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Sharmili Mallick

The Indian Railways and its catering arm, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) have been constantly striving and coming up with new ideas for the convenience of passengers and to provide them safety and security while travelling.

The Indian Railways allows passengers to reserve seats, berths, compartments, and carriages as per the rules and conditions published in the coaching tariff, online as well as offline or from its counters.

As the reservation facility gives confirmed accommodation to passengers during their train journey, it often become a challenge to book reserved tickets. Therefore, in order to ensure smooth travel experience to its customers,  the Indian Railways have come up with many new ways to simplify the reservation system. Here are some steps adopted by the Railway for reserved passengers:

  1. Reservations charts made public: The Indian Railways displays the IRCTC train reservation charts online. The step has been taken so as to facilitate the prospective passengers in getting the information of the vacant berths available in the train after the preparation of the chart. The information on vacant berths are made available to passengers after preparation of the first chart around four hours before the train departure while the second chart is made available around 30 minutes before the departure of the train from the originating station. Changes on the second chart are accommodated based on current reservations or cancellations of tickets after the preparation of first chart. The feature is available on both IRCTC web and mobile app.
  2. Hand-Held Terminals: In another major step towards making reservation easier, the Indian Railways has provided tablet devices called Hand-Held Terminals (HHTs) to TTEs which allows them to update the real-time occupancy status of a running train. The device works through GPRS. Passengers with Reservation Against Cancellation (RAC) or waiting list ticket can check with the HHT about the availability of vacant berths on real time basis.
  3. Prediction tools for waitlist tickets/Vikalp Scheme: The IRCTC keeps on upgrading its officials website to make it passenger-friendly. Last year, in order to provide confirmed accommodation to passengers booking their tickets, the IRCTC added a new feature which allows a passenger to see the probability of confirmation of his/her waitlisted or RAC ticket. The Indian Railways has also recently introduced Vikalp scheme for waitlisted passengers. This scheme now provides confirmed berths to waitlisted passengers in an alternate train.
  1. Ticket PNR linking: With a view to make the refunding process for connecting journeys easier, the IRCTC website and mobile app have introduced a new feature from April 1, where one can link the PNR number of two connecting journeys- both for IRCTC e-tickets and PRS counter tickets or a combination of both. Indian Railways asks passengers to chose the option of linking PNRs, when booking ticket for the second train. Here, if a passenger, travelling with a ticket (with or without reservation) misses the connecting train because of the late running of the first train, then the fare for the portion travelled is retained and the refund is granted on the balance amount.
  2. Aadhaar Verification: The Indian Railways has increased the monthly reservation limit of 6 train tickets per user to 12 tickets in a month. However, to make use of this facility, Aadhaar verification is required. The move is useful for those who travel frequently by Indian Railways.

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