Story of Sathya

The Curious Case of IRCTC



We all know that we Indians think a lot. During this process, when we try to implement something we often tend to miss something. This ‘something’ is only ‘something’ for us but trust me this ‘something’ may prove to be costly for some group of people.

Today I present some facts about our Indian Railways – IRCTC. What comes in mind when I say ‘Indian Railways(IR)’? Think and start imagining. Of course, I won’t give any prize for thinking. Do not limit your imaginations. I won’t complain if the first thing that comes to your mind is the stinky filthy status of  Mumbai’s Kurla Railway Station. Oh! never mind I am tired of complaining about this particular railway station as officials won’t bother to do anything constructive about it.

Well, forget Kurla. If I could only write about Kurla, then I might rather hurt the sentiments of 10,000 people living in Kurla and things may come out as offense to certain groups. Such is the hatred and disgust that the place has caused in me. It gave me a ‘Pneumonia’ and free uninvited ‘Viral Fever’ during my ‘old’ gold glorious Engineering days. I stopped taking that route but ultimately I had to travel through that route. Why are we even talking about Kurla?

Nevermind. Let’s drift our focus towards the fiend. The monster is responsible for irritating passengers who book tickets online. This monster is wide awake during the morning hours of 8 to 9 am. It is IRCTC – Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation. This is the group of IR which handles Online ticket booking and railway reservation.

So firstly, let me tell you that this post might come out as a ‘vent’ post to many. If you are amongst those ‘many’ then come ahead and give me a ‘hi5’, ‘low5’, and whatnot. During the time when people used to stand in long queues to book railway tickets, we had the privilege of accessing Computer and we had access to the Internet as well. A ‘Pat-on-the-Back’ award goes to my parents for understanding our needs. There are many things which we used the Internet for but one prime job was to book railway tickets.

In 2003, IRCTC was quite flexible and efficient. It would never cease to impress people as only a certain group of them knew about this feature of Indian Railways. Later on, many people came to know about this website. The ultimate outcome was that many people booked tickets online. Now, IRCTC had to fulfill the demands of a larger group of people. The last few years have been disastrous for IRCTC. Not that their user count has declined, its the degradation in their quality of service provided by them and efficiency.

It is a central repository for train ticket bookings and imagines the website failing to deliver at a crucial time. I would like to highlight certain boo-boo which the site has never bothered to correct. 1. I sacrifice my sleep and get up early morning at 7 to book tickets. If not, my parents would flood my phone with numerous phone calls to wake me up just for booking tickets.FYI, I don’t live with my family so the phone call is the only resort.

I wake up and switch on my laptop. With my partially opened eyes failing to open completely, I enter the the URL on the address bar of the browser. I wait for 2 minutes, the page is still in the process of opening. I wait for another 5 minutes, it still is in the process of opening. I helplessly wait for another 5 minutes. This time my eyes gradually close and  I find myself lying on my bed.

After 10 minutes, I get a phone call from my parents. “Did  you book the tickets?”Are you awake?,” Hello. Talk dear,”  My parents would try their best to wake me up. “Omg!!” That’s when I realize that I had to book my tickets. Without any ado, I wake up just to see the β€œPage cannot be displayed”  message. And then the cycle repeats.  

2. At times when I am successful in passing the first login process, I try my luck in booking tickets.

I  enter the destination and the source station and all the desired fields and click on the Find train. It takes 5 minutes to find the trains. It takes another 5 minutes to check the seat availability and another 5 minutes to book tickets. The book ticket screen hangs and that’s the time we should realize that IRCTC is going to fool us yet again. We get a message ‘Session Expired. Login again’. I suggest you not to panic during such times. It just happens. I am a regular user of IRCTC, so I pass a stupid smile and get back to sleep and try tatkal.

Story of Sathya

3. If you are lucky enough to book the tickets, try the payment portal which is pathetic. I select the bank and fill in my account details and click on the ‘pay now’ button. The very next second I get a text message on my phone that ‘XXX amount has been deducted from your XXXXX account on your XXXXXX bank’. That’s infuriating especially when you get another  IRCTC message ‘Server busy. Try after some time’.

It angers me for obvious reasons but nothing we could do. It finally makes us feel that we are stupid for wasting our precious time in front of our PC/Laptop. If you book a train ticket surpassing all these barriers then consider yourself lucky. One day I got vexed to such an extent that  I called up the IRCTC customer care. A woman representative attended my call. My sudden outburst actually scared her. My voice was audibly irritated and I asked her for the IRCTC escalation matrix to which she was scared.

She apologized for the inconvenience caused and assured me that the deducted amount would be refunded in 5 days. I got angry again and the outcome was that she cut the phone. It irks me at times and trusts me that not a great start to our day. I would sue the developers of this website and urge them to do some load and unit testing before they deliver their product. I understand that many people access IRCTC for booking tickets but there should be some alternative.

Every day the website crashes between 8-9 leaving the lucky ones with a ticket and the unlucky ones refreshing their web page. Crazy!!. During  Union Budget, the railway minister talks about slashing ticket prices, providing more facilities to passengers. All that I would like to say is ‘Pehle Apni Website to theek karwao yar’. Janhit mei Zaari!!.. Jai IRCTC. πŸ˜› πŸ˜› 

The Solitary Writer
Step right up, it's Ste's show! Join me on my writing journey where I dish out witty tales, thought-provoking poems, and quirky musings on life. I'm a social justice warrior who sneaks in some humor wherever I can. Book, movie, and cultural critiques included. Buckle up, it's gonna be a wild ride!