The State Of Railway e-Ticketing In India

I am a regular user of the Indian Railways e-ticketing system. I use it almost every month to book tickets from my college to home. There is only one train from my college to home, so I never noticed all that is wrong with the ticketing system. Recently, the train which I usually travel by was already fully booked, so I had to look for alternative routes. I spent two hours on the IRCTC website and even after that I hadn't booked any tickets. I felt frustrated beyond measure. Then I started thinking about all the faults of the system and boy did I get a long list? Have a look.

To book the tickets, you have to enter source station, destination station, journey date, quota etc. Fine. Now when you click on 'Find Trains', it presents you with a long list of trains from the source station to the destination station. There is no information whether the trains have any seats available or not. To find that out you have to click individually on each train, not only that you have to click individually on every class of the train. Every. Single. Class. For. Every. Single. Train.

It presents you with even those trains which have already departed (We can obviously do time travel to the past.)

If you want to go between stations which have no direct trains connecting them, then you are in for a real ordeal. You will get an error that there are no trains between these stations. No alternative routes are shown, nothing. So what to do now? Well, look at India's map, mark the source and destination stations, then make a list of all the 'big' stations between them. Now try looking for trains from source station to one of these stations and then from these stations to your destination. Pro tip: If this doesn't work out, try this - from source to intermediate 1, from there to intermediate 2, from there to your destination. (You obviously have infinite free time. Besides, doing such mundane tasks is sooo satisfying. And the winning feeling you get after finally figuring out the route, there is nothing better than that! That's why these people didn't incorporate this functionality into the system.)

So now you have figured out the route, Great! Let's say your route has two stops. This means you have to book three tickets separately. You cannot book tickets for more than one train at one go, you just can't. This means entering all the details again. This also means that you will be charged service charge three times.

While we are at it let's talk about service charge. What about it? It is kind of a convenience charge. Hey, you are booking tickets from the convenience of your home, you should be charged for that. Right?

Wrong. You are helping to reduce the length of queues at the ticket windows, you are doing the work which is done by clerks there. If anything you should be given discounts for that. I am pretty sure that if there are discounts on e-tickets, the average queue in front of reservation windows would significantly drop in length.

Every day from 23:30 to 0:30 the server is down for maintenance. Seriously, every day? Their server needs maintenance every fucking day? Which technology are they using?

Oh and let's talk about speed, every operation on the site takes a gazillion seconds to complete. You can be on the world's fastest connection but if you have their site open it looks like you are on dial-up.

This was about the IRCTC site, don't even get me started about Compared to that the IRCTC site looks like it is powered by the world's most cutting edge technology. And that is saying something.

This concludes my rant. I am feeling better now. I will feel much better when the state of the system improves.

--Written while sitting along with three more people on a single berth.

Update: Interesting discussion about this on Hacker News -