Photo: Aam422

Photo credit: Aam422

In hopes of easing pressure during peak hours, Indian Railways has decided to stagger booking of Tatkal tickets by allowing reservations in AC class from 10 am and non-AC class from 11 am. The new schedule will come into effect on 15 June. For all AC classes, Tatkal reservations will open at 10:00 hrs o­n the previous day of the journey, which is unchanged. In the case of non-AC classes, Tatkal reservations will open at 11:00 hrs (instead of 10:00 hrs as at present) o­n the previous day of the journey. This is determined by the date the train departs from the originating station, not the station you are boarding at. I’m not sure this will help anything, but who knows? For some trains, there is a huge rush for Tatkal tickets.

The Tatkal scheme is an ’emergency’ quota for last minute bookings. Many trains are booked up days or weeks in advance, so if you need a ticket quickly and don’t qualify for the Tourist quota (or it’s all booked up), then Tatkal is the option to go for. Currently, a Tatkal ticket can be booked no more than 24 hours before the journey. Of course, this convenience comes with a price. The Tatkal rate is 10 percent of the basic fare for the Second class and 30 percent of the basic fare for all other classes, including AC classes.

Ticket agents are not allowed to book tickets during the first 30 minutes of opening of advance reservation booking, i.e. from 08:00 to 08:30 am for general bookings, from 10:00 to 10:30 am for Tatkal AC tickets booking and from 11:00 to 11:30 am for Tatkal non-AC bookings. It seems that this includes online companies like

Indian Railways is also considering making Tatkal tickets refundable in the case of cancellation of confirmed tickets, with a sliding scale based on the time frame and a refund of up to 50%. That will be a relief for many people as currently you get nothing if you have to cancel a Tatkal ticket.

There are also plans to have some Tatkal special trains on certain busy routes, where all the tickets are Tatkal tickets. For a Tatkal Special train, advance reservation period is of a minimum 10 days and maximum 60 days.

The premium trains that have dynamic pricing according to demand like airlines are now going to be called Suvidha trains. The fare structure will be revised, too. Presently, the way it works, you could end up paying more for a AC 3-tier ticket than one in AC 2-tier, so they want to put an end to “such anomalies.” Not surprisingly, many people are unhappy with the scheme as it is now.

While tickets may only be booked online for the Premium trains, Tatkal Special tickets will be available both at railway ticket counters and online.

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