Gone are the days when confirming a berth through IRCTC website was considered a hassle. Indian Railways have introduced a new predictive service for wait-listed tickets, which will tell passengers their chances of getting one.
The new, refurbished Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) website will let the passengers know the probability of confirmation of wait-listed tickets, based on a new algorithm developed by the Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS).
“According to the new feature of wait-list prediction, one can predict the chances of a wait-listed or an RAC ticket getting confirmed on the basis of booking trends. “We will mine our own data of passenger operations and booking patterns for the first time,” a senior official in the Railway Ministry said.
The idea, the officials said, came from Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, who had given a one-year deadline last year to complete the process of inducting the predictive service on the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) website.
The algorithm will take into account last 13 years’ data to arrive at a “robust, workable model”, the officials said.
One of the major challenges the developers faced during the creation of the algorithm was the peak seasons as booking patterns of trains change every year, based on the Hindu festival calendar. For instance, Diwali, Dussehra, Durga Puja and Chhath holiday periods, which see a deluge of passenger traffic, take place on different days every year.
While predictions have been used by private players, the officials said that the Indian Railways system would be more reliable as it would have the advantage of the database of the national transporter.
A disclaimer also says the probability shown may differ from the actual possibility of a ticket getting confirmed since it’s based on various factors.
A user need not even log into the new website to enquire or search for trains and check on availability of seats, while the older version only allowed access to the registered users.
“While booking tickets, separate cards for each passenger have been provided to fill in their details. Pre-filled particulars will ensure a quick booking experience. The user can manage the payment options by marking six banks as preferred banks under the ‘My Profile’ section,” an official said.
The users can also perform multiple activities like cancellation, printing, request for an SMS, selection of an alternative train by exercising the “Vikalp” option and changing the boarding point, if required.
Nearly 13 lakh tickets are booked on the IRCTC website every day against a reserved accommodation of 10.5 lakh berths, the officials said.
(with agency inputs)