It is written several times by several people on pathetic performance of Indian Railways online ticket booking site www.irctc.co.in. Still nothing stops me in writing this blog post as I believe there is lot more can be done by Government to make the basic facility of online ticket booking experience better.
The fundamental issue to the problem is capacity (number of seats available in the trains) not able to meet the demand (millions of reservations). Unless the fundamental issue is solved by effective planning and execution by Indian Railways over long time, the frustration with online reservation portal www.irctc.co.in can never be resolved. But knowing the fact that in long term, we are all dead, what is it government can do in short term to alleviate the citizen’s concerns?
I have penned down few of those things here….
Facilitate offline booking in peak load without forcing people to stand in virtual queue
The site so far to my knowledge is not PCI complaint and this stops the website from storing customer credit card information. Making the site PCI complaint can facilitate customers to store their credit cards to do offline booking without users waiting for response in the virtual queue from payment gateway / booking engine in the web browser. The continues retries only make the situation worse.
All www.irctc.co.in has to do is to facilitate storing the customer ticket booking request (from date, to date, train selection, passenger details etc), do the booking offline with stored Credit Card info and send a confirmation mail after booking. This will improve the Customer Experience of people who are today subjected to hassle during peak loads (Tatkal, Festival Seasons, Vacations etc)
For TATKAL booking too people should be able to schedule an offline booking request and IRCTC can execute this in an efficient manner as per the sequence of registration of these requests in the back-end than spoiling the performance of the whole site and bringing down the UX.
Go for Elastic Cloud using Industry leading Platform As A Service (PaaS) vendors like Amazon
IRCTC should go for elastic cloud similar to one offered by AWS than trying to manage the whole IT infrastructure by itself. Here we are taking about Indian Railways train tickets where the demand is subjected to serious fluctuations due to multiple factors. There is no meaning in investing in hardware for peak load capacity (couple of hours) and pay for it 24 X 7. It makes sense to go with elastic cloud backed-up by vendor like Amazon who can scale to IRCTC’s needs on-demand basis and facilitate Pay-Per use model rather than a CAPEX / OPEX intensive model of maintain all hardware / software infrastructure by themselves.
Hook the web reservation system directly to PRS
Scrap the one more additional layer of database at IRCTC and hook the web-channel directly to PRS (Passenger Reservation System – The backbone of Railways ticket booking). By hooking directly to PRS the unnecessary overheads / bottlenecks on IRCTC can be avoided as the PRS is proven to scale for millions of transactions. I know this means a lot in terms of modifying the existing PRS but that is what Government have to do if you intend to create a true Citizen Experience.
Government to scrap the monopoly of http://www.irctc.co.in
Scrap the monopoly of IRCTC and facilitate vendors like makemytrip / flipkart / Cleartrip etc to invest and hook directly to PRS than going via the intermediary IRCTC. I believe the monopoly is one of the root causes if all these issues and this will put an end to it.
IRCTC, Please focus only on train ticket booking
IRCTC has to keep the focus on one and only in train ticket booking as there is lot more to do. Just be in the business of web booking for train tickets and not to waste their investments and engineering resources in trying to become an ecommerce vendor / web marketing channel. There are 100s of people there does that. Invest your precious resources in train ticket booking only…….
For all those the above makes sense spread the news