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Rlys to tap Net cafes, ATMs for ticket sales

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IRCTC, Sify tie up for online booking with offline payment mechanism

Online payment major deterrent to e-ticketing
Passengers can pay cash when buying online at an iway centre
Railways attempts to rope in postal dept, banks for ticket sales

New Delhi , Sept 21

Indian Railways is taking steps to increase points of ticket sales and facilitate online bookings through Internet cafés, ATM networks of banks, and post-offices among others.

Of the eight lakh train tickets issued on average every day, only about 25,000 tickets are issued online. The bottlenecks relate to Internet penetration and credit card user base, as online ticket buyers are required to pay through credit cards or Internet banking.

In a bid to remove payment bottlenecks, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has tied up with Sify Ltd to enable passengers to book train tickets online at Sify's network of over 3,400 Internet cafés — iway centres — using cash payment.

Ticket booking procedure: Ticket buyers can walk into an iway centre, produce a Government-issued photo-Id card, pay cash to the café manager and book an e-ticket. Passengers are required to pay Rs 15 extra for each second-class ticket and Rs 25 extra for each air-conditioned (AC) ticket. These extra payments will accrue to Sify. A maximum of six passengers can be booked per ticket, according to Railway rules.

When booking an e-ticket, passengers are required to pay Rs 25 extra for second-class tickets and Rs 40 extra for AC tickets, which accrue to IRCTC. "As the volume of online tickets grows, IRCTC would bring down the cost of online booking," IRCTC Managing Director Dr P.K. Goel said.

The project would start on a pilot basis at 10 centres initially. Mr Raju Vegesna, MD and CEO, Sify Ltd, said, "Over the next six months, we aim to extend the facility to 500 iway centres." He declined to divulge the revenue share details between Sify and its franchisees.

Ticket cancellation: For ticket cancellations also, passengers can walk into iway centres and get immediate cash refund, said Mr Vegesna. However, they again have to pay iway a transaction charge of Rs 15 or Rs 25, in addition to the Railway ticket cancellation charges.

Banks, postal department: Dr Goel said that IRCTC is in talks with the Department of Posts to use the 1.5 lakh post-office network to issue e-tickets. Similarly, IRCTC is working to facilitate ticket booking at State Bank of India (SBI) and UTI Bank ATM outlets. "We have also written to all district magistrates to work out a model that would let people in distant villages with computers and Internet access, to issue e-tickets," said Dr Goel.

e-tickets popular: E-tickets now account for about 60 per cent of online booking, while the rest are i-tickets, Dr Goel said.

Related Stories:
Fears of `misuse' delay Railways' e-ticket plans

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