Government wants to tap IRCTC’s 'data potential' before divesting it

Government wants to tap IRCTC’s 'data potential' before divesting it

NEW DELHI: The government has put on hold disinvestment of Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) as it wants to tap the massive pile of data. The ministry is working out a revamp plan before selling shares in one of the largest e-commerce sites to realise a better value.

Railway minister Piyush Goyal said the government will go ahead with the planned sale of shares in RITES and IRCON, while the proposed disinvestment in IRCTC and IRFC are on hold. In case of IRFC, the railway ministry is awaiting clarity on the treatment of minimum alternate tax (MAT) benefit, the minister said.

“There is huge data with the company and that is not getting captured in the valuation. We are trying to see how we can utilise that,” Goyal told a news conference.

In case of all railway PSUs, the plan is to initially sell 5-10 per cent each through an initial public offer. Gradually, the government will have to pare its stake to 25 per cent, in line with Sebi rules.

This is a rare instance of the government tapping the data potential of a company, something that the private sector is harnessing to push its business. “We are seeing how the data can be used to offer services before, during and after the travel,” an official told TOI.

IRCTC, which runs one of the largest e-commerce sites, has around three crore registered users and the target is to tap each of the seven lakh tickets that are issued daily.

Sources said Railways is looking into a report prepared by an independent agency that has suggested a plan to revamp the services offered by IRCTC, something that travel portals such as MakeMyTrip, Yatra and TripAdvisor are successfully harnessing. If the plan goes through, the Railways plans to do just that. “Based on a passenger’s booking history, she can get a message offering an Ola or Uber cab on reaching New Delhi railway station. We can also offer food options or a booking for National Museum or Rail Museum through the site,” explained an officer.

Services such as booking for food, travel insurance, cab services and even air tickets are already being offered by IRCTC. Already, some data crunching has begun where passengers are getting a probability of wait-listed and RAC (reservation against cancellation) ticket getting confirmed, which can help plan the journey better.