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In a sustained bid to promote cashless transactions, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has decided to leverage technology for further digitisation of its operations, especially in its e-catering, e-ticketing and tourism segments.
"India is fast transitioning to a cashless economy and the Prime Minister's latest initiative to demonetise high value currencies will give an impetus to the process. We have already digitised a considerable segment of our operations in tune with the government's flagship 'Digital India' programme.
"We are determined to push forward our passenger-friendly measures in a more aggressive manner by leveraging technology," said IRCTC Chairman and Managing Director A K Manocha.
IRCTC is involved in digitising financial transactions on various fronts like booking of train and flight tickets and monthly season tickets.
He said the recently launched e-catering service 'Food on Track' has been a success with the facility providing rail passengers flexible option of choosing their meals from the list of popular food service vendors empanelled with IRCTC.
The meals can be ordered online on its website -- www.Ecatering.Irctc.Co.In.
"A major benefit of this service is that the passengers can make payment for their meal orders online and they do not have to carry loads of hard cash. They can make payment through their credit/debit cards as well as e-wallets like Mobikwik and Paytm. The online meal booking is also available through Android and iOS-based applications that can be downloaded on any smart phone," Manocha said.
IRCTC has partnered with popular food aggregators like Dominos, Haldiram, KFC and Sarvana Bhavan to expand the culinary choices for the passengers.
In order to provide regional delicacies 'Food on Track'
is also tying up with self help groups (SHGs), especially women, he said.
Recently, IRCTC in association with NABARD has joined hands with SHGs like MAHER, MAVIM, and Lupin Human Welfare Research Foundation in the Konkan region which will bring the delectable Konkani cuisine right on the seat of a train passenger.
In addition to IRCTC's e-catering initiative, a water vending machine will be installed at Sawantwadi Road station under its CSR initiative, Manocha said.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had in his budget speech stated that SHGs would provide not only employment to women but also respect and dignity. The partnership with NABARD to provide support and access to the IRCTC website would ensure extensive e-marketing for products produced by the SHGs and would also lead to increase in rural incomes, he noted.
IRCTC is also planning to collaborate with NABARD for setting up a similar project for involving SHGs in e-catering in Barabanki (Uttar Pradesh), he said, adding that the project is slated to become functional in January 2017.
He said the empanelled SHGs will be displayed on e-catering websites with their menu and prices. Passengers may choose meal or food items offered by SHGs and place the order. This will help in sustainable development of SHGs.
With the government pushing for a digital economy, IRCTC is making all out efforts for cashless transactions for a significant section of the population who uses railways as its predominant mode of transport.
"This is a significant step taken by IRCTC as it integrates the rural population with cashless transaction system through its e-catering service where the payment to these groups for the services provided will be directly credited to their accounts through online payments," Manocha said.
This pilot project of SHG is being launched over the Konkan Railway by IRCTC.
He said IRCTC modules are easily downloadable and customer-friendly which allow passengers to use its applications with ease.