IRCTC, which is India’s largest ecommerce portal with $3 billion annual revenues as close to 10 lakh tickets are issued per day on their website. Indian Railways runs 12,000 trains daily, carrying over 23 million passengers to their destinations across 8000 railway stations.
What if these passengers are able to book Uber cab for going to the railway station to catch a train, or after reaching their destination? What if the facility to book an Uber is integrated right into the IRCTC app/website, and booking an Uber becomes as seamless as booking a train ticket?
These scenarios can become a reality soon as Uber is planning the mother of all expansions in India: A deep, integrated partnership with Indian Railways.
As per various analysts, this single move can bring in an additional revenues of Rs 150 crore to Indian Railways via cab bookings, in the form of commission and service charges. Besides, Uber is also planning to lease space at Railway stations to park their vehicles, and enable direct booking of cabs from these locations.
Kiosks can be set up at Railway stations, wherein passengers can directly book Uber cabs, and reach their destination.
Uber has proposed a host of such partnerships with IRCTC, and discussions are right now going to finalize the extent of such an association, never seen before in India.
Although Uber has declined to comment on this development, an unnamed Railway official said: “We are seriously considering this proposal and a decision could be taken soon. The revenue model with Uber is yet to be finalized..”
Interestingly, Uber has partnered with American Airlines in US, which will enable passengers to directly book Uber from kiosks across 11 airports.
Uber’s Countermove Against Ola?
This news about Uber’s possible partnership with IRCTC comes days after Ola announced a similar partnership, albeit on a smaller scale.
Mumbai Metro One Private Ltd (MMOPL), which manages the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar (VAG) metro line in Mumbai, has tied up with Ola to provide last-mile connectivity for metro passengers.
A designated ‘Ola Zones’ would be created nearby these metro stations, wherein passengers can directly book the cab, and reach their destination. The same would be visible on Ola apps as well, which can be used to book cabs when the passengers reaches a particular metro station.
However, local taxi operators and auto-unions have opposed this move by Mumbai Metro and Ola, as they consider that their business will hamper due to such partnerships.
Uber’s move to partner with Indian Rail can also induce large scale transformation across the local cabs and auto-drivers’ network which has mushroomed nearby railway stations. But the question which arises now is that, can Uber provide enough cabs to provide services for IRCTC passengers?
Besides, can Indian Rail convince Uber to provide cabs at reduced rates, in order to match auto fares?