From real-time vacant berth status updates to public reservation charts and biometric linking, Indian Railways passengers now have a higher chance of getting seats in trains.
IRCTC train tickets: Getting a confirmed Indian Railways train ticket can often be a headache, with lakhs of people using the network on a daily basis. Apart from opening advanced booking 120 days ahead of the train departure date, Indian Railways has been taking several innovative steps to increase the chances of passengers getting confirmed seats. From real-time vacant berth status updates to public reservation charts and biometric linking, Indian Railways passengers now have a higher chance of getting seats in trains. Additionally, steps like waitlisted prediction and PNR linking for easy refunds has also made train travel a smoother experience for passengers. We take a look at 5 innovative steps by Indian Railways to make ticket booking and refunds for connecting journeys easier:
1. Reservation charts go public: Following the airline-style model, Indian Railways recently made its reservation charts public. This allows passengers to make a more informed choice since the status of any vacant berths is visible after chart preparation. While the first chart is available online, 4 hours before the train’s departure, the second chart is made available 30 minutes before departure. Additionally, the layout of train coaches across all classes is also visible. The biggest benefit for passengers is that TTE will not be able to deny the availability of seats on an ad-hoc basis.
2. Hand-Held terminals: Indian Railways has introduced the concept of Hand-Held Terminals (HHTs) in its premium trains such as Shatabdi and Rajdhani Express. The HHT is a GPS-enabled, mini tablet-like device given to TTEs to update the real-time occupancy status in a running train. This helps passengers boarding trains from subsequent stations bag confirmed seats or berths. It is also a boon for waitlisted and RAC passengers. The TTE, while checking the tickets on a running train can update if a reserved seat is vacant due to the passenger not have boarded the train. The status of berths is updated on the tablet device and the berth then gets allotted to a waitlisted or RAC passenger.
3. Biometric linking: Getting seats in an unreserved coach can be a pain for passengers. Keeping that in mind, Indian Railways has introduced a new biometric system on an experimental basis under the Western Railway zone. Indian Railways has taken this step due to frequent complaints of seat cornering by antisocial elements in unreserved coaches. Now, under the biometric system, passengers purchasing tickets for the general class will have to get their fingerprint scanned. This will help generate a token, which in turn has to be shown to the RPF staff during biometric verification at the time of boarding the train. Since most trains arrive at the platform a few minutes before departure, this will help avoid a stampede like situation as well.
4. CNF probability: With the upgradation of IRCTC web portal last year, Indian Railways had introduced a feature called CNF Probability. This feature gives passengers a forecast of confirmation probability, determining the chances of getting a confirmed seat. To check the CNF Probability, login to your IRCTC account and enter your desired ‘from’ and ‘to’ stations, date of journey along with other details. Now, click on ‘find trains’ option, following which a list of trains will be displayed. Now, select the desired train and click on ‘check availability and fare’. If there are no seats available, click on ‘CNF Probability’ for the date you want to commence the train journey. In case the chances of a confirmed ticket are less, passengers can opt for another train or date of journey. They can also go for the VIKALP scheme that helps allot seats in an alternate train.
5. PNR linking: Another major move by Indian Railways to improve the experience of connecting train journeys is the introduction of the concept of linking PNRs. Now, passengers can link two PNRs for connecting train journey, both for PRS counter tickets and IRCTC e-tickets or a combination of both. As per the new rule, if a passenger, travelling with a ticket (with or without reservation) misses the connecting train due to delay of the first train, then the fare for the portion travelled is retained and the refund is provided on the balance amount. The refund granted in this case is the fare of the untravelled portion.