6 Secrets of Booking Train Tickets on IRCTC

Indian Railways is the largest rail network in Asia and the world’s second largest network operated under a single management (as of 2015). Moving 23 million passengers daily is a task which the system undoubtedly is carrying out seamlessly. Still, a network this big fails to gratify all its travellers. For, have you not been through the chart-prepared-ticket-not-confirm and let’s-try-our-minuscule-luck-at-Tatkal-ticket phases. Not anymore. Here are a few tips and tricks that will increase your chances of getting a confirmed ticket on IRCTC (the e-ticketing platform for Indian Railways).

Want a confirmed TATKAL ticket?

That moment of getting a confirmed Tatkal ticket on IRCTC is a prized possession. How about having many such moments? During the Tatkal booking period, slow typists are at a disadvantage and since every second matters, it’s not a bad idea to get help from your own computer. There are a couple of web tools and a feature on IRCTC itself which help you quickly fill out the train, passenger and payment details on IRCTC which saves a lot of time, effectively increasing your chances of getting a confirmed Tatkal ticket.

  • IRCTC Reservation Helper – This is a Chrome extension wherein you are required to fill your travel details (train no., date, passenger details, payment details, etc.) before the Tatkal booking starts. When the bookings do begin, with the click of a button the extension runs a program which automatically fills the required details for you and makes the ticketing process hassle free. It even fills the bank account details once you reach the payment gateway. You can virtually get a booked ticket within 10 seconds. When filling the payment details in the extension, I would recommend sharing only the card number/user ID and not the pin/password. You may fill this manually after reaching the payment gateway.


  • Magic Autofill for IRCTC – This is another web tool which is independent of the browser. Though less powerful than IRCTC Reservation Helper but it still saves one from filling the passenger details.


  • Select Your Travel List – IRCTC has a tool which helps you fill in the passenger details with a few clicks. You can make a ‘Travel List’ which has all the passenger details before the Tatkal booking begins. On reaching the ‘Passenger Details’ page, click on ‘Select Your Travel List’ to auto-fill the names of the passengers. However this feature, unlike the ones mentioned above, is dependent on the internet speed and might not work fluently with slow net connections.
  • Two rounds of Tatkal bookings – Starting 15 June 2015, Indian Railways has changed the timing for booking non AC class Tatkal tickets. AC class Tatkal ticket bookings start at 10 am as usual whereas the non AC class Tatkal bookings start at 11 am. This gives a second chance to get a confirmed ticket if you are unable to book a ticket in the AC class.


Quota system in trains (Must read)

Apart from having Tatkal, VIP and ladies quota, trains in India also have reserved quota which are dependent on source and destination stations. Although, every train follows a different set of rules under this quota system, but you will be surprised to know how it is easy to get confirmed tickets on many train routes.

I will start by taking an example. Mumbai-New Delhi Rajdhani Express (12951) has approximately 330 seats (3 Tier AC) reserved for passengers boarding at Mumbai Central and only 24 odd seats for the ones boarding at Surat. The train thus favours passengers travelling from Mumbai to New Delhi over those boarding at intermediate stations. An interesting inference is that a wait-list of 100 on Mumbai-Delhi route is more probable of getting confirmed than a wait-list of 10 on Surat-New Delhi route.

Can you book a seat in the Mumbai quota but still board at Surat? The answer is yes. Indian Railways has a scheme just to facilitate this. You can book your ticket from Mumbai to New Delhi and set the ‘Boarding Station’ as Surat. This way you will be considered under the Mumbai quota and still be allowed to board the train at Surat. The only downside is that you will have to pay the fare of Mumbai-New Delhi route.

Some other train routes where this scheme is distinctively advantageous:

Train Name Train No. Route Approx Seat Quota (3 AC) Comments
MALWA EXPRESS 12920 New Delhi – Indore


Karnal is 120 km before New Delhi but Malwa Express has a large quota for Karnal. You can thus book your tickets from Karnal if Delhi-Indore route is waitlisted
Karnal – Indore


ASHRAM EXPRESS 12915 Ajmer – New Delhi


Beawar is one station before Ajmer and you can book your ticket from Beawar and board the train at Ajmer
Beawar – New Delhi


CHENNAI EXP 12164 Chennai – Mumbai


Chennai to Pune is a busy route and usually occupied. You can book the ticket from Chennai to Mumbai which has a larger quota and get down at Pune
Chennai – Pune

JAMMU MAIL 14034 Pathankot – Delhi


Pathankot to Delhi may also be occupied at times. You can book your ticket from Sujanpur which is just one station before Pathankot
Sujanpur – Delhi



VIKALP Scheme – get a seat on a different train running on the same route

Indian Railways has launched an experimental scheme under which wait-listed passengers can get a confirmed seat in an alternative train if they opt for it while booking their tickets online. The scheme is currently applicable on pilot basis on Delhi-Lucknow and Delhi-Jammu sector only. For more details, visit – http://contents.irctc.co.in/en/vikalpTerms.html.


Now that you know the secrets, share these with your friends and family. If you know of more such secrets, then write to us or mention them in the comments below.

The cover pic was clicked by Samson Joseph who writes about his travel experiences here.


10 thoughts on “6 Secrets of Booking Train Tickets on IRCTC

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