Today I was anxiously logged into http://irctc.co.in/ an Indian Railways online reservation web site to book rail tickets from Secunderabad to Pune on 2nd of March 2008 under Tatkal scheme before the quota gets over. I was lucky enough to have a few bearth's in 2 tier AC available in Konark express (the other most convenient train Mumbai express is always full even under Tatkal quota). For this I have to book a ticket from Bhubaneswar from the train originating station until its destination boarding at Secunderabad. (If I forget to mention this after one station from Bhubaneswar my ticket gets cancelled). So far so good. I paid the money using my creadit card and yes now I can see the bearths are alloted. I my eyes ran through the ticket to see if evrything is ok. I missed out something...yes, though the train starts from Bhubaneswar on 1st March it reaches Secunderabad on the next day i.e. 2nd March my boarding point. Errr....I made a mistake now my date of journey sorry boarding at Secunderabad is on 3rd March. That changed my entire schedule.. So I decided to cancel the ticket. I was told by the customer service of the Indian railways on cancellation the refund would be only 25% if it is made with in 24 hours from the date of trains departure. Just 25%?!!!!! I booked it 5 days in advance. Since I didn't have much option I had to cancel the ticket after cancellation the mentioned for refund is less than 25%. Thats cheating.....!
Today Incidently it is railways Budget day presented by great Mr. Lalu Prasad Yadav who turn around Indian railways from a losemaking unit to a profitable organisation. And even claimed that it is better than fortune 500 companies. One thing I must say this guy has got a lot of political and crimainal brain other wise no one else can achieve this. How he achieved it now everyone can guess.
Initially when tatkal quota was introduced only a few bearths are available under it and you have to book 24 hours before the departure and now you can book 5 days in advance and many more bearths available. That means less bearths for those who want to book the tickets in general quota. Passenger who book ticket under tatkal scheme has to book for enitre journey of the train. If he cancells it only 25% is refunded or even less. Now imagine how much money he is making out of it.
Now lets see the general quota tickets. If you have to book a round trip ticket than you would pay a little extra. How?! lets see. If you have to book a ticket from Secunderabad to Pune it would cost you some Rs X/- and if you buy it from Pune then it would cost you some Rs X+Y/- the difference could be Rs 10 per bearth in for sleeper class and for upper classes its even more. Now how many people in a year travel between Pune and Secunderabad and back. Now calculate how much money railways would have made that way.
Its Indian Railways way of unethical business.....ofcourse you can never expect any better from Lalu Prasad Yadav under whose stewardship the Indian railways is flourishing. One hand he says reducing the fare on the other he wouldn't even mention these things upfront. He even gives guest lectures to Harvard Management graduates on Railways case study. God only knows what lecture he gives to them.