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Rail tickets through Net: Panel favours more payment options

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Our Bureau

New Delhi, Aug. 30

WITH an aim to popularise rail ticket booking through the Internet, a Parliamentary Committee has asked the Railways to make available more payment options such as cash cards across a well spread out network.

At present, the payment mechanism for ticket booking through the Internet requires usage of credit or debit cards.

"IRCTC should make available cash cards of various denominations which could be distributed through the network of PCO booths, general stores, travel agents, etc so that anyone wishing to make payment can quote the cash card number and payment would be instantly made," stated a Parliamentary Standing Committee Report on Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).

While the PSU did launch a pre-paid cash card earlier this year called ITZ Cash, it is yet to catch up probably due to lack of wide distribution network, said officials.

Explaining why payment mechanism could be a limiting factor, it pointed out that credit and debit card penetration is not high.

Moreover, even those who have credit cards are generally reluctant to share their card details over the Internet for security reasons.

Internet ticket booking facility has been extended to over 150 towns, with over 6,000 tickets being booked on a daily basis. Over 10 million tickets, booked through the Internet, have been delivered till date.

Moreover, IRCTC also plans to make it possible for people to book their tickets through their landlines.

The public sector unit, which started the process of booking tickets through Internet in August 2002, expanded this facility to mobile phones in September 2004 by tying up with leading cellular operators.

On Rail Neer, the packaged drinking water sold by the Railways, the Committee has suggested that IRCTC should consider supplying water in alternative low-cost packages or pouches to reduce the overall cost of Rail Neer.

It has also suggested that pouches of different volumes be introduced in the market.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 31, 2005)
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