I logged into www.indianrail.gov.in to look for availability of tickets from Hyderabad – Vijayawada – Hyderabad, 5-6 days ahead of travel. Status – Seats not available, which did not come as a surprise to me at all. So I approached the travel agent to book me a ticket through Tatkal Service. The service charge he quoted for Tatkal was 1 and ½ times the cost of the actual ticket and of course, I had to pay for the ticket as well. I do not mind paying a charge for service, but I felt that was way too unreasonable.
I remembered my brother, several other friends and relatives talking about booking tickets through IRCTC several times earlier. In fact my brother offered his Login credentials and asked me to give it a try and I jumped at the offer and thought let to check my luck here, as I was not at all comfortable paying an exorbitantly high service charge.
Logged into IRCTC, the search for trains there was very simple; I didn’t have to go through the hassle of retrieving train numbers, etc. Just key in the first 3 digits of destination city and the date of travel and it takes care of the rest. It lists down all the possible options with departure, arrival times and class of travel options available. Just pick the options from there, if seats are available it allows you to proceed further and in case of non-availability; it provides the next available dates. Their booking form is simple it asks for name, age and sex and berth option. It offers wide range of payment options – Credit / debit cards, net banking, etc. The moment the booking is processed, it triggers an SMS to the registered mobile number with PNR details and also an email with the ticket. I was awestruck with the efficiency of the portal and user friendly interface.
Went another step ahead and called their call center for some details and figured out that they are manned with responsive team there as well. :
I was always apprehensive of using the portals powered by Government, for obvious reasons – Transaction gets stuck in mid way, poor service, long processing time for search, unnecessary information would be sought, complex processes, etc. Believe me IRCTC made me change my perspective after I used it for the first time.