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To attract passengers to digital ticket booking, Railways to launch debit cards together with SBI and IRCTC

To make the passengers use online ticket booking system, Indian Railways is set to launch its own co-branded debit card in association with State Bank of India, the country’s biggest lender and Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC). To make the attraction towards digital booking stronger, it will also hold monthly-lottery draw to choose 10 lucky passengers who will get back 100% cash-back.


“It will be a railway debit card which can be used for any transaction but on buying rail tickets, it will be free of charges. There will be loyalty plans as well,” said a ministry of railways official


In the wake of demonetization that pushed IRCTC in a loss of Rs 600 crore, the Railways took the initiative of waiving charges for online booking of tickets; the time line for this move has been revised twice and now the customers will not be charged the levy till March 2018.


Earlier IRCTC used to give a part of the charge of Rs 20 for a sleeper class and Rs 40 for an air-conditioned class e-ticket to banks as transaction charges; but now since it does not charge anything for on-line booking, it has to bear the bank transaction charges as well.


Earnings from ticket booking is the mainstay for IRCTC and as per its annual report of 2015-16, 43% of its total income came from this segment followed by 26% from tourism and 23% from catering. While the railway minister Piyush Goyal has instructed officials to find ways to reduce the burden on IRCTC due to bank charges, the official quoted above said negotiations are on and a “significant announcement will be made soon”. Meanwhile, as reported by FE earlier, the ministry of finance has agreed to pay Rs 80 crore to IRCTC as a “one-time” compensation for the losses on online ticketing operations.


The railways will also be conducting monthly lottery draw starting January wherein lucky passengers will get the entire money back spent on tickets booked online. “We will be awarding people for buying tickets online and the first draw will be on January 3. Ten passengers who have bought e-tickets providing their Aadhaar number and have travelled themselves during December will be selected through a lottery and will get the money they have spent on tickets. The draw will be done every month,” said the official. The draw will be held every month and 10 passengers from the preceding month will be selected through a draw.

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