IRCTC MD on Railways scrapping fee-sharing order, normalisation of biz – ET TravelWorld

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Covid brought many changes but now, IRCTC is gradually coming back up; we soon should be returning back to what you call ‘normalisation’, says Rajni Hasija, Chairman & MD of IRCTC.

What made govt go back on convenience fee notification?
I may not be the right person to answer this. But the fact is notification has been withdrawn. We explained to our ministry the market position, work being done by IRCTC, the amount of revenue that would be required and the expenditure that would be done. So, the ministry was kind enough to consider the same and of course, the sentiment of the market was also with us. This helped us in getting back the revenue in the company again.

Is the business normalising for IRCTC? Can you share some insights with us?
Covid brought many changes. But now, IRCTC is gradually coming back up. The travel and tourism space is picking up very fast. Our sales of the Rail Neer are also growing. Currently, we are running seven trains, so the Covid impact seems to be over. We soon should be returning back to what you call ‘normalisation’.

The uncertainty related to IRCTC can weigh on investors’ faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reform agenda, including his plans to divest national assets and carry out an initial public offering of insurance giant Life Insurance Corporation of India.

IRCTC’s share price has only been going up. But over the last couple of days, it came under pressure. We have seen a stock split and now the government notification also stands withdrawn. Why do you think the market started to like IRCTC so much?
IRCTC has always had a resilient business model. We carry the strength of Indian railways all along, whether it is the tourism field, catering, Rail Neer or internet ticketing. At the same time, we work in the open market too, where we are competing with the unorganised sector. We are in the air business, we are doing cruise tourism, land tours along with hotels and bus business. The resilient business model is the strength of IRCTC. Along with this, we are open to experimentation in a new environment.

We are also operating our trains, two trains Tejas which are now seeing good light of the day because the bookings are gradually returning and we are witnessing the festival rush. Things are improving in the country overall, and IRCTC has been a beneficiary of the vaccination drive.

Our intention is to work very hard, maintain the confidence of the customer in us, as well as, the investor. Our team is working very hard to bring back the tourism industry to what it was earlier and catch hold of the revenge tourism trend that’s happening in the country. We are getting good bookings in all the fields. We are doing new experiments in the deluxe segments and have been very successful. Very soon if everything turns out to be normal, our luxury tourism will also be back. So, when our financial results would improve, the investor is going to be a gainer.

The trip will cover states of Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Tripura.

Will IRCTC be letting consumers book for cruises?
We have recently tied up with Antara Cruise and R Cruise. One cruise in Guwahati is also in the pipeline. The day cruise in Banaras is also in consideration because the cruise liner tie-up is very different from the land tie-up. Since the law of the water is different, we have to be very careful while designing our contracts. We have closed the deal with Antara; they are available in the B to B format and their B to C format will open soon. We will also have API soon for the other cruises so that the customer can book the same in the B to C segment as well.



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