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Tech Tips, Tricks & Trivia

by 'Anil' Radhakrishna
An architect's notes, experiments, discoveries and annotated bookmarks.

Search from over a hundred HOW TO articles, Tips and Tricks

Tatkal Train Ticket Reservation Tips

Tatkal train ticket reservation is a ray of hope for millions of Indians who prefer to commute by trains over other forms of travel even if they have to pay extra because the original reserved ticket quota has run out. The IRCTC website is possibly the best known site in India as it helps travellers avoid the long queues at the train reservation centers. It is also probably the most hated site as getting the more premium Tatkal ticket is a harrowing experience.
Update (13-Mar-2012): In an Economic Times interview, the Head of  IRCTC, Rakesh Kumar Tandon informs that of the 8 lakh people who log on simultaneously between 8 am 8.10am, only 50,000 manage to get tickets! He attributes one customer-centric reason for the delay in completion of the Tatkal transaction to berth preference. It takes time for the system to find a particular berth. Going by this hint, a Lower berth is probably most preferred while going by experience, Side Upper is least preferred. So you could try your luck by choosing a Side Upper berth preference.
Some of these tips to book a Tatkal train ticket online maybe too obvious for experienced folks so don't write to tell me. If you like them, tell your friends. None of these tips guarantee confirmed availability as they are numerous factors involved that matter (like season, day of the week, route etc), these may just improve your chances. Here are the tips that I usually offer to my relatives who are not Internet power-users -
  • (Added on 20/Nov/2013) Use IRCTC's new payment mode e-wallet as the payment step finishes faster than with credit card, debit card or Net bankingThe e-wallet is a rolling deposit scheme wherein the customers will have an account with the IRCTC and deposit money to be used in future for booking e-tickets from its website (www.irctc.co.in). Only PAN card verified users can register this scheme. There is a non-refundable registration fee of Rs 250 according to the e-wallet user guide [PDF]For every e-Wallet transaction, there is also an additional eWallet Transaction charge of Rs 5.
  • Many cities have multiple stations and IRCTC will get you results for all stations for that city. If the original station codes don't match, you will have to subsequently fill another form to specify the exact FROM & TO stations which is a waste of precious seconds during the first half-hour of Tatkal booking.
  • Keep alternative station codes ready. Don't wait for the autocompletion feature to fill-in the FROM & TO fields. 
  • There MAY be a greater probability of getting Tatkal tickets on long distance trains as they will cost more than those which run between major cities and they are less known as they don't run on all days of the week. 
  • Keep long words like your name and bank details saved in Notepad/text editor so that you can quickly copy-paste. Youngsters are generally quick with the keyboard (due to the long hours they spend on the computer) so you could get a power user to assist you in case typing isn't your strongest skill. It may help to have multiple people around while booking in order to take quick decisions & also to sanity check the data that is being entered. For instance, mis-typing the gender in the hurry could lead you to do some explaining to the TTE or a visit to the reservation office to get it corrected.
  • Use a modern browser (not IE6 or older versions of other popular browsers) as they load pages relatively faster.
  • Your IRCTC "session" may time out if you leave the site unused for a long time. If you anticipate the reservation exercise to take a lot of time, use Opera browser's native auto-refresh feature or use this bookmarklet in IE, Firefox, Safari & Chrome to automatically refresh a webpage at specified intervals.
  • Get the fastest Internet service possible (3G USB) & browse from a decent laptop. That way you can avoid any disruption due to an unfortunate powercut or a landline Internet service issue. If you perform a dry-run before the actual exercise, some elements of the IRCTC site like images maybe cached and may improve speed slightly.
  • Rather than take a single direct train, you can use 90di.com to look for multiple trains in the same route. You have to compromise on comfort & cost but at least you may be able to get confirmed tickets.
  • Every second counts, so keep yourself distraction free & busy till you have finished all options.
  • Each user is currently permitted to book only 10 tickets in a month. So if you book a lot of tickets, make sure you are not crossing the monthly limit before you start the Tatkal ticket booking adventure. In such a case, you can be prepared with credentials of another userid.
A scenario that I foresee for the future in case IRCTC doesn't tackle the "Service Unavailable" issue (which typically comes up between 8-8:20 AM) is that desperate train ticket seekers will stand in queues with their smartphones at ticket reservation counters to try their luck both online & offline.

If you end up without confirmed Tatkal tickets at the end of the fateful first hour of booking, take consolation in the fact that you are one among thousands that had the same luck. Instead of despairing, consider this as a learning experience & a practice session for a future encounter with IRCTC.

If you have any practical tips, feel free to share them through the comments section below.

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Posted by Anonymous Anonymous | 7/25/2011 05:57:00 PM

If a passenger is travelling on tatkal reservation detected without ID proof then how much panalty/fare he can be charged!    

Posted by Blogger Anil | 9/01/2011 01:41:00 PM

A passenger failing to carry proof of id will be treated as travelling without ticket and shall be dealt as per extant Railway Rules - https://www.irctc.co.in/beta_htmls/etktfaq.html#Q6    


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