Railways' i-tickets on way out as e-tickets gain popularity

Mamuni Das New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on January 15, 2012


A growing breed of tech-savvy users and the convenience factor have led to the near extinction of the Railways' i-tickets service. i-tickets, which are booked online by passengers but printed by the Railways and delivered through courier, have now been overtaken by e-tickets.

In e-tickets, passengers can take a ticket print-out at their end after booking.

In 2011, only about 0.4 per cent of total train tickets booked on the Internet were i-tickets, the rest being e-tickets. This is in sharp contrast from 2002-03, when i-tickets were launched. I-tickets ruled the online booking space as that was the only way the Railways allowed Internet booking. This service enjoyed a monopoly for two more fiscals till 2004-05.

But Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), the Indian Railways' arm, which provides online ticket booking service, started a creative destruction process in 2005 with the launch of e-tickets.

Thereafter, i-tickets started losing share rapidly to e-tickets, which were convenient and cheaper from a customer perspective. The share of i-tickets in the total online train tickets booked dropped to 8.2 per cent (2008), 2.2 per cent (2009), 0.9 per cent (2010), and finally to a measly 0.4 per cent in 2011. Only about 4.5 lakh people booked i-tickets in 2011.

Interestingly, e-tickets were launched after a year of delay in the process because there were concerns about the misuse of this service.

Significantly, since July 2011, the Railways have also allowed users to replace their e-tickets printout with the screenshot of an e-ticket on their mobile phones, tablets or laptops.

This move could well spell the death of e-tickets too. In a nation where there are more than 600 million mobile phone users, the day is not too far off when m-tickets rather than i-tickets or e-tickets could be the order of the day.

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Published on January 15, 2012
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