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One Railway App Soon for Tracking Trains, Ticketing

Indian Railways to Launch Unified Super App Combining Over a Dozen Services

Source and Citation: Excerpts from news article published January 2nd, 2024 by Economic Times Bureau in Economic Times.

Analysis of this News for a Layman

Indian Railways currently provides various passenger-focused mobile apps for train ticket booking, tracking, complaints, etc. It now plans to combine offerings from over 12 of these apps into one unified “super app.”

The super app aims to improve user experience by consolidating all key transport services conveniently under one platform. Features to be integrated include ticket booking/cancellation, live train tracking, transport suggestions, complaints registration, station information and potentially even ancillary offerings like meal delivery.

The rationalization of having one consolidated gateway app instead of multiple single-purpose ones should provide better reliability, integration, and user traction once rolled out after testing. The project is expected to cost around INR 90 crores including 3 years of operations.

One Railway App Soon for Tracking Trains, Ticketing

Impact on Retail Investors

For retail investors, the scope of service improvement, wider reach, and monetization traction from the super app offer indirect revenue and efficiency upside for Indian Railways. As the national transport backbone hauling over 20 million daily passengers, optimization here has economy-wide impacts.

However, the muted estimated INR 90 crore price tag and multi-year development timeframe simply to homogenize 15 disjointed legacy apps indicates the gigantic latent technology modernization needs of this public sector behemoth. While the super app rationalizes interfaces, core engineered systems remain outdated.

So investors should view this as a very small signal affirming digital focus, not any dramatic transformation yet. Any PSU railway equipment, construction or IT service provider upside relies on sustained high-value rail infrastructure upgrades actually being commissioned.

Impact on Industries

The digital technology sector sees direct upside from rail super app development, testing, and managed services needs on a INR 90 crore project. IT majors like TCS, Infosys, HCL Tech, and startups making mobility solutions gain. Even advertising and payment platform partners could benefit.

But app-based consumer sectors like budget hotels, ticket resellers, or packaged foods counting on captive rail traveler eyeballs being diverted through a unified gateway now face potential digital disruption risks. Loss of direct customer access threatens product retailers used to channel dependence. Rising bargaining power of rail aggregators changes distribution power dynamics.

Incumbent app-makers also lose out from getting subsumed into an in-house integrated offering. And despite digitization, structural issues in hard infrastructure, rolling stock, etc., still constrain the overall transportation ecosystem limiting spill over gains.

Long Term Benefits & Negatives

Long term, the super app lays digital transformation foundations for Indian Railways to build upon by consolidating legacy interfaces and orientation into one platform. Additional efficiency, personalization, scale, and monetization modules can potentially get overlaid on this initial mobility aggregation base over time.

It also signals acknowledging digitization needs – passenger-facing apps are relatively simple wins compared to complex hauled freight or grid modernization. App success creates internal confidence for further change. Integrated data under one roof enables advanced analytics too.

But the risk is of becoming too inward-looking – custom-built apps shield internal data flows but constrain ecosystem partnerships. And siloed digital moves without deeper engineering and organizational reform limit transformational capacity. User traction itself has uncertainty – private mobility apps have far wider flexibility.

Short Term Benefits & Negatives

An immediate benefit within the next 1-2 years is eliminating fragmentation across disparately downloaded apps for a small but growing base of digital-first rail travelers. Bringing unified information resources for planning, booking, tracking, and more under one umbrella improves experience.

But in the short term, significant software development complexity for integrating intricate legacy systems looms along with added change management needs across departments used to siloed apps. Lagging execution timescale or glitches cannot be ruled out.

While rationalization helps, it could initially confuse some habitual users familiar with standalone apps for specific purposes. Retaining consumers even as features consolidate poses user design challenges as well.

And core ticket booking revenues may not see an immediate boost since the railway’s prized e-ticketing arm IRCTC already dominates bookings through its singular app already. So near term upside seems modest.

Impact of Indian Railways Super App on Companies:

Indian Companies:

Gaining:

  • CRIS (Centre for Railway Information Systems): The Railways’ IT arm responsible for developing and managing the Super App, CRIS stands to benefit from increased project scope, budget allocation, and potentially recurring revenue from app maintenance and updates.
  • IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation): With its existing Rail Connect platform being integrated into the Super App, IRCTC could see increased user engagement and potential growth in online ticket bookings, leading to higher revenues and transaction fees.
  • Other App Developers: Companies like MapmyIndia, RailYatri, and Cleartrip, currently offering alternative train tracking and booking apps, might experience increased downloads and user engagement if they develop complementary services or integrate with the official Super App.
  • Digital Payment Companies: Increased online transactions through the Super App could benefit Paytm, PhonePe, Google Pay, and other digital payment platforms with strong integration within the app.
  • Retail & Food Aggregators: The potential for integrating retail and food delivery services (like IRCTC eCatering) within the Super App could benefit companies like Zomato, Swiggy, and local online stores in stations and nearby areas.

Losing:

  • Independent Train Information Websites & Apps: Websites and apps solely focused on train tracking or booking might lose some traffic and users to the comprehensive Super App.
  • Small Travel Agents & Booking Offices: Increased online bookings and potential integration of IRCTC services could reduce reliance on traditional travel agents for booking reserved tickets, impacting their business.

Global Companies:

Gaining:

  • Global Cloud Service Providers: Companies like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform could benefit from providing cloud infrastructure and data storage solutions for the Super App.
  • Technology & Analytics Companies: Global companies with expertise in mobile app development, user interface design, and data analytics could be potential partners for the Super App’s development and future enhancements.

Losing:

  • Global Travel Service Providers: International travel booking platforms and airlines might face increased competition from IRCTC Air integration within the Super App for domestic flight bookings.

Market Sentiment:

  • Positive for companies directly involved in developing and operating the Super App, digital payments, and potentially integrated services.
  • Neutral to slightly negative for independent train information providers and traditional travel agents facing potential competition.
  • Positive for global technology companies with relevant expertise who can partner with the Railways.
  • Mixed for global travel providers depending on the potential impact of IRCTC Air integration on their market share for domestic flights.

Remember: This analysis is based on limited information and specific company strategies and financial performance will ultimately determine their individual benefits or challenges. Monitor developments and track execution details for a more nuanced understanding of the potential impact.

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