IRCTC App Chugs Along on Windows 8
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Last month, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) announced the official Windows Store app that allows booking train tickets, checking reservation status, train schedules, train routes, and manage booking history. A great win from Microsoft India, the app is a Windows and Windows.

Phone exclusive and developed in partnership with the company.

IRCTC, a subsidiary of Indian Railways, handles the catering, tourism, and online ticketing operations of the railways. Indian Railways is an Indian state-owned enterprise, owned and operated by the

Government of India through the Ministry of Railways. It is one of the world's largest railway networks transporting over 25 million passengers daily.

The Best Part

The app requires you to login using your existing IRCTC website account, by providing the TPIN. It is a 4-digit password that can be generated one-time by logging in your account on the IRCTC website. The

TPIN is sent to the user’s registered mobile number.

Once you’ve logged in, the app design and user experience would delight you. Everything that the user experience and design team at Microsoft envisioned while developing the Microsoft Design Language (formerly called ‘Metro’), comes out elegantly in the IRCTC app.

Of course, the app also combines function with form. It allows seamless lookup of train schedules, routes, and fares and booking tickets. The app also allows you to cancel booked tickets easily. The route information is not just a list of stations, but nicely integrated with Bing Maps. You can also enquire reservation status, pull up passenger information, and check out booking history.

Built on Windows Azure, the app adds to the experience of using the IRCTC website. Since apart from seat availability, most information while looking up trains is not dynamic, the app uses offline caching for quick access to train information. Searching trains or sorting them by name and departure or arrival times is very quick, and breezy.

The app also takes care of my usual annoyance. If the booking process fails at any stage, train and travel information is retained.

The Tragic Flaw

The last mile in the booking process – making payment – is where the app disappoints. It just wraps the payment gateway on IRCTC Website within the app. While it does this neatly, it could definitely be better.

Another missing piece is that while the app uses one’s IRCTC account, it does not sync data. Tickets booked on the Web do not reflect in the app. Although you wouldn’t be able to see your previous bookings, once you start using the app, this won’t be an issue since the app shows booking history of all tickets booked from within the app.

The app does not allow booking tickets between 8 AM to 12 PM and from 11:30 PM to 12 AM, as per the existing IRCTC guidelines. The move to balance the traffic is applicable across apps and the mobile Website.

Should You download?

The app is beautiful and works well, except for a few quirks. There are some nifty additions as well.

The IRCTC Website has a reputation for a frustrating experience, although one would empathize with a service that can handle 2000 tickets per minute, but still get overloaded. If you are on Windows 8, there’s no reason you shouldn’t grab it free from the Windows Store , or from the Windows Phone .

Marketplace if you are a Windows Phone user. While Android and iOS users would be disappointed, the exclusive title for Windows will get Microsoft many brownie points.