New Delhi: With railway ticket reservations booking extended from 60 days to 120 days from the date of journey, AK Manocha, Chairman and Managing Director, IRCTC hauls up his systems with imported technology and increase efficiency. In an interview, he discussed plans of improving fine dining on board. Excerpts.
What are you doing to improve the quality of service for e-ticketing operations that is slow and inundated with customer complaints?
According to the telecom industry data, at least 18 per cent of the total population now uses internet in India. Around 100 crore of the total population has Smartphones that are fast gaining pace in everyone’s life, the earlier servers were not able to cope with the data. Now, we have installed five high-capacity servers, imported from Singapore, to speed up our e-ticketing operations. The operationalisation of five new high-speed servers will substantially enhance the website’s performance. Also, the entire procedure of e-ticketing will get a facelift with improvement in efficiency of the log-in time and payment gateway. The number of concurrent users is expected to go up from the existing 1,80,000 to 3,00,000 and the existing capacity to book around 15,000 tickets per minute will go up considerably.
There were some speculations regarding IRCTC wanting to enter the hotel business. What are the plans and the investment size?
Our idea to get into the fine dining restaurant business is still at a nascent stage. We are discussing the concept with the ministry and hotel industry players.
Tell us about your catering business to corporate houses and revenues you are generating at present?
We are not getting enough revenues for this segment of our business. We are currently incuring losses. Earlier, we were supplying to seven corporates, recently we have stopped our contract with HCL since there were pricing issues. At Rs 80 per meal, we were not making any profits since requirements were also limited. Overall, the prices of vegetables and other commodities went up significantly but we were not able to increase price. However, we have received a good response for our e-catering service and we plan to expand to 1500 trains from around 400 at present. We are also working out ways to expand the service to Shatabdi trains.
What are net revenues and PAT for the fiscal year ended 2014-15?
Our revenues for 2014-15 period are Rs 1,050 crore and PAT is Rs 150 crore. This year, our revenues will be higher. We are in the process of setting up 5,000 water vending machines across 1,200 railway stations in the country. Passengers will able to buy fresh and unadulterated water for Rs 5 a litre, Rs 3 for half a litre and Rs 1 per glass. Passengers can buy water through cash, coins and smart cards. At present, we don’t need funds for expansion but many banks and financial institutions are ready to help us with funding.
Tell us about your proposed tie-up with Dominos Pizza to provide pizzas on board?
Consumers will be able to order pizzas that will be delivered to the trains on the next station. This requires a robust backend operation channel that will get access to various train routes. There are some issues regarding sharing of commission, marketing and advertising the scheme. These should be resolved soon.