It seems to be a very interesting scheme, isn’t it? Yes, I am talking about the Indian Railway ticket bookings. IRCTC has blessed all Indians by introducing the online ticket booking services. Eventually they also introduced an app through which the tickets can be booked with a touch of your mobile screen. Wow, isn’t our country moving towards digital India? You might feel that with the dream which our honorable Prime Minister showed us, we are on the right path. But really, are we?
My family and I are frequent commuters of Indian Railway and always book the ticket online by IRCTC Next Gen website or through IRCTC Rail Connect app. I feel so glad to say I always get all tickets confirmed whenever I want to travel off season (i.e any time other than vacation). But the problems mount when it comes to booking tickets during summers or the Ganesh utsav.
My first experience, for this summer, I tried to book the ticket three months back in January. No tickets were available of a single train on a route where daily around 20 trains ply to the specified destination (Mumbai to Ratnagiri). So I planned to book the ticket in Tatkal facility provided by IRCTC.
No wonder, the app which opens the next page in seconds takes two minutes just to get logged in and two to three minutes on every step of booking. The heights of frustration come when you find that there are 27 tickets available and the booking tab is green, you select the passengers from master list and the moment you do the online payment you get tickets under waiting list. It is just the matter of four to five minutes and your bookings are just screwed.
Another time, I tried to book the ticket for the same route (Ratnagiri to CSTM) on September 17 and the message showed, “This action not allowed as date given is outside Advance Reservation Period”. I checked for September 16 and all the trains were showing on waiting list as well. Which meant the booking for September 17 will open on the very next day.
The next day when I logged in I again found all the trains with same message “Regret or Waiting List”. I was left wondering how so many seats got booked within minutes on the very first day of booking and why a common individual user of the IRCTC is not getting a reservation.
The truth lies in the fact it has all been a part of business where people approach the agents for booking the tickets during the peak season. The ticket which costs ₹500 are sold at ₹1000 by the agents. My question to IRCTC is, why are there agents for selling the IRCTC tickets? Why are Indian railways not taking the sole initiative to sell their own tickets? How do so many agents manage to book the tickets online? Why is there a separate login for agents?
And friends you shall never get answers to these questions from any of the authorities and you may know. I had also come across a situation where the RAC berth had been shared by two people and the money of two tickets had been charged by the railways. You can imagine, if at least one RAC berth is shared between two people in every coach of every train and every day the amount of extra money that Indian Railways take from us.
The moral of the story is that a huge mass of the country is approaching towards digital India by booking the tickets through agents, rather than just doing it themselves. And Indian Railways is reaping most of the benefits.