Tips for Using the IRCTC to Book a Ticket
When booking a ticket online with the Indian Railway, you will use the IRCTC website. If you are booking a ticket in advance, and all seats are already booked, you will be given an RAC, or Reservation Against Cancellation. This means you are in a queue for an open seat.
It can be hard, however, to predict whether there will be a cancellation in any of them.
Below are some easy ways to figure out the likelihood that you will get a seat.
Different Types of Waiting Lists
First, here are the main types of waiting lists used by the IRCTC:
- WL: This is the most common waiting list. It is for tickets booked on the waiting list.
- LDWL: This is the waiting list ticket for tickets in the ladies' seats.
- CKWL: This is the waiting list for tatkal, or short-notice travel, tickets. Tickets on this list will advance to confirmed only if someone who also with a booked tatkal ticket cancels, so the chance of getting your ticket confirmed is small if your waiting list position is greater than ten.
- PQWL: This is the waiting list ticket against the pooled quota. The chance of getting this ticket confirmed is very small.
Chances of Getting a Confirmation
In order to predict your chance of getting to travel with your ticket, follow these steps.
- Go to the India Rail Information site and create an account or sign in.
- Go to the PNR Forum.
- Enter your PNR (passenger reservation number) and click on "Post PNR for Prediction/Analysis."
You will see the details of your booking. Post them on the forum. The members of this forum are experienced, so their predictions about whether a ticket will be confirmed or not are generally accurate. When I posted my booking details, I got a response from five different people in 5–10 minutes.
You may also want to try using this site's analytics to predict your chances. Visit ConfirmTkt and enter your booking details. The algorithm calculates your odds based upon past ticketing trends.
What Waiting List Numbers Mean
There is a confusing display on the IRCTC website. If you see something like "WL 24/WL15" while you are trying to book a waiting list ticket, this means that you are 24th on the waiting list, but that there are already nine cancellations so your current waiting list position is 15th.
When more people cancel their confirmed tickets, your first number will remain the same ie WL 24, but the next one will decrease. When you reach RAC status, you can travel on the train.
What Quotas Mean
Indian Railways trains have quotas, which means they set aside seats for specific individuals. These include foreign tourists, ladies, physically handicapped passengers, and defense personnel.
The quotas can take up a large block of seats. However, they don't exist on all trains. If the quotas don't get filled (which is often), the empty seats are released to the general public on a waiting list when the train's chart is prepared about four hours before departure.
Different Kinds of Tickets
After a limit of nearly 90 seats, the IRCTC starts alloting tickets to the waiting lists. There are several different kinds of tickets:
- Confirmed Tickets: These tickets are confirmed against a particular seat number. You will get the seat specified on the ticket that is generated after the booking procedure.
- RAC (Reservation Against Cancellation): These tickets are given after filling all of the general seats available at the time of booking. They are confirmed if anyone cancels his confirmed ticket. Normally, nearly 90 seats are allotted as RAC tickets. If you get on a train with an unconfirmed RAC ticket, you will have to share a single berth with another person. Usually ticket examiners will check such seats and allot them to the available vacant seats.
- Waiting List Tickets: These tickets are allotted after all RAC tickets have been distributed. If you booked online and have a waiting list ticket, you will not be able to travel on the train. If you booked your waiting list ticket directly at a railway station ticket counter, you can travel but in no particular seat if none are vacant. Waiting list tickets booked online are no good if they do not advance to at least RAC status. If you are unable to use your ticket, your money will be credited back to your online banking account, minus a service charge.
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