A week after the presentation of the Railway Budget 2009, travel portals offering train bookings are delighted with the response from visitors. The announcement of reduction in the number of days for advance booking and the extra fare charges is bringing more traffic to online travel companies.
In her Budget speech Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee had said that the period of advance booking under the Tatkal Scheme had been reduced from the current five days to two days. Among the other highlights of the Railway Budget were: auto-vending machines to be installed at large and medium stations; an arrangement with the Department of Post for issuance of tickets is also on the anvil.
Welcoming the move, Druv Shringi, CEO, Yatra.com, said, “The fact that railway tickets will be available at thousands of vending machines and post offices, in addition to online travel portals is fantastic. Though the competition now will be more, but this also means far wider distribution, which will help weed out touts and unscrupulous agents. This is a good example of consumerism winning in India. We had launched the train booking service in February 2009 and the numbers will only grow.”
Adding to this joy, the Railway Budget announced that Tatkal tickets would be made available destination-wise instead of from end to end stations, thereby reducing the financial burden on passengers. Tour operators, too, are upbeat about the new Railway proposals that aim to interlink the major tourist destinations in the country.
Often, travellers have complained about the difficulty in checking their reservation status. The new Budget allows for the provision of SMS updates to inform passengers about their train status as well as reservation status.
Travel websites like Makemytrip.com are already offering innovative personalised alerts and reminders to its consumers. Sachin Bhatia, Co-founder, Makemytrip.com, said “Not only has e-ticketing been made easy for the customers, they are more user-friendly too. We provide them personalised alerts on Tatkal reservations for a particular train, when availability becomes low, as well as the PNR status of a waitlisted ticket.