The Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has been in the eye of the storm for its inability to prevent unauthorised agents from booking bulk train tickets. In an exclusive interview, corporation Managing Director Rakesh Tandon spoke to Srinand Jha on the controversy. Excerpts:
The e-ticketing business continues to be plagued by touts. Why has the IRCTC been unable to provide for a fool-proof system?
The IRCTC website handles enormous load. As many as 2,000 e-tickets are booked every minute and four lakh transactions take place every day. Our emphasis has been on providing a user-friendly and secure site. But there are people who find ways to misusing facilities, off and on. We have started a campaign to check the IP address of each user. All sub-agents are being given a unique ID. Strengthening the security system and making the website fool-proof is a continuous and a dynamic process.
What specific steps have you taken to prevent misuse?
A campaign has been launched to prevent users from buying e-tickets in bulk by using multiple IDs. In the past one year, the IRCTC has de-activated the registrations of as many as 44,000 sub-agents, who were found to be operating multiple IDs. The Standards, Testing and Quality Certification and the Indian Computers Emergency Response System (CERT) have been commissioned for conducting a security and a functional audit of the IRCTC site. A team from the Broad Vision - which handles the IRCTC's software operations - has also started upgrading the website.
What lacunas have been detected in the website?
Nothing, so far. But the entire application software has to be upgraded to meet the growing demand.
Is this an exercise to completely revamp the website?
The e-booking business has been growing phenomenally at a rate of nearly 300 per cent each year. We started in 2002 with 10 licences from Broad Vision. Today, IRCTC operates on 175 licenses. Until 2008, the IRCTC website had been handling 45,000 transactions each day. This month, it has handled more than four lakh transactions. So, a system upgrade and revamp of the e-booking website is certainly required, which has begun.
There have been reports that the e-ticketing business will get transferred to the Railways portal once the portal becomes operational?
The e-bookings business is likely to remain with the IRCTC. The Centre for Railway Information Service (CRIS) is developing the software for the Railways portal. But this portal is likely to handle other services.