Digital Shift Will Drive Expansion of Indian Rail Network

Digital Shift Will Drive Expansion of Indian Rail Network

Online and mobile bookings for India’s extensive rail network are becoming a strong driver of e-commerce in the country, reveals the WTM Global Trends Report 2014, in association with Euromonitor International, released today (Monday 3 November) at World Travel Market.

The Indian Railways Company (IRCTC) website is now capable of taking online bookings, as can online travel agents (OTAs) such as Yatra, Cleartrip and MakeMyTrip. The report says that online rail bookings in India increased by 300% between March 2013 and March 2014.

Mobile is also an increasingly important channel for rail bookings. Mobile internet subscriptions reached 72 million in 2013, more than 70% of total internet subscriptions in the country.

The IRCTC site allows bookings via SMS messaging for people who have connected their mobile phone number to their bank account.

And offline travel agents are also seeing the benefits as they can book tickets for people without internet access.

However, many foreign travellers in India prefer to book their online train tickets through OTAs as IRCTC only accepts American Express credit cards from international tourists.

The WTM Global Trends Report 2014 points out that the IRCTC’s focus on digital bookings is part of its overall plan to improve the network, including the development of six high-speed routes linking major cities in an effort to compete with the country’s rapidly expanding low-cost airlines.

The new Indian government which came to power this May, is a strong supporter of domestic and inbound tourism. The report quotes Indian Minister of Railways Sadanand Gowda: “IRCTC is expanding the scope of online booking for people to book additional services.

“The need of the hour is to bring in a total change in the work culture and delivery of railway services by investing in large-scale integrated computerisation of major functions of Indian Railways.”

World Travel Market, Senior Director, Simon Press said: “India’s railway network is one of the best ways to travel around the country and with online booking easily available, more international visitors will be experiencing it for themselves.”

Euromonitor International, Head of Travel and Tourism, Caroline Bremner added: “India looks set to overtake Brazil as the second largest BRICS economy by 2018 and its new government has identified rail as an important factor in making tourism a vital component of its overall growth”.

– ENDS –

About World Travel Market

World Travel Market, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend four-day business-to-business exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry.

More than 50,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international press, embark on ExCeL – London every November to network, negotiate and discover the latest industry opinion and trends at WTM.

03WTM, now in its 35th year, is the event where the travel industry conducts and concludes its deals.

WTM 2013 generated more than £2 billion of travel industry contracts, revealed independent research by Fusion Communications.

WTM is owned by the world’s leading events organiser Reed Exhibitions (RE), which organises a other portfolio’s of travel industry events including IBTM Events, the world’s leading showcases for the meetings and events industry and International Luxury Travel Market events.

In 2013, RE held more than 500 events in 40 countries bringing together more than six million people from around the world generating billions of dollars in business.

Reed Exhibitions

Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE) is the world’s leading provider of exhibitions in the travel and tourism industry, with a wide-ranging portfolio of 21 international events in 14 countries throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Africa.

Its market-leading, business-to-business events cover all elements of travel and tourism, including leisure travel, luxury travel, meetings, events, incentives and business travel, as well as golf, ski and spa travel.

RTE is part of Reed Exhibitions.