Unfortunately, much to the frustration of both Indians and foreign tourists, it's become harder and harder (read: almost impossible) to make reservations for travel on Indian Railways. Earlier this year the time frame for the booking of Tatkal tickets (last minute tickets) was reduced from 48 to 24 hours before departure and the opening time for Tatkal ticket bookings moved from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. (as well as agents being blocked from booking such tickets until noon).
A new verification procedure was also added to the online reservation system, requiring all accounts to be confirmed with a unique Indian mobile phone number. In addition, international credit cards (apart from American Express) are no longer accepted. This has resulted in me, like many others, giving up on using the system.
This was recently confirmed by the Minister for Railways, who has admitted that various complaints have been received about the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd (IRCTC) website. Apparently, these complaints have numbered 20-25 a day, during the peak booking period in 2011-12. (No doubt, there are plenty more people who have wanted to complain but couldn't be bothered).
Common problems include instances of the IRCTC website being congested and inaccessible during morning hours, and tickets not being booked despite the transaction being charged to the customer's credit card multiple times.
Of course, the question still remains -- what is going to be done about it?
How are you dealing with the issues?
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