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Old 4th August 2022, 20:14   #1
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Default At a Railway Reservation Center after 18 years | My experiences

Introduction

Brick and mortar set ups rarely need to be visited these days, what with everything going on-line. I've also fallen in line, but sometimes circumstances makes one follow the path less travelled.

This is an account of my surprise visit and experience at an unfrequented place today - an Indian Railways Reservation Center, after close to eighteen years. I am sure folks reading this will be able to revel in this experience and relive the good ol' times!

At a Railway Reservation Center after 18 years | My experiences-reservationcenter.jpg

Last edited by vigsom : 4th August 2022 at 21:09.
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Old 4th August 2022, 20:30   #2
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Default re: At a Railway Reservation Center after 18 years | My experiences

Planning a trip to Gadag

02-Aug-2022

I am scheduled to make a trip to Gadag in Karnataka sometime this month, and was looking for a suitable mode of transport from Bengaluru to Gadag. My preference was a train, and sure enough, I found a few of them. Shortlisted 16592 Hampi Express from Bengaluru to Gadag since it was a convenient evening departure with a morning arrival; found that the waitlist from KSR Bengaluru was RLWL which meant a remote location and thus a low chance of the ticket getting confirmed. Tracked the train back, and it was showing accommodation available in AC 2 Tier from Kengeri, just one station ahead. I went ahead, casually logged in to IRCTC, keyed in all details, paid the money, and this is what I encountered. This was at approx. 2250hrs on August 2nd.

Error Code
At a Railway Reservation Center after 18 years | My experiences-irctc_error2.jpg

I said, "Okay, this must be one of those instances when the payment gateway - IRCTC link decided to take a break!" Went ahead and tried again - same result. I decided to stop, and try again the next day.

03-Aug-2022

1. Tried the same route, with the same card, but the end result was the same.
2. Thinking that this might have been an issue with my bank's card, I tried using another ID and another card - same result.
3. Another gateway - another card - same result.
4. Tried again after three hours with my ID and my card - same result.

Error Again
At a Railway Reservation Center after 18 years | My experiences-irctc_error1.jpg

Meanwhile, I booked another ticket on another train and it went through without fuss. By now, after a total of six tries, almost INR6600 had been debited with no ticket in hand. Escalated the issue to IRCTC with specific information, including the error code, and got an expected vague reply that the tickets were not booked due to delay in remittance of the money by the payment gateway.

The vague or rather standard reply
At a Railway Reservation Center after 18 years | My experiences-irctc_reply.jpg

Last edited by vigsom : 4th August 2022 at 21:35.
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Old 4th August 2022, 20:43   #3
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Default re: At a Railway Reservation Center after 18 years | My experiences

Planning a trip to Gadag (Contd.)

04-Aug-2022

Since I had never faced an issue of so many false starts, I had started imagining a whole lot of things and had actually even gotten scared to login to IRCTC :

1. Is there an issue with my account?
2. Is there an issue with my card?
3. Has my IRCTC account gotten into some roadblock?

I decided to let the debited money first come back, but meanwhile, had to do something to get myself a ticket via the least risk route, else available berths would all be gone on other trains.

How did I decide on the Reservation Center option?

While returning from work, I thought that the best way to eliminate my thoughts shared above was to get to a Railway Reservation Center and then see what was going on. Checked that I had enough moolah in my purse, and after getting off the car, made a dash to the Reservation Center.

Last edited by vigsom : 4th August 2022 at 21:37.
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Old 4th August 2022, 21:00   #4
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Default re: At a Railway Reservation Center after 18 years | My experiences

Entering the Reservation "Lounge" after eighteen years

What a feeling it was - I have spent upto three and a half hours in every single visit to reservation centers in the 80s, 90s and even early 2000s until I registered on IRCTC. The scene used to be particularly bad in Western and Northern India. Those days, we'd find touts getting into the queues out of turn, reservation clerks booking via forms handed to them in advance, and with "advance", fights among people in the queue, systems hanging, and so on. It used to be like a mela those days. Getting a confirmed ticket in hand and exiting the Center was equivalent to winning an Olympic Gold!

My experience at the Reservation Center this evening

There was no crowd - as we can see in the pic below, no more than two people at any counter. I went in, asked for a form, and found that it had barely changed. Filled it out like memory recall from the 2000s, handed it in at one of the counters, told the Reservation Officer there that I was coming to a Center after 18 years, and he was all smiles.

He keyed in all details into the system at lightning speed, with paan in his mouth, and I was waiting with bated breath, hoping that the reservation wouldn't go through -and Lo and Behold, it didn't go through! He tried again, but the end result was the same. He then called out to the Chief Reservation Supervisor apprising him of this issue, by when I had also told him that I'd come visiting because of those six failed attempts. Realising that this was some issue with the particular train/ station, I decided to try another train which I had already kept on shortlist, and I managed the last confirmed berth on that option.

Ticket in hand, no service charges, I left the place relieved. The surprise here was that I got a text message like how one would get on booking via IRCTC. This wasn't there in the 2000s.

The Air-conditioned Reservation Lounge - saw folks seated there only to cool off
At a Railway Reservation Center after 18 years | My experiences-reservationcenter.jpg

Reservation Form - just a few changes
At a Railway Reservation Center after 18 years | My experiences-resvform.jpg

Ticket in hand
At a Railway Reservation Center after 18 years | My experiences-papertkt.jpg

Last edited by vigsom : 4th August 2022 at 21:40.
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Old 4th August 2022, 21:05   #5
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Default re: At a Railway Reservation Center after 18 years | My experiences

Couldn't I have gone back home and booked via IRCTC on another train?

Absolutely yes, but a bird in hand is worth two in the bush. Having seen a string of failures in two days, I decided to end the saga here. Who knows - maybe IRCTC would throw up some new issue after I returned. When luck isn't on one's side, it is better to try the least risk option.

Summing it up

Although I was kind of upset with the turn of events the day before yesterday and yesterday, I'm thankful to IRCTC for letting me get back to doing a reservation the old way, and reliving the good ol' times.

Last edited by vigsom : 5th August 2022 at 06:30.
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Old 5th August 2022, 06:38   #6
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Default re: At a Railway Reservation Center after 18 years | My experiences

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 5th August 2022, 07:00   #7
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Default re: At a Railway Reservation Center after 18 years | My experiences

Wow you got your ticket, wishing you a happy journey. I reminded of the days in the 90's where we had to stand in long queues (or pay touts) for a chance of a hometown bound ticket during festive season.

Just, curious what was the time that you had tried booking tickets when you faced the payment gateway failures. I have someomes noticed financial applications failing in the off peak hours, usually between midnight and early morning, for maintenance.
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Old 5th August 2022, 07:30   #8
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Default re: At a Railway Reservation Center after 18 years | My experiences

Good to relive the memories, thanks for sharing.

If something like this happens, try another portal like Amazon tickets, which will only ask you the irctc login ID, but uses a different payment gateway.
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Old 5th August 2022, 08:31   #9
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Default re: At a Railway Reservation Center after 18 years | My experiences

Good to read about your experiences at the PRS @Vigsom. This is indeed a far cry from the chaotic 90s when folks used to queue up the night before, at the PRS, on the opening day of the 60 day Advance reservation period, to get that coveted confirmed ticket.
And in the early days of the PRS, I recollect having to stand in different lines or queues, to book different legs of a Bangalore to Chittaranjan journey. Madras PRS had its separate counter, Calcutta PRS separate counter and so were Delhi and Bombay.

Very little has changes in terms of the Reservation form and the actual reservation ticket. The only thing that has drastically changed is the relatively shorter queues at the PRS. With the advent of low cost airlines and good quality roads and improved road transport, these queues may even get shorter.

Thanks for sharing!
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Old 5th August 2022, 09:00   #10
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Default Re: At a Railway Reservation Center after 18 years | My experiences

Thanks for the refreshing memories. In 2004 when I shifted to Vadodara, used to visit reservation counter above main building, which was always crowded with long queues at that time, so need to be prepared to stay up to an hour (sometimes even more). Later someone suggested another counter at other side of station (Alkapuri). This building is demolished now to make way for newer building. This section had token system so no need to stay in queue which was huge relief.

Another noteworthy place I remember is huge booking office at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus where at one floor they give tokens and first floor large number of booking windows. Very efficient way to handle huge load.
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Old 5th August 2022, 09:14   #11
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Default Re: At a Railway Reservation Center after 18 years | My experiences

Oh, the reservation counters do exist after all. I thought they would have got shut ages back.

You say ‘good ol days’. I don’t have any good memory of getting tickets from a reservation centre. It’s like getting pushed and waiting for ever to fail and come back the next day and trying finding a queue with short queues, filling multiple forms for same routes in different trains etc. Most often than not, it’s very rare to get a ticket in the first attempt. I even remember that Chennai Central had a separate queue just to pick forms. You’re sweating profusely even before you pick a form.

I have memories of reserved card tickets as well, way before the computerised reservation process came into play. I remember our relatives sending us those ‘Inland’ letters asking us to book return tickets for them. One can’t book a return ticket from origin those days.

IRCTC is so much easier, but yes, just when you think you e finished the reservation is when it starts to act cranky.
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Old 5th August 2022, 09:21   #12
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Default Re: At a Railway Reservation Center after 18 years | My experiences

Quote:
Originally Posted by vigsom View Post
There was no crowd - as we can see in the pic below, no more than two people at any counter.
Wow! I've been a few times circa 2007-8 (mostly to the Mambalam reservation counter), where there was long lines making you feel like you are at Tirumala waiting to get blessings from Perumal

The long lines disappeared after IRCTC got streamlined. I've had payment gateway problems only with Axis PG, otherwise has been smooth sailing.

Even my father who was in his 70s never visited since 2010. We've been booking him online (when he was travelling) all the time.

One big use case to use the reservation counter is when you have multiple people travelling and are looking to book in the same coupe. During our 2AC travel last December, we got a side lower-side upper and lower-upper rather than 2 lower-upper pairs in the same coupe.

Last edited by narayans80 : 5th August 2022 at 09:23.
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Old 6th August 2022, 09:14   #13
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Default Re: At a Railway Reservation Center after 18 years | My experiences

Using Amazon for train ticket bookings has made me travel more on trains now that I get to avoid IRCTC apart from password step.

Also peace of mind with respect to refunds. Have often spent 10k+ on failed bookings and everything was smoothly handled with refunds to Amazon pay balance. Another trick is to always use a credit card so that your capital is not stuck waiting for the merchant to refund.
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Old 6th August 2022, 10:09   #14
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Default Re: At a Railway Reservation Center after 18 years | My experiences

Nice post. Our fond memories include travelling from Bombay to Madras (Ill use the old names) for Diwali vacations. As soon as the school started, we would know the dates for the Diwali Vacation. 90 days prior to the travel date, my dad would go to Dadar/VT station counter to book our tickets. There was no return ticket concept so we would ask our relatives at Madras to book our return from Madras to Bombay when that 90 days window opened and send the payment by Money Order.

Later after the reservation was unified, you could book from any place to any place from any place. So we would go to Borivali counter early in the morning and book our onward ticket 90 days before and the return when the booking window opened.
This progressed to agents, then IRCTC, then travel by flight. How much technology has progressed. I cant recall the last time I travelled in a train. Would be easily 10 years or more.
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Old 6th August 2022, 12:03   #15
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Default Re: At a Railway Reservation Center after 18 years | My experiences

@vigsom - Incidentally, I read your post after having booked a train ticket this morning on IRCTC when the tatkal booking opened at 1000 hrs. Over 70 3AC tickets and 12 2AC tickets evaporated in less than 7 minutes from opening.

There was this unexplained urge and longing to travel by train that led me to book a train ticket from Bangalore to Sevgaram, my hometown. Looking forward to the journey tomorrow.

A train I really wish to travel on sometime is Kanyakumari Dibrugarh Vivek Express.

Watching this big, beautiful country roll past a train's window is pure delight! Vivek Express would give over 4200 KM this delight.

Happy journey!
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