Increased allocation under tatkal deprives regular rail travellers of confirmed seats
Alekh Angre 10 March 2011

Is the Indian Railways hoarding seats under the tatkal scheme to earn more revenue, enriching agents and touts in the process?

It seems that the Indian Railways (IR) has found a novel idea of earning more money. While passengers complain that wait-list tickets remain unconfirmed, tatkal booking which provides for booking at short notice is being given preference.

Under the tatkal scheme, a passenger is required to pay some extra money, over and above the regular fare, which helps in collecting more revenues for the railways. According to information on the website of Indian Railways, the maximum tatkal charges range between Rs150 and Rs300, depending on the class of travel-from second (sitting) up to executive class.

The question is should tatkal bookings be given preference over the regular reservation system which requires passengers to make bookings months in advance?

Moneylife has consistently maintained that the current tatkal system is being gamed by touts and agents and that all the seats vanish, no sooner the tatkal reservation window is opned. Therefore, travellers are unable to book the tickets on their own and they have to depend on these agents who charge higher rates and a commission.

Rakesh Agrawal, a Pune-based passenger, who failed to get confirmed tickets despite trying to book early on a Pune-Hyderabad train in June 2010, was shocked to discover that several passengers had been given preference under tatkal, whereas he was left with unconfirmed tickets and could not make the journey. "I had a waiting list number 2, 3 at the same time that another passenger applying through the tatkal scheme was also on waiting list number 2, 3. But he got the seat and I didn't," says Mr Agarwal.

Mr Agarwal told Moneylife that the train from Borivali to Jaipur (named Dee Garibrath, no-12216) has more seats set aside under tatkal than under the general quota. According to information available, the train scheduled on 24 April 2011 has 421 seats (Class 3A) under the tatkal quota, whereas there is already a wait-list of 129 people (WL 177/WL 129) under the general quota for Class 3A reservation on this train. The ratio of seats and wait-list is similar for the services operated on other days of the week also.

Following this unpleasant experience, Mr Agarwal tried to seek an explanation about the allocation of seats under the different quotas from the Railway Board, under the Right to Information Act. "In its reply, the Railway Board simply stated that tatkal waiting list passengers are given preference for allotment," he said.

Moneylife spoke to V Malegaonkar, chief public relations officer of Central Railway about the seat allocation under the tatkal scheme. Mr Malegaonkar explained, "It is quite possible that there would be more coaches for tatkal reservation under various denominations, depending on the popularity of the train. But generally we have one or two coaches under the tatkal scheme."

Passengers like Mr Agarwal who pre-plan their journey, complain that due to the tatkal scheme, regular travellers who book in advance are losing out on seats.

"People buy train tickets well in advance-15 to 20 days or a month before the journey date. Indian Railways issues tickets even 90 days in advance. But what is the use of standing in long queues for hours together to buy a ticket when one cannot be certain about confirmation. But people buying tatkal tickets just two days before the journey shelling out extra amounts are getting confirmed tickets. I condemn this system whereby 25% of the seats are allocated to the tatkal scheme leading to problems for people buying general quota tickets," reads a comment on a consumer complaints website.

Under the tatkal scheme booking opens at 8am, two days before the actual date of the journey. Even under this scheme, people complain that most of the time they are unable to book tickets due to some error that occurs on the website of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC), which suggests that the system is gamed.

Moneylife has written earlier, how the travel website had advertised that it is the 'fastest' channel for booking tatkal tickets, even as IRCTC's website provides the same facility. (Read, 'Can make its customer's day?')

is in the process of finding out how many trains block a higher number of seats for the tatkal scheme over and above the seats available on the regular reservation system that is accessed by most travellers. If you have details, or an experience to share, post your comments in the space provided at the end of this story.

k s kumar
8 years ago
K S Kumar

tatkal reservations are available to book 1day prior to the actual journey date. the timings are 10am to 11am. the improved version of NEXT GENERATION RESERVATION SYSTEM is definitely better in terms of accessibility of IRCTC.
1 decade ago

i hv always maintained that the 'tatkal' is nothing but a legalised governmental blackmarketing of rail tickets at the cost of honest, hapless travelling public! it must be stopped forthwith by a pil or soemthing like that.

the old system of 'rac' (reservation against cancellation) was much better in which the pax had, at least, a chance of travelling even though 'sitting' in a reserved sleeper compartment. the 'rac' system can be improved by following an innovative system by some airlines which offer premium money to those reserved pax who are willing to forgo their travel in favour of more needy pax on the tatkal waiting list. that way, the premium money goes to the earlier pax and not to the railways. the loophole of speculators needs to be shud under this system.
1 decade ago
Railway dept is now a days not working for common people. I booked a ticket(SL) on 18-Mar-11 (from :PUNE to Erode and my date of journey is 27-May-11. Train no :-16339 Train name : NAGARCOIL EXP ). That time it was showing WL-18. After 60 days, today (17-May-11) when i checked the status, it is WL-14.
I've been using Train service since 2007, but till last year this scenario never came into picture. Tickets are not getting confirmed, even if we are booking in well advance, say 75 days before. As per Tatkal quota, total no of seats aavailability in this train is 239 (SL)
Replied to sankar comment 1 decade ago
Again I am back to say "my ticket did not get confirmed”. I booked my ticket almost 70 days ago (on 18/03/2011). Waiting list now (27/05/11, infact my journey date) reduced from 18 to 12. Great job railway dept.
Thanks for sucking common people blood by increasing the tatkal quota at the cost of General reservation seat quota. I request my beloved people of this country to not believe our railway dept because they legally doing illegal thinking by promoting block marketing in the name of TATKAL. Now railway and agents are enjoying the profit. Not commuters like us.

Who will save Indian common people?
I am not only talking about Railway and also other govt depts. Only govt is helping rich people to make them richer by sucking common people blood, so that poor can become poorer.
K B Patil
Replied to sankar comment 1 decade ago
It is clear that insiders are sabotaging the reservation system. Earlier, atleast during the monsoon, you did not seen long waiting lists on every train. Now each and every train shows waiting lists weeks in advance and there are hardly any cancellations which is abnormal and gives clear room for suspicion. As long as we have populist railway ministers like Laloo and Mamata, there is no hope. They have no long term vision. Experts say that China and India had rougly the same situation in the 70s. Now, they have gone ahead and have increased railway facilities all over China. They also boast of world class fast trains. The best example of their sincerity is the train from Beijing to Tibet. We struggle to complete projects on the plains while they have conquered Himalayas.
1 decade ago
can you tell me what does this mean WL 82/WL 59 in irctc.i have booked a ticket in tatkal in SL and its showing status WL 82/WL 59.train is on 2 may.will i be allowed to board the train??
1 decade ago
Date of Journey was 22-04-11 in previous post by typo it has been 21-04-11
1 decade ago
I had booked my ticket 90 days ahead of my journey on 21-04-11 from Mumbai to Allahabad by Kolkata Mail 12322 with PNR No. 815-1745576 which got status as WL/1. I booked it on 22-01-11 and kept on checking for it's confirmation and to my surprise it didn't get confirmed even after the chart preparation around 7:25 PM just 2 Hours ahead of my journey. When around 8:30 PM just an hour before the train departure, I checked the seat availability under Tatkal scheme it showed WL/AVAILABLE i.e. Berths were available in Tatkal scheme even after the chart preparation and the day long in the Tatakal scheme status was WL/11 that means all the 11 seats got confirmed and still berths were available under this scheme while the WL/1 which has been booked 3 months in advance has not been considered even after some berths vacant in Tatkal scheme. After that I checked in many trains from Mumbai to Allahabad and to my surprise an hour before invariably for all classes in almost all the trains berths are available under Tatkal and Not available under General Quota.
What pained me more is due to some vested interest of some people some where the national resource is being highly mis-utilized. As WL/1 I should have got the confirmed berth when there were berths in Tatkal quota available but that went un-utilized. Is there some one listening to it or it has just become routine exploitation of common people even by the government.
K B Patil
1 decade ago
For the last six or seven years, Railways have not increased fares. This is not sensible for such a large organisation. From Bangalore to Gulbarga, the 3 tier berth costs Rs.280 or so. Till 2003 or 2004, there was not a single private bus. Now six to eight sleeper coaches run between the two cities and charge in the range of 700 to 800. These buses are having 90 to 100% occupancy. It clearly indicates the paying capacity of the travelling public. If the railway fares are increased by 25%, we will not complain since it is more comfortable to travel compared to road. Ministers like Laloo and Mamta look to short term gains and are totally disinterested in the long term progress of railways. As a result, it is we who suffer.
1 decade ago

railway's tatkal is nothing but organised, govt. backed blackmarketing & must be stopped forthwith. there are better, efficient ways to cater for last minute, emergency cases.
1 decade ago
Few more facts:
Tatkal 11- 3-2011 WL 16/WL 11 WL 57/WL 42 vs General 11- 3-2011 WL 144/WL 59 WL 789/WL 556-- Prev limit of WL

Why 800 waiting list when 100 WL itself does clear?
Tatkal 15- 4-2011 AVAILABLE 32 AVAILABLE 216 vs Gen 15- 4-2011 WL 73/WL 55 WL 362/WL 274

216 seats - how many bogies?- 3 bogies Tatkal?

ii) ref train JP-Pune of 24/2/11, PNR-8538890734 paid Rs 800 to get 2 HO quota seats. Railway Vigilance, PG is mum on this info. Perhaps are well aware about this ongoing sale.

Its interesting to note, in same train, same day, that till last moment my WL was 7 in 3AC for Railway's hoarding. Details to show your hoarding

i) (8+7) 15 seats were vacant in 3rd AC

ii) 28 seats from SL were upgraded to 3AC

iii) 17 general WL at chart time were cleared.

iv) 16+6WL Tatkal were cleared

In total you hoarded 82 seats- more than a coach if we consider there were no last minute cancellation.

Why does Railway hoard?

If we have Rail HO quota, why do we need another emergency quota as Tatkal? What for is HO quota 30% used?
As RailBoard put, no WL is confirmed as all cancelled/quaota release is given to Tatkal, it may cancel general quota. Have just Tatkal quota( 10 days prior booking). 2 days prior Tatkal booking creates unncessary shortage and rush to counters.

We can understand that Railway can be broke for high staff. Then Rail need not give Rs 6000 crore of dividend to

Besides this, I request you cancel or modify Tatkal system for following reason.

- Railways is not to profiteer but for equal service to all
- There is existing different quotas( as per Rail- 44 quota) which should be used for emergency for public. Presently this is prerogative
of railways and its acquaintances.

- People Q up at 4-5 am as tickets are sold in an 5-10 min of 8 am.
- People who booked way in advance 3 months in advance- don’t get the tickets confirmed for tatkal.


a. Compensation of tatkal fee to Railway cancelled ticket, charged from other passengers whose right to board
was taken away by tatkal system.

b. If you insist on tatkal to earn extra income, the people should be given choice to pay extra under tatkal( as
you ask for upgradation choice) and TTE can collect extra fare in train from those travellers who didn't get the ticket confirmed under general scheme but premium ticket.

c. Refund of full fare- including service charge, in case of cancellation from railways for not giving seat and not
allowing to board in case of e-ticket or otherwise.[ Presently it books 900 WL seats who it doesn't intend to give seat for Tatkal as its gives priority to Tatkal]

1 decade ago
421 seats shows 7 bogies of Tatkal out of total 13 bogies- More than 54% seats. There are 30% Railway quota.

What is left to public is 20% and then railway removed WL limit from 500 to unlimited ! unlimited cancellation charges earning! Vow!
1 decade ago
There is some scandal going on for Tatkal online booking. This is experienced and echoed by all. When one tries to book Tatkal ticket through IRCTC, it allows to book only from 8 am onwards. So one waits for the exact time and the moment you then try to book, the site will not respond. All your attempts will fail till around 20 minutes by which all Tatkal tickets are gone and then you are able to access it, you only get waitlisted tickets. There was quite a noise about it some time back but it still persists. It was mentioned in the articles that this is due to a clear nexus between agents and authorities.
K B Patil
1 decade ago
On 7th March, I booked a train ticket online (through Makemytrip) after failing to do so on IRCTC website (site was terribly slow). The ticket was from Bangalore to Gulbarga on Basava Express (train no.17307, 3 tier AC date of journey 10th March). While booking, I gave my preference as lower berth. The berth allotted was upper. When the ticket holder (my wife) boarded the train, she found the bogie had many empty berths. The TTE permitted her to occupy the lower berth due to the poor occupancy. This experience of ours is not for the first time. Altogether, it is not at all a pleasant experience on Indian Railways.
Free Helpline
Legal Credit