The IRCTC website has been the bane of the Indian traveller’s existence. Booking a ticket using the Indian Railways’ website is nothing short of a traumatic experience for users who wish to travel by train, but this problem is set to go away if the Railway Minister has his way.

During his speech at the Railway Budget presentation in the Parliament, Indian Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has promised a ‘paradigm change’ for the IRCTC website. Acknowledging the fact that booking tickets using the IRCTC website is a troublesome experience, Bansal said there is a need to improve e-ticketing services on the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Company website.

Bansal revealed that as Minister for Railways, he had heard about complaints regarding the site’s sluggish behaviour and the trouble users go through to book tickets on the site. “By this calendar year we will put in place a e-ticketing system to bring about a paradigm change,” he said, promising a better and faster IRCTC website.

Is a faster IRCTC website even possible?

Is a faster IRCTC website even possible?

In his speech, Bansal said the new system would make sure 7,200 tickets are booked per minute, compared to the current measly limit of 2,000 bookings per minute. The new system will also allow IRCTC to support one lakh users at the same time, compared to 20,000 users right now. Also promised is an increase in booking hours—IRCTC will be open to bookings from 12:30 am to 11:30 pm. These are lofty aims, but we’ve kept our fingers crossed that the Ministry will deliver on its promise.

Bansal also said that the Railways will try to ensure that the transactions on the website are safe and secure, and aims to make the new system free of fraudulent methods to improve ticket sales. The new system is not just for consumers who wish to book tickets, said Bansal; it also serves as a platform for pensions and other financial transactions for employees.

It seems the much awaited mobile e-ticketing facility is also on the cards. The end of this year might see users being able to use mobile phones to book tickets on IRCTC, the minister said. The platform will show and update ticket statuses as well.

Bansal has also said that free Wi-Fi facilities will be available in select trains and stations, making journeys comfortable for those who wish to be connected to the Internet. Also planned is an SMS service to contact house-keeping staff on the train for cleaning coaches.

This budget speech comes as a delight for railway passengers who’ve always thought that the technological know-how of the Indian Railways was not at par with the rest of the world, despite it being one of the world's biggest rail networks. IRCTC has always been notorious for testing customers’ patience with its flaky mood-swings.

According to a comScore and ASSOCHAM India report, IRCTC is the leading travel e-commerce site in the country with the highest transaction share in the travel category. One out of five online users in India visits the Indian Railways site, which has almost 12 million monthly unique visitors, and the majority of the traffic is seen between 10 am to 12 pm. It is during this time that IRCTC allows you to book Tatkal tickets, which are tickets reserved for people with last-minute travel plans, travel emergencies and so on. But that's exactly where IRCTC has always fallen short.

But until the website actually improves, you can learn how to book Tatkal tickets faster.

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