booked round the year by paying an upfront annual fee.[citation needed]

Seeking to make it easier to book e-tickets, It launched a scheme called Rolling Deposit Scheme (RDS). RDS is an e-ticket booking scheme allowing passengers to reserve seats against advance money kept with the corporation.[9] It has also added flights and hotels booking facilities to their line of online reservation services. The website is managed by TCS. Also, TCS manages Indian passports.[10]

On 31 December 2020 IRCTC's upgraded e-ticketing website.[11]

Passenger data and privacy concerns[edit]

The IRCTC has been criticised for failing to maintain privacy of the data that it has collected on passengers for the purposes of bookings and travel, and there have been multiple reports of data leaks and exposures, as well as concerns that passenger information has been used by the government to send promotional content with demographic targeting.

In 2016, cyber police officials from Maharashtra reported a potential leak of personal information relating to 10 million passengers. The IRCTC denied the leak, but a committee consisting of officials from the IRCTC and Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) was constituted to examine the report.[12][13] IRCTC officials claimed that the reports were unfounded and that there was no leak of "sensitive" passenger data.[14][15][16] An IRCTC official later admitted that data that IRCTC had shared with third parties, including hotel, taxi, and food delivery services, had been exposed.[17]

In 2018, a security researcher, Avinash Jain, reported that a free travel insurance scheme offered by IRCTC, which caused users on their app to be redirected to a third party insurer, had left the information of approximately 200,000 passengers exposed for a period of two years.[18][19] IRCTC discontinued the insurance scheme and fixed the vulnerability that had left this data exposed.[20]

In October 2020, a data breach resulted in the exposure of passenger data of more than 900,000 individuals online, including names, dates of birth, mobile numbers, marital status, residence, gender and travel information. IRCTC denied the leak.[21] In the same month, IRCTC announced that it would be sharing passenger data with other public and private corporations with whom it worked.[22] Railway Minister Piyush Goyal publicly stated while discussing railway disinvestment that the government was exploring ways to monetise the sale of passenger data stored with IRCTC, saying "There is huge data with the company and that is not getting captured in the valuation. We are trying to see how we can utilise that."[23] Former Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi has criticised this, calling it a "threat to the right of privacy."[24]

In May 2020, the IRCTC made the use of the Government of India's Covid-19 tracker app, Aarogya Setu, mandatory, amidst concerns about the safety of data stored with the app.[25][26] A government official later clarified in proceedings at the Karnataka High Court that downloading the app was optional and not mandatory.[27]

In 2020, IRCTC officials used personal passenger data that had been provided to them to book tickets, in order to email a pamphlet titled "PM Modi and his government’s special relationship with Sikhs" during the 2020–2021 Indian farmers' protests, in which they advertised the benefits of government policies to protesting Sikh farmers. More than 20 million such emails were sent without consent of the passengers between 8 December 2020 to 12 December 2020. IRCTC chief public relations officer Sidharth Singh stated that the booklet "has been sent to those with the surname ‘Singh’ and those who are from the Punjab region"[28] However, IRCTC officials later denied that the pamphlet, which was shared in English, Hindi, and Punjabi, was selectively targeted at members of the Sikh community.[29] IRCTC officials admitted that passenger booking data had been previously used without prior consent, for the purpose of promotional government messages.[30][31][32]

Tatkal scheme[edit]

Under the Tatkal scheme, passengers who plan their journey at short notice can book their tickets in almost all Mail/Express trains through the Indian railways internet portal. The booking starts at 10:00 AM daily for AC coach reservation and for Non-AC timing is residual to 11.00 AM, one day prior to the departure of the train from source station.[33] Tatkal E-ticket can be booked for selected trains one day in advance excluding date of journey from the train originating station. It can be booked on the opening day from 10:00 AM for AC coach and 11:00 AM for NON-AC.[34] Passengers travelling on Tatkal tickets should carry a photo ID proof along with them to be shown to the ticket checker. Earlier this year, the website has launched Lite version which doesn't include ads, pop ups, etc. and check PNR status.[35]

Tourism[edit]

Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation also organises budget and deluxe package tours for domestic and foreign tourists. A popular tourism package for budget tourists covering important tourist destinations across India is called "Bharat Darshan". Luxury tourism packages are also available, that involve special luxury trains such as Buddhist Circuit Train and Maharajas' Express operations.[36]

.Apart from conventional tourism, it also offers adventure tourism packages that include water sports, adventure and wildlife treks, etc. A provision for customizing tours as per specific requirements is also an added attraction. Recently, a new venture of Indian Railways, named as Rail Tourism India has been launched to provide direct catering and tourism packages to users.[citation needed]

In 2020, the IRCTC began operating India's first private train, the Tejas Express, from Lucknow to New Delhi, and from Ahmedabad to Mumbai.[37]

Train operations[edit]

Mainly, IRCTC provides catering and e-ticketing services but it also runs India's first semi-high speed fully air-conditioned train Tejas Express.[38]

Milestones[edit]

As one of the biggest e-commerce portal in India, it made a lot of records.

  • On 19 March 2014, nearly 5,80,000 tickets booked in a day.[39]
  • On 1 April 2015, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) created a new national record with 13,45,496 tickets booked in a day.[40]
  • On 2 April 2015, nearly 11,00,000 tickets booked in a day.[41]
  • In April 2015, nearly 13,40,000 tickets booked in a day.[42]
  • The inauguration of Tejas Express was on 24 May 2017 from Mumbai CST to Karmali, Goa[43]
  • Extension of Scheme of Alternate Train Accommodation System aka VIKALP for the benefit of Waitlisted Passengers with effect from 1 April 2017 in all Mail/Express trains.[44][45]
  • From 3 November. 2017, Service started to provide information to passengers through (SMS) regarding status of delayed trains. Initially, all Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Tejas & Gatiman Trains covered. From 15 December 2017, all Jan shatabdis, Duranto and Garib Rath trains have also been included. Now this service is available in around 250 trains.[46][47][48]
  • On 4 October 2019, started operating India's first semi-private train "Tejas" between Lucknow and Delhi.[49]
  • On 17 January 2020, started operating second semi-private train ''Tejas'' between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.[50]
  • On 16 February 2020, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated first semi-private Train ''Kashi Mahakaal'' (3rd semi-private by IRCTC) between Varanasi and Indore connecting 4 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva.[51]
  • In August 2019, IRCTC launched a payment wallet names iMudra, to provide an easy way to book railway tickets, pay, send or withdraw money.[52][53]
  • On 1 January 2021 IRCTC launched its new upgraded  e-Ticketing Website & Mobile App for booking of online Railway Ticket.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Balance Sheet 31.03.2020". irctc.com (4 January 2019).
  2. ^ a b "IRCTC Booking Time Window Extended by 15 Minutes". NDTV Gadgets360.com. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation Ltd". Business Standard India. Retrieved 18 December 2020.
  4. ^ "IRCTC IPO off to a strong start, subscribed 81% amid strong demand from retail on Day 1". Moneycontrol. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
  5. ^ Narayanan, KS Badri. "With an oversubscription of 112 times, IRCTC's stock offer is a showstopper". @businessline. Retrieved 18 December 2020.
  6. ^ "IRCTC Offer For Sale Successful, Government Prunes Stake By 20%". NDTV.com. Retrieved 18 December 2020.
  7. ^ Kaur, Avneet (16 December 2020). "11% down in a week, IRCTC share to come down after OFS share allotment: Analysts". mint. Retrieved 18 December 2020.
  8. ^ "Centre launches IRCTC share offer to raise Rs 4,374 crore". The Indian Express. 11 December 2020. Retrieved 18 December 2020.
  9. ^ IRCTC to launch 'Rolling Deposit Scheme' for e-ticket – Economic Times. economictimes.indiatimes.com (28 August 2012). Retrieved on 23 September 2013.
  10. ^ "Indian Railways to introduce Rolling Deposit Scheme for E-Ticketing". Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  11. ^ Udayavani. "IRCTC's upgraded e-ticketing website launched". Udayavani (in Kannada). Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  12. ^ "IRCTC denies data theft reports, sets up probe panel". The Indian Express. 6 May 2016. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  13. ^ Mehta, Manthank (5 May 2016). "IRCTC website hacked, information of lakhs feared stolen". The Times of India. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  14. ^ "IRCTC Data Not Leaked, Everything Safe: Officials". NDTV.com. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  15. ^ "IRCTC hacking: Railways claims no leakage of 'sensitive' data". @businessline. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  16. ^ "IRCTC denies website hack, says everything is safe and secure". The Economic Times. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  17. ^ "Leaked data is not ours, claims IRCTC". Governance Now. 6 May 2016. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  18. ^ "Did IRCTC bug leave 2 lakh passengers' information exposed to hackers for 2 years?". www.businesstoday.in. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  19. ^ "How a free travel insurance offer on the Indian Railways website left data of 200,000 passengers exposed to hackers for two years". Business Insider. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  20. ^ Christopher, Nilesh. "IRCTC | Indian Railways: IRCTC wakes up after 2 years to fix its security bug". The Economic Times. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  21. ^ "User data of more than 900,000 leaked from IRCTC last year, resurfaces on dark web". Hindustan Times Tech. 16 October 2020. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  22. ^ "IRCTC may let outside entities access your data now". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  23. ^ "Indian Railways: Would you like railways to sell your personal data to a private company?". The Economic Times. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  24. ^ "Threat to privacy: Is your data with IRCTC safe? Former railway minister Dinesh Trivedi has this to say". The Financial Express. 8 August 2018. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  25. ^ "Amid data privacy issues Indian Railways makes Aarogya Setu mandatory for passengers". The Statesman. 12 May 2020. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  26. ^ "Indian Railways makes Aarogya Setu app mandatory for train travel". cnbctv18.com. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  27. ^ Plumber, Mustafa (12 June 2020). "Aargoya Setu Installation Not Mandatory For Travel By Air, Rail : Centre Tells Karnataka HC". Livelaw.
  28. ^ Ayyappan, V. (13 December 2020). "Amid protest, Centre reaches out to Sikhs by email through IRCTC". The Times of India. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  29. ^ "IRCTC sends out nearly 2 crore emails in 5 days highlighting Modi's relationship with Sikh community". The Indian Express. 13 December 2020. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  30. ^ "IRCTC sends nearly 2 crore emails in 5 days flagging Narendra Modi's relationship with Sikhs". The Hindu. PTI. 13 December 2020. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 14 December 2020.CS1 maint: others (link)
  31. ^ "IRCTC sends out nearly 2 crore emails on PM Modi's relationship with Sikhs". mint. 14 December 2020. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  32. ^ "IRCTC uses user info to send 2 crore emails on PM Modi's relations with Sikh community". India Today. 13 December 2020. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  33. ^ Welcome to Indian Railway Passenger reservation Enquiry. Indianrail.gov.in (30 June 2006). Retrieved on 23 September 2013.
  34. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". www.services.irctc.co.in.
  35. ^ "IRCTC Lite Version For Tatkal Launched". PNRStatus(The ticket for an Indian Railways train consists of a 10-digit number)IRCTC.in. 28 May 2016. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  36. ^ Gupta, Jayanta (19 March 2010). "Rs 1 lakh a night on Maharajas' Express". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 11 August 2011. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  37. ^ "IRCTC's 'private' Tejas Express to resume services from October 17". The Indian Express. 7 October 2020. Retrieved 18 December 2020.
  38. ^ Writer, Staff (23 September 2019). "Railways' first private train sees strong bookings. Delhi-Lucknow Tejas features". Mint. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  39. ^ "IRCTC record: 5.8 lakh etickets sold in a day". The Times of India. 21 March 2014.
  40. ^ "Record Number of Train Tickets Booked As New Reservation Rule Kicks In". NDTV. 2 April 2015.
  41. ^ "4-month advance railway booking: Record 11 lakh tickets sold online". The Times of India. 2 April 2015.
  42. ^ Malviya, Sagar (27 November 2015). "IRCTC rakes in Rs 20,000 crore from online ticketing, revenue double of Flipkart's". Indiatimes.
  43. ^ "India's first ever high-speed Tejas Express to be inaugurated today". The New Indian Express. 22 May 2017.
  44. ^ "VIKALP Terms and Conditions". contents.irctc.co.in.
  45. ^ "Railways' new Vikalp scheme to help waiting-list passengers to travel in premium trains like Shatabdi, Rajdhani". Business Today. 22 March 2017.
  46. ^ "Welcome to Indian Railway Passenger reservation Enquiry". www.indianrail.gov.in.
  47. ^ "Sms Service Code". www.indianrail.gov.in.
  48. ^ "Now get SMS delay alerts at halt stations; service extended to 1,104 more trains". The Economic Times. 3 June 2018.
  49. ^ "India's First Private Train". Economic Times.
  50. ^ "Mumbai-Ahmedabad Tejas Express to roll out on Jan 17". Mumbai Mirror. 28 December 2019. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  51. ^ "पीएम मोदी काशी महाकाल एक्सप्रेस को दिखाएंगे हरी झंडी, हुआ सफल ट्रायल, इस स्पीड से दौड़ी ट्रेन". Amar Ujala. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  52. ^ "IRCTC iMudra payment wallet: Here's everything you need to know". www.timesnownews.com. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  53. ^ "IRCTC launches iMudra wallet to provide you hassle-free payment experience". Zee Business. 7 August 2019. Retrieved 12 March 2020.