The Tatkal emergency reservation scheme of Indian Railways was introduced to facilitate latecomers to avail of train berths just few days before the actual date of journey on being charged nominal extra costs.
Earlier, Indian Railways kept reserved one whole bogey for Tatkal passengers; but now the accommodation system has been modified to allow few Tatkal passengers in each compartment.
However, like most public amenities being subjected to malpractice in India, even Tatkal booking scheme was not spared from black marketing and ticket hoarding by travel agents. Thus, the true purpose of the Tatkal booking scheme was defeated as the common man could not avail of emergency tickets easily.
In order to deal with this menace, Indian Railways banned travel agents from Tatkal booking through e-ticketing route on all days between 8 am to 9 am, to help reduce traffic on the site during peak opening hours, in mid-2010.
However, showing further seriousness in ensuring common man’s ability to access Tatkal reservation scheme without any manipulation, Railways have decided to reduce the advance reservation period for Tatkal tickets from 2 days to 1 day to facilitate emergency travel.
Furthermore, the first hour restriction (8 am to 9 am) for agent bookings will now be extended to two hours (until 10 am) for on-counter as well as internet bookings, in order to deal with increasing number of complaints against web-based agents that still manage to corner substantial Tatkal tickets, thus profiteering from the system loopholes.
In order to toughen up the rules further, only four passengers will now be allowed to travel per PNR for Tatkal tickets in order to allay misuse of reservation facility. The prevailing system allows a maximum of six in case of normal bookings.
The new system, which is expected to be implemented in a week’s time, will NOT allow any refund on confirmed Tatkal tickets except when trains are cancelled or running late. Currently, a flat refund of 25% of total fare charged on the ticket, excluding Tatkal charges is granted on cancellation of Tatkal ticket.
Moreover, producing identity proof will now be made mandatory while booking Tatkal tickets under the new guidelines. So, these are some welcome changes, to say the least!