Thursday, September 17, 2020

Railway Ticket Not Confirmed? Mumbai Startup Will Replace it With a Flight Ticket

Anyone who has ever travelled by train anywhere in India is familiar with stress and anticipation that comes with booking a ticket. If your ticket is listed in the waiting list or on RAC (Reservation Against Cancellation), then chances are you may not get a confirmed seat.
So, as a passenger, you will have to wait for the chart preparation, that takes place four hours before the departure of the train. If your name is not on the list, then you can either buy a general compartment ticket or stand in the train throughout the journey.

The whole saga of waiting lists is not just for people who book ‘tatkal’ tickets but also for those who book them in advance.

Whether it is someone going on a business trip or someone who has a medical emergency, millions of railway travellers are affected by this process annually.

Often, with no option left during emergencies, they end up purchasing flight tickets at inflated rates – like Rohan Dedhia from Mumbai did in 2016.

He had booked two train tickets so that he could take his grandmother to their native home in Kutch, Gujarat from Mumbai. Even one day before the day of the trip, their seats were not confirmed. Rohan ended up buying flight tickets. Since he had booked the flight tickets on the same day of his travel, the airlines charged them four times the usual price.

Upset by the episode, Rohan furiously researched about how can one predict the chances of getting a confirmed ticket while sitting at the airport.

“Despite booking a train ticket well in advance, the ticket was not confirmed. Since I paid such a heavy price for the flight tickets, I assumed the flight would be packed full. But when I entered, almost 15-20% of the seats were empty. I found this ridiculous. So, I checked the Directorate General of Civil Aviation website and found that India has almost 50,000 empty seats on flights each day. I decided to translate my thought – if only all those waitlisted passengers could get to Bhuj at train prices – into reality,” Rohan tells The Better India.

Four years later, Rohan’s tiresome experience gave birth to Railofy, a startup that aims to eliminate the problem of the railway waiting list.

The Mumbai-based startup was founded in September 2019 by Rohan, Vaibhav Saraf, and Hrishabh Sanghvi (alumni of ISB, IIT and IIM respectively) and their operations began in January 2020.

Within the first few months, they crossed a hundred protection purchases, and they have recorded over 60,000 visits on the website.

Seeing the overwhelming response and demand for a consumer-centric solution, the bootstrapped startup recently raised Rs 70 million in its seed round from Chiratae Ventures.

17/09/20 Gopi Karelia/Better India

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