IRCTC & my Tatkal booking woes..
A really bad start to the day! I wanted to book a train ticket for mom to Ahmadabad from Chennai on tatkal. Having already booked tatkal tickets to Hyderabad on yatra and cleartrip, I never really wanted to login to irctc. But since yatra and cleartrip have been giving up on my mom’s journey for the last few days, I decided to give IRCTC a try this morning. Having known that login would be impossible after 7.50 AM, I logged in as early as 7.20 AM. Doing what? Clicking random links to keep the connection active.
IRCTC did sometimes throw me out with errors that aren’t meant to be understood, and then expecting you to re-login. What I did was kept searching for trains, looking at fares or route, something that I knew wouldn’t give me errors. It kept my connection alive..
7.55 AM, I opened the quick book page (one page to enter all details, including payment type selection making booking a lot faster), filled in the details and checked if the connection was open. It wasn’t, it shouldn’t be, and it was only 7.57. Kept clicking the quick book button hoping to keep the connection active, also hoping that it will let me book as soon as the clock showed 8.
IRCTC lived up to what was expected. 8.03, quick book, “Sorry bookings for tatkal will open after 8 AM only”. 8.05, same! To double check, checked booking status with Cleartrip, it didn’t let me in either. May be the time on the phone was fast (even though it was synced with the time at the railway station). Patience was at test, 8.10, same message.
Cleartrip had gone into the next page; it however did make me wait for a couple of minutes again to retrieve the current status. Boom, Waiting list! Yatra kept searching forever, and IRCTC showing the same stupid message: “Booking open after 8.00 hrs only”… WTH!
I logged into IRCTC again at around 8.15 to confirm the waitlist status of the tickets. All tickets were booked. All my time since morning, a mere waste!
Here’s a screenshot of the page where i spent most of my time. (This was taken at around 8.58AM) See anything weird?
You should have probably guessed it. The time on the yellow bar on the top of the page shows the time of login, and it does not change. Now if the code is written to look at this time instead of the current time on the server, it’s a bug; and that probably explains me not being allowed through to the payment page – My time read 7.36 AM when I was trying to book the ticket at 8.01 hrs.
So, I didn’t get it, I will report this to IRCTC. I was able to go through the login problem, but I wasn’t able to quick book a ticket. Now that I know what my problem could have been, I’ll try it one last time tomorrow. Let’s see if that really was the case.
But is there a bigger problem? A news story on Aaj Tak, a few days back, was about a sting operation on some agents who sold tickets in black. Further inquiry revealed that they were able to block the tickets in advance, and then book them when the servers opened for booking… Bloody fraud! It may also have been the case? There is a separate login for agents on IRCTC, but it should officially have the block ticket functionality?
My friend, an agent wouldn’t tell me the secret, and he like every other agent said: “Tatkal reservation opens the same time to everyone, even for agents”, What I guess he didn’t say was: “As an agent, I’m able to block a ticket a day in advance and then book it as Tatkal opens. The government wouldn’t tell you that, obviously!”
Please write letters to news editors of national newspapers asking them to publish the woes of customers trying to book Tatkal online. A lot of letters might just force the news paper or the government to at least start a probe..!
There is definitely some kind of fraud going on otherwise how would there be no chance of booking at all?
Find Great deals on Best Stuff in your city @ www.mydala.com
PS: First blog post on the DTH Reviews that I promised will be published tomorrow. Do come back.