Founded in the British era, the Indian Railways have flourished over the years. The first passenger train ran in 1853, an astonishing 94 years before India won its independence from the British. IT
carried 400 people across 14 different carriages. Presently, the Indian Railways is the primary mode of inter-state and inter-city transport for more than 8 billion passengers every year. It has grown massively over the years.
The Importance of Ticketing
For any large organization, management and planning is often the most essential and difficult task. Without a robust system in place, efficient and effective ticket sales and operations become a
nightmare. Till the end of the 1980s, the Indian Railways only allowed manual booking of tickets. This meant that one has to travel all the way to the nearest station to make a booking. For those
living quite far away, it was a tedious task to go all the way to the station, make the reservation and return home. Not to mention the queues those were known to typically form at these stations.
Since 1987, the railways have used a computerized ticketing system. This significantly reduced the amount of paperwork and effort of its employees, while ensuring better and faster results. With the rise of the World Wide Web in the 90s, the ticketing system went online in 1995. Presently, almost all the stations have a ticketing network that is computerized, except for some remote areas in the country. A number of channels exist to book a train between two stations in India. Presently, with a multitude of technologies being implemented by the railways, you can check train timings, irctc pnr status, and other features with ease, from the comfort of your home.
Unreserved Tickets: Going on the unreserved compartments required an incredible amount of luck. Tickets were nearly impossible to procure during the peak season, and there would be a lot of shoving and pushing throughout the journey. For 10+ hour journeys, unreserved tickets do not exist, since standing for the entire trip is an arduous task. Reserved Tickets: Reservations may be made 120 days prior to the journey through the IRCTC and other websites, through SMS, manual booking at counters in stations, and mobile applications. The confirmed tickets will display the details of the passenger and the fare, with the berth and seat numbers allocated to the passengers.
In case the reservations are not available, a system known as a waiting list is introduced. In the case that cancellations are made, the front most on this waiting list queue are allotted the ticket. If the ticket is not confirmed by the day of boarding or departure, then those tickets on the waiting list are cancelled, and money is refunded.
Tatkal Tickets: Due to high demand for tickets, a provision for those wanting to travel at short notice is also made. These tickets are sold under the Tatkal scheme and are priced higher than the normal tickets. Bookings open at 10 AM on the day before the journey. Generally, about 80% of the Tatkal tickets are occupied during the peak season, allowing trains to run at maximum capacity.
Premium Tatkal: With the popularity of the Tatkal scheme, the new category of tickets, known as Premium Tatkal was brought in. Beginning from the 1 st of October 2014, the program was started with just about 80 trains. It covered nearly half of the tickets on specific trains and operates just like the Tatkal ticket. The major differences, however, are that Premium Tatkal can only be booked online and will be priced at nearly 2 times that of the regular Tatkal tickets.
Such a comprehensive ticketing mechanism is essential for operating an organization as large as the Indian Railways, especially in a country with a population as large as India.