IRCTC approved master agents - the largest online booking network for Indian railways are concerned about the proposed / new order by IRCTC barring authorized agent from booking rail tickets between 8 am to 9 am.
The master agents have appealed to IRCTC to reconsider this decision as this new rules set by IRCTC will inconvenience customers and negatively impact -authorized franchisees for whom this is sustainable employment.
In a recent move IRCTC has proposed that web service agents / web agents will not be allowed to book tatkal tickets from 8 am to 9 am. It has also stated that the web service agents / web agents will also be denied from booking tickets for the first one hour when the advance 90 day reservation of any train opens up.
The order is applicable only to IRCTC authorised agent while RTSAs are not stopped by this order who also book large number of tatkal tickets despite being just 800 in number which is a clear discrimination against only authorized IRCTC agents.
Currently there are about 1 lakh web service agents who will be impacted by this new IRCTC order. They account for 35% of the online ticketing of Indian railways.
The master agents which include ITIPL, Suvidha, OSS and the rest have appealed in writing to irctc to withdraw the new order. In a joint statement they said, “This new order by IRCTC is very unfair on our franchisees/ agent networks spread across the country for whom railway ticket booking is a livelihood. Besides negatively impacting the franchisees revenue it will also cause immense inconvenience to consumers – especially rural India as these agents serve the railways interests in over 5000 towns today, in many places railways computerized Passenger reservation system does not exist. It will inconvenience the population who are not IT savvy or have banking instruments to book tickets online. For this section of the consumers this would mean travelling long distances and long queues. The consumers from rural India and tier 3 cities and towns would also be highly inconvenienced as they will have no option but to travel to the nearest booking counter which will be located very far from their village or town.”
They added, “Our franchisees / agent networks across the country are in distress and have expressed concern about the new stand taken by IRCTC. If our agents are deprived of the opportunity to commence booking when the tatkal ticketing of any train opens up they will not be able to meet their customer needs who come to them seeking Tatkal tickets. Even the move to deny them access for the first one hour after the reservation of any train opens up will also hamper their business.”
“In a liberalized economy it is very unfair that the largest IRCTC authorized online booking network is denied an equal business opportunity. We are the master agents appointed by IRCTC hence this decision has come as a shock to us. IRCTC has stated that this step is to facilitate booking for individual customers who book tickets online. If that is a concern area we are comfortable if IRCTC allocates a certain percentage of tickets (quota) for these individuals who seek online reservation. In our country there is only a small percentage of population who are equipped with the power (banking instruments and IT knowledge) to book tickets online, therefore this move is a conflict with the larger population who are dependent on online booking agents”
“This move will encourage middlemen, touts and unauthorized agents, as consumers who were earlier booking tickets from authorized IRCTC agents will be compelled to approach them due to lack of viable and convenient options.”
The master agents said “We have appealed to IRCTC and we request them to reconsider this new rule which will severely damage our business interests and will also cause inconvenience.”