September 04, 2008

Indian Railways and IRCTC sucks

I heard quite a lot about Indian Railways reforms, how they became more customer centric and blah blah, but unfortunately I had a horrible experience yesterday.

We booked couple of tickets to Bhubaneshwar(BBSNR) in Faluknuma express from secunderabd thru IRCTC and return tickets in the same train from a railway reservation counter. We boarded the train in Secunderabad and came to know that the train was diverted in other route and wont go to Bhubneshwar.The train was diverted in some other route as the track in orissa was damaged 1.5 months ago, but IRCTC and Railways are still selling the tickets in old route. Countless others have experienced the same problem from last 1.5 months, but authorities are lethargic neither they made any attempts to inform passengers about the change in route nor made any alternative arrangements

The whole episode, have some comical errors -

IRCTC issued a ticket from Sec'bad to Bhubaneshwar, when the train is not going in the route from 1.5 months. I can understand acts of god and the IRCTC did not make changes for a week or so, but for god sake 1.5 months is damn long time, why cant they update it??or at least when they know the train is not running in that route, shoot a mail to all users who bought tickets in the train. Do they have any CRM system in place?? Its not just you refund my fair within 90 days, who will pay for the damages??

Ok, Understood IRCTC dont have info on trains diverted in some other routes, but how the hell a Railway reservation counter issue a ticket on a train which is not running from sec'bad to BBSNR. At least they should have informed the train is subject to availability and may run in some other route.

And more idiotically,Our names and berth numbers are printed and pasted in respective boggies, with seat numbers

And Our PNR status still shows our tickets are confirmed both up and down, even though the train is not running between the 2 stations

We got a gem of advice from railway authorities- Cancel the e-ticket, you will get 100% refund and buy a ticket in Vishaka Express. It was supposed to leave in 1 hr, so we need to buy a general ticket and travel 20 hrs in it, for your mistake

We called Railway Call Center to find out whether the train is coming via Bhubneshwar to Secunderabd or going in a route of there choice but the jokers dont have information on the status. The call center guys suggested to call secunderabad railway station to find out the info, but he dont have number of sec'bad station, I am not asking you phone number of a remote railway station, If a Call center dont have phone number of a zonal head quarters , who will have it?? south central railways website is down, the contact us link in official website of Ministry of Railways takes you to a park domain full of advertisements!! (go to site map n then click contact us, its not working in home page)

Railway officials came up with other innovative idea recently - add one more berth in side seats and squeeze more money. The mere sight of a side berth make me fear of a torturous journey.How the hell can 9 passengers sit in a row meant for 8? where will the extra passenger put his luggage? How can poor guys in side berths sleep in such a little place.

A railway official supported this decision saying “By adding so many passengers, the railways is doing a service. And I am sure that the inconvenience of sharing a seat with an extra passenger is better than being denied a ticket,” . Crap first you are not doing a free service. Second this is not the way to meet extra demand. Because of your inefficiencies you cant make people suffer, especially when common man dont have other choice of transport

And Dear Lalu, I know you are too busy with your guest lectures at IIM's, but don't take customers for granted. It may not reflect in your railway financial statements, but will for sure reflect in general elections.

Update: Common sense prevails, Indian Railway board decided to remove the side middle berth recently.


shashwith said...

Truly, this is one of the best posts i've read so far.Quite eye opening, considering the delinquent nature of the IRCTC. True, it's common man's means of transport and when you see how derelict the IRCTC is towards their customers, there is only profanity that one can think of to give them. I think they have taken customers for granted...This blog should be read by many people as possible...let people raise a voice and stop wrong things from happening.It's high time Lalu stops warming the seat..and start working! I sympathise with the consequences you had to face...infact many other passengers who had to suffer the brunt of IRCTC.Lalu, Thumbs down to you!

Ravi said...

Yep dude... One of my experiences:
Me and My friend booked a TATKAL ticket under waitlist from Pune to Anantapur. The ticket didn't get final confirmation on chart and so we dared to travel on foot board (with a hope of bribing TC and getting at least one berth, which we usually do). We have a hefty luggage and somehow managed some space to adjust ourselves. TC came and checked our tickets. He took out a book and started writing a penalty fine on us under 'NO ticket travel'... we both stunned and re-showed the ticket for his eyes. He told a new rule to us which we are not at all aware of – ‘Tatkal waitlisted tickets are equal to No ticket travel’. We murmured ‘what the ****’ and fought with him… We both traveled several times when our tickets are in waitlist under general sleeper category (non-tatkal). We took that logic and fought with him… He agreed that rule/logic existed and said the same logic is not valid for Tatkal which is more expensive than general sleeper ticket. We really unaware of that idiotic/illogical/stupid rule… Its generally everyone take it for granted that if valids at general sleeper then also valids for Tatkal… I felt ridiculous when one waitlisted guy at general category traveling aaram seh but not we tatkal waitlisted guys. What a rule Mr. Lalu team…

Somehow, the money spent on tatkal waitlist got reimbursed after 2 weeks of time but think of the illogical/senseless rules the Railways’ team is framing and also taking steps to aware the rule. I recently came to know that even general-waitlist through e-tickets also invalid to travel as one more friend got victimized recently with that rule. Mr. Lalu’s team should at least take some measures to educate customers on their ridiculous rules… The biggest beneficiaries from their rules are TCs who collect penalties as much as they wish from ignorant customers and push them to their own pockets.

Kushagra said...

Hahahahahah lol

hehehehe lol

I know what is you are going through :)

Btw, you still owe me a beer

Cuckoo said...

I can only empathize with you. :-)

I have linked you to BB. Here is the link,


praneeth said...

Thx for posting in BB, but the link is not working :(

Narayanan Hariharan said...

things cant get worse than this! stumbled so that others get to know too!

Cuckoo said...


I am sorry, it is fixed now. But I came to know of the problem from one of the members of BB.

Anyhow, it is always a good idea to inform us either at BB or at the blog of the person who has linked you.

Take care.

Pradeep Nair said...

I am not as much a train traveller as you seem to be. But I have on many occasions booked my tickets via IRCTC.

It's quite callous on the part of the railways not to look into the points you mention. It actually spoils the excellent image IRCTC has built for itself.

The fact that the reservation of such a large network like the railways has been computerised itself is a big achievement.

I wish some official looks into the issue. Because one single guy is enough to spoil the good image.

praneeth said...

@ Pradeep Nair,

I too agree, overall things are improving, but still needs to go a long way. The problem i guess is no one takes responsibility, especially our politicans

Anchal said...

i had the same experience with the new Gareen Rath express.. no room at all to keep the luggage

Anonymous said...

This irctc site blocks you out at 8 AM every single day. Never fails to kick me out at 8 AM. I think there is some kind of backdoor deal between agents and irctc. If any website gets busy, as this one would at 8, it won't let you in, but it won't kick you out once you are already logged in. That's what has been happening to me for last 3 days. Other than that the web site is useful and is improving. I have been using this website for past 3 years now. But this part is really annoying. Someone needs to do something about it. Mamtajee...