Yes, that is IRCTC for u. Over the past few months I have been trying to book a lot of train tickets online. It mostly involves travel between Mumbai n Gujarat. Most often than not, it is impossible to tickets for the journey from Mumbai. Sometimes, the other route too. The waitlisted numbers go into hundreds. So I gotta rely on ‘tatkal’ to book tickets. That is one experience worth writing a book on. Ya, this post is full of complaints but I gotta do it, when we talk about the ‘largest service sector in the World operating in the World’s IT-hub’.
First, one has to login a few minutes before 8 am and just keep wandering around the website until 8. Why? For logging into the site even at 7.59, one must be damn lucky bcos it takes forever. If u r trying for a busy train or during vacation time, everything w'd be pretty much over by the time u login. Why keep wandering there after logging in well before 8? Bcos if u r idle for like 2 mins, the rude system w'd throw u out with a lovely message 'Session expire'. Duh!
Just like any pc/video game, there are several levels u can get stuck into. The most notorious of all is when u click on a particular class of travel. To kill boredom, u r recommended counting how many dozens of times the waiting cycle rotates before it shows u the availability. If u think u can browse any other website in the meanwhile, beware of the bandwidth share it w'd take, thus further increasing ur chance of getting another cooling message 'Service Unavailable'. Ya rite.. Service !!
U r also advised to open a couple more of different browsers and access the IRCTC site at the same time. I know I talked any bandwidth stealing n all just a while ago but more browser windows is a must back-up plan when one or more of the sessions fail. The different levels of online booking r like the diff dream levels talked in 'Inception'. Deeper u go, more w'd be the danger u have to beware of. If not u will be forever trapped in the limbo n it will be impossible to come out unscathed.
So often it happens that u w'd be so near yet so far. Also keep multiple payment options like netbanking, credit card n debit card available bcos there is no guarantee that an option available on a given day will be available any other day. The most frustrating is when u go from ‘10 available seats’ to ‘WL 10’ by the time u enter the passenger details.
Also, the site doesn’t allow any right clicking to copy any long number/name. Some cynic must have designed/authorized a very autocratic website saying ‘why s’d someone right-click? Let them type down everything!”.
Also, some train timings r so odd that it's not uncommon to se some unassuming passengers get stranded. I witnessed once when I was travelling from Mumbai to Gujarat on Vadodara exp. It leaves Mumbai CST at 11.40 pm and reaches borivali, a suburb of Mumbai in the north at 12.04 am, picks up passengers from north Mumbai n leaves at 12.07 am. So when I got into Vadodara exp from borivali, someone was already getting ready to sleep in my berth, which is not an unusual sight. When I told him that its my berth, he said it is his. Initially I thot I had goofed up the booking somehow. So much for my self-confidence! When I checked the date n time, it was indeed a correct ticket. I asked him to show his and his ticket showed the previous day as sate of boarding. Indeed the previous day had ended just 10 mins ago and that is the day he wanted to leave Mumbai. But he or his agent chose a wrong time at the cusp of the day. If the railways had advanced the departure by just 8 mins, it w'd have left Borivali too on the same day and such a confusion like above c'd have been averted.
An exhausting experience each time u plan ur travel via IRCTC. Any talk of India and shining is truly valid only when we get to book tickets in Indian railways within a reasonable time w'out seeing the WLxx, atleast for 3rd a/c and above.