Product 360: Mobile Apps For IRCTC Train Booking
IRCTC is the world’s 4th biggest railway network. That number easily makes their reservation engine super complex. They have a decent performing website (though its significantly better than it was 2 years ago). Lets look at their mobile presence. We tested almost all mobile apps with which you can book a train ticket in IRCTC (Indian Railway Tourism and Catering Corporation). In January 2012, IRCTC released its mobile version (of www.irctc.co.in). The mobile website version is simple, basic and it works. But, it significantly lacks aesthetic design.
Another major issue with the mobile version website is – if you type “www.irctc.co.in” in your mobile browser, it doesn’t automatically redirect you to the mobile version. So, many customers might not even be aware that a mobile version of the website exists. Rather, you type “www.irctc.co.in/mobile” to go to the mobile version. Considering the technology advancements in mobiles, the absence of “auto-redirect” feature comes as a big surprise.
Among all apps we tested, following are six notable native apps – Paymate, Atom, NGPAY, Indian Rail Info, Indian Rail, Indian Railway Lite. Paymate and Atom can be downloaded from a link in their website. NGPAY and Indian Rail Info can be downloaded from Android market. Indian Rail Info and Indian Railway Lite can be downloaded from Apple store. Among all six apps, the app that stands out in terms of feature richness is: Indian Railway Lite.
“Indian Railway Lite” app provides ability for customers to – search for trains (by station codes/names), list of all stations, trains that pass by every station, station sequence in a route, routes (marked with stations in Google map), locate a near by railway station (based on your current location). You may see all these features in below screens. Scroll down to read about the last and major screen.
Clicking on “More” tab opens the “More Services” tab. Here, customer can check their PNR status, open the mobile version of IRCTC website where a booking can be completed. All other features of this app allows only upto train search results stage. Among all six apps, this is the best app in terms of features. A major drawback we noticed with this app is its performance, takes a little longer (compared to other train apps listed above) to load data.
Clearly, these 6 apps doesn’t bring in any creativity like few other travel mobile apps in the market. We hope IRCTC releases a native mobile app that has great aesthetics, blazing performance, ability to book Tatkal tickets at 8 am, incorporates all cutting edge technologies like NFC enabled payments, many location based services. Travel will be bliss for many.
Author: Karthick Prabu