There are three things on my mind now, one, vulture politics, second, the Tatkal Tamasha and the third, Home Loan Chaos. What shall I write over? Well, let me start with the Tatkal Tamasha and get over to another things later.
The concept of Tatkal is simple. It’s a last minute availability quota for trains. It gives a chance to people who don’t plan well ahead but will be forced to make a journey on the fly. Conceptually, it’s excellent. But, with the level of train seat availability in India, on critical days(Friday/Sunday) on over night journey routes with potentially heavy traffic, the trains are never sufficient. This leads to tremendous pressure on the Tatkal network and no one, literally no one gets a confirmed seat. Have a look at the number of Tatkal seats available between Hyderabad and Chennai

  2A   3A   SL
12760   CHARMINAR EXP   24   32   302
12604   CHENNAI EXP   24   32   286
17652   KCG MS EXP   10   32   175
58   96   763

Are we seriously saying 100 3rd AC and 750 Sleeper Tickets are more than enough for a high traffic route like Hyderabad to Chennai? I tried to book a ticket in one of the trains today. below is the status

10:00 Available 28
10:01 Payment confirmation sent from bank to IRCTC
10:02 Request still processing – payment failed
10:03 Attempted to book the ticket again – W/L 25
10:05 Ticket Confirmed – W/L 22
There are three issues here.
1. Seats are not sufficient
2. Handover from banks to IRCTC is not smooth
3. Even if transaction failed, the ticket got booked. This means, to cancel the waitlisted ticket, I had to  shell out a margin of 65 rupees plus 10 rupees for transaction fee for the bank.

Now, the questions are these –
1. On what basis are new trains decided? Going by the fact that none of the major routes with heavy weekend traffic have sufficient trains, what can be done to add extra trains to handle the load?
2. I don’t know if any gateway can be built capable of handling Indian volumes. Rather than this, instead of getting a confirmation from the bank, it would be much easier if the ticket is locked once a request is sent to the bank, not based on the confirmation. By increasing a confirmation window to, say, three hours, everyone will be able to manage the load by releasing data in a staggered manner. After all, if there is no cash, the ticket will be cancelled and a waitlisted will get the ticket
3. Waitlisting in theory, is a failure from the government in providing services. If a ticket is waitlisted, there shouldn’t be any basis for deduction of the ticket amount from the customer – neither from the bank or from the railways. For a ticket which I don’t want, I lost 75 rupees today, and that too, for two transactions. 75 per transaction for a wait listed ticket may not be that big for me, but think how much money railways earns because of this dummy transaction. After all, if it’s a Tatkal ticket and if it is cancelled, you will get a refund minus service charge.

Indian Railways is one of the biggest entities in the world with respect to work force, revenue, number of transactions and it’s IT backbone. There is too much to wish for, but there are still avenues for improvement.

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