In an attempt to curb fraudulent booking (specifically by agents), IRCTC has mandated a one-time registration process for all users who wish to book trains through other third-party websites. That is, even if you want to book your ticket from Cleartrip, you’d be asked to register at IRCTC (and if already registered, you’d be asked to connect the two accounts). [via Cleartrip blog]
A common database will help IRCTC gain access to ‘all’ customers ordering through the system, though keep in mind that at one point in time, Indian railways was planning to dump IRCTC and launch its own site (which they did and closed down later). So maybe IRCTC wants to own all customers and in a future,cross-sell its offering (like air travel, hotel booking etc) and wants to decrease its dependency on the railways*.
Very recently, IRCTC also announced new measures to prevent misuse of Tatkal tickets, i.e. only 2 tickets/person. Also, the measure to *control* third party logins could be a result of the organization announcing several new measures like treating SMS as a railway ticket and ensuring that the data structure is followed consistently across all the third party sites.
Is Mobile so ubiquitous in India?
India’s tele-density stands (as of December 2011) at 74.15%, so I am not really sure how fair is to assume that all Indians have a mobile phone, as a number is needed to complete the registration process. Also, a big drawback to the new rule is that you’d need an Indian mobile number to register for IRCTC – killing a major chunk of business that third party sites were probably getting from International travelers.
Intended or just a case of ‘oh-I-forgot’ use-case?
Aside, IRCTC recently got the recognition of IATA to carry corporate travel, which can potentially drive its B2B business to few multiples.
» Recommended read: IRCTC transaction data
*Data: Close to 1/3rd of Indian railways booking is done via IRCTC.