New Delhi: As it targets 1 billion tech users, technology giant Google has offered to build an IT platform for Indian Railways (IR) that will enhance customer experience by adding features like voice search, maps, local language among others. Next, it will monetise the traffic and share revenue with the public transporter which is ready to part with its colossal data for money.
A team of California-based company last week made a presentation to senior officials in railways and promised to prop up the transporter’s brand leadership, make it easier for travelers to access rail info and bring millions of rail users to its platform.
“The proposal is to completely overhaul the IT system for rail reservation system. A new mobile app would be designed by them which would greatly enhance user experience. Google will also help in showing up IR website as the main source of railway data,” an official familiar with the development said.
Once the railways’ partnership with Google is finalised, the state-run entity would launch its drive to block all private portals that are profiting from the railway data while its custodian looks on. Dozens of websites currently offer services like seat availability in train, PNR status, train running status among others and commercially exploit the traffic to earn advertisement revenue.
As passengers provide all their personal details while booking train ticket railways collect huge amount of data every day. Internet ticketing for trains has grown rapidly over the years. Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a railways subsidiary that handles online booking of tickets, sees almost 1.5 million travellers buying their tickets through its web platform. As a result, it receives data containing personal information of the people, their preferences and ticketing pattern.
“We are exploring the possibility of monetising our data, software and some of the free services provided by IR such as PNR enquiry, currently being commercially exploited by other players but at the same time ensuring that no compromise to customer privacy is made,” the Union railway minister Suresh Prabhu had said in his Budget speech this year.
With railways eyeing various sources for raising non-tariff revenue to fund its capex and expansion, it hopes that the Google-based platform will multiply the traffic flow to its site and mobile app. The additional hits and links provided by its brand new IT platforms are set to rake in the moolah.
The search engine giant Google has proposed to bring many of its offerings for the railway users and presented a blueprint for the shift to the new system.