The Indian Railway Catering And Tourism Corporation Limited, popularly known as IRCTC, was incorporated in the year 1999 under the Ministry of Railways to upgrade and professionalise catering services over Indian Railways and also to promote Railways as a kaleidoscope of tourism across the country. Its tagline is "Lifeline of the nation".
The IRCTC, which celebrated its 20th year of inception in 2019, is a subsidiary of the Indian Railways that handles the catering, tourism and online ticketing operations of the Indian railways. It is the world's second-busiest with around 5,50,000 to 6,00,000 bookings every day.
Prior to its inception, passengers travelling by train had little option for good and clean food. They would have to get off from the trains at stations if they wanted something to eat, and the short halt resulted in passengers rushing to avail of the food at the stalls, creating panic among travellers. After the introduction of IRCTC, pantry cars were introduced inside long or medium distance trains, and passengers were served freshly cooked food.
On September 30, 2019, IRCTC held an initial public offering on the National Stock Exchange, with the base price of shares set between Rs 315 and Rs 320 per share.
IRCTC offers a number of services to passengers like online ticketing, Tatkal scheme, tourism, catering and hospitality.
It has made the booking of rail tickets easier for passengers with its online ticketing service. Customers can book their tickets through its website as well as from their mobile phones via WiFi, GPRS or SMS. Along with booking, it also provides SMS facility to check PNR status and Live Train Status as well. Another feature besides the e-tickets, is the I-tickets that it offers and which works like regular tickets except they are booked online and delivered by post. The website also gives commuters travelling on the suburban rail the option to book season tickets.
The IRCTC has also launched a loyalty program called Shubh Yatra for frequent travelers, by which passengers can avail discounts on all tickets booked round the year by paying an upfront annual fee. It has also launched a Rolling Deposit Scheme (RDS) which allows passengers to reserve seats against advance money kept with the corporation.
Where Tatkal scheme is concerned, the IRCTC allows passengers to book their tickets in almost all Mail/Express trains through the Indian railway's internet portal. The booking is done one day prior to the departure of the train from the source station, and starts at 10:00 am daily for AC coach reservation and for Non-AC timing is residual to 11.00 am. Passengers travelling on Tatkal tickets should carry a photo ID proof along with them to be shown to the ticket checker.
Passengers are allowed to book tickets through e-ticketing all throughout the day except from 11:45 pm to 12:20 am when IRCTC shuts down its main server for 35 minutes for maintenance.
To facilitate the public at large, IRCTC operates a website www.irctctourism.com which has a plethora of offerings including Rail based Packages, Hotels, Railway Retiring Rooms to provide the users a One Stop Solution to all their travel needs. A popular tourism package for budget tourists covering important tourist destinations across India is called "Bharat Darshan". Luxury tourism packages are also available, that involve special luxury trains such as Buddhist Circuit Train and Maharajas' Express operations.
IRCTC operates the Lucknow - New Delhi Tejas Express which had its inaugural service on October 5, 2019 and is the first privately operated long-distance train in India.
IRCTC runs several promos on Facebook - IRCTC/@IRCTCofficial, Twitter - IRCTC/@IRCTCofficial, and Instagram - IRCTCfirstname.lastname@example.org.