Difficulties in booking online on Indian Railways

The new IRCTC website should make booking easy, right? Wrong! I booked for a train, and then decided to advance the date of travel. I knew this was possible, but could not find out any way to do it on the site. So I googled, and finally called 139 to ask how to do it. The reply: advancement (“preponement”) or postponement cannot be done on e-tickets, they can only be done on tickets booked at the railway counters!

You think that’s funny? Wait.

I tried to book two tickets. One is confirmed, and the other one is RAC1. The site did not accept payment for both tickets, and though the sum was deducted from my bank account, the transaction failed. I don’t know when I will get the money refunded. I live in hope.

So today my friend went to book the tickets at the railway counter. The lady at the counter told her, “RAC1 will not get confirmed as the train is from Delhi. You will not be able to travel.” Now this is wrong as for RAC (Reservation Against Cancellation) a seat is assured, it’s only the berth that is given against a cancellation.

I explained this to my friend…and she went again to the counter to book the tickets. Lo and behold, the person at the counter was also not able to book one confirmed and one RAC ticket. There is some glitch in the software that we have run into.

We tried to circumvent the problem this way: She would book the confirmed ticket at the counter, and then I would book online for the RAC ticket. But no…after the confirmed berths were booked, I could not book an RAC ticket at all (Karnataka, Express, 12628, from Daund Junction to Bangalore City Station, departing on the 8th of Jan, on A/C 1st class). I got a “regret” message on the site, when it should have been RAC1.

Welcome to the age of the internet. The railway software, however, makes it a much worse task to book two tickets, than it has ever been!

Satarupa Sen Bhattacharya commented thus on my post: ” We had confirmed tickets, booked online. 10 days prior to the journey, we wanted to check if another ticket was available … and guess what, we discovered the train itself is cancelled! Called 139… they said two words: train cancelled ..and hung up. Till date (journey was tomorrow) we have not received a single message from IRCTC. Were it not for that one extra ticket we needed, we would just have packed our bags, landed at the station tomorrow morning and discovered that we weren’t going after all!”

Kishan SB commented:

“Lucky your account is working. They have blocked my phone number and email. No use calling help desk. Worst service from IRCTC.”

I am writing to the Southern Railways about this, but I expect the usual response: None.

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