In a bid to provide better facilities and amenities to Indian Railways passengers, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) took several steps this year! From introduction of the country’s first private train to setting up new retiring rooms and lounges at railway stations, the e-ticketing, and catering arm of Indian Railways, IRCTC launched many new measures to enhance the travel experience of passengers. Additionally, streamlining of refund process and allowing linking of PNR for connecting journeys are some of the major steps taken by IRCTC that railway passengers should be aware of. With just a few days left for the New Year 2020 to began, we take a look at some of the key steps taken by IRCTC in the year 2019 in its attempt to provide better service to commuters and railway users:
Introduction of India’s first private train: India’s first private train, owned and operated by IRCTC- Lucknow-Delhi Tejas Express, was launched this year. Having a total capacity of 758 passengers, the train consists of one executive class AC chair car coach and nine AC chair car coaches. The Lucknow-Delhi Tejas Express operates six days a week except on Tuesdays. The private train is an experiment by Piyush Goyal-led Indian Railways that is eventually expected to pave way for several private operators to run trains on the national transporter’s network.
Fare refund if train is late: In a first of its kind, IRCTC is offering partial refunds to passengers if the first private train- Lucknow-Delhi Tejas Express is delayed. According to the corporation, if the train is late by over an hour, then a refund of Rs 100 is granted to the passenger and if the train is delayed by over two hours, then a refund of Rs 250 is granted to the passenger.
Retiring rooms and Executive lounges: In a bid to provide comfort and luxury to passengers, IRCTC has set up many retiring rooms and executive lounges this year. The new AC retiring rooms, providing 3-star hotel type facilities were launched at Ahmedabad Junction, Bilaspur station and many other stations. Some of the facilities offered by IRCTC retiring rooms include comfortable beds, fans, television sets, tables, chairs, AC, etc.
OTP-based refund system: To make refund processing more transparent and passenger-friendly, IRCTC launched a new refund system this year for reserved e-tickets booked by authorized IRCTC agents. The OTP-based refund system is only applicable for cancelled or fully waitlisted dropped tickets. Under this system, if the passenger decides to cancel the ticket or drop a fully waitlisted train ticket, then an OTP is sent to him/her via SMS along with the refund amount mentioned. Then to get the refund amount, the passenger will be required to share this OTP with the authorized IRCTC agent who has booked the ticket.
New IRCTC PNR linking: This facility by IRCTC allows passengers to link two PNRs for connecting journeys. There have been instances in the past where due to the non-linkage of two PNRs for a connecting journey, passengers have faced problems in claiming a refund when their second train is missed. Now, under this system, if the passenger misses the connecting train because of the late running of the first train, then the fare for the portion travelled will be retained, while the balance amount will be refunded to the passenger.
Change of boarding station: Under this facility, passengers can change as well as manage their boarding station even four hours before the train’s scheduled departure. This facility has been introduced for the convenience and ease of passengers where they can change the boarding station more than once. While changing the boarding station, no extra fare will be charged. However, in case the change has been made within 24 hours, then refund will not be granted.
First pod hotel: IRCTC is all set to provide an affordable lodging facility at Mumbai Central with its first pod hotel. At Mumbai Central railway station, two non AC waiting rooms will be turned into the first pod hotel of Indian Railways. Currently, IRCTC is working on the design and infrastructural setup of this project. The pod hotel by IRCTC will consist of several concise and ultra-modern ‘capsules’ or rooms.