CHENNAI: Sleeper class railway tickets were sold out within a few minutes for all congested routes, including Chennai - Madurai, Chennai - Tirunelveli, Chennai - Coimbatore and Chennai- Thanjavur when advance reservation for travel on January 11 for Pongal next year began on Thursday. As soon as booking commenced at 8 am, tickets were sold out in less than five minutes and many passengers were able to get only wait-listed tickets.
The Railways provides an advance reservation period of 120 days. The reservation for travel on January 12 will open on Friday (September 14), while for January 13, Bogi festival date, passengers can reserve tickets from Saturday (September 15).
Interestingly, unlike previous years, passengers no longer make a long queue in front of reservation counters for ticket bookings. Reservation for train tickets commences at 8 am through internet and reservation counters.
“The sleeper class waiting list for January 12 and 13 this year exceeded 800 in many trains including Pandiyan, Nellai and Kanniyakumari expresses. Since a large section of passengers migrated for online booking, the crowd at ticket counters, has come down by half. Passengers can use the mobile app for booking,” said a railway official.
Besides, provisioning for ticket booking, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has upgraded its website to forecast confirmation probability to passengers holding wait-listed and RAC tickets.
“While we could not get chances of getting confirmation while booking tickets at counters, the probability option has helped to book tickets in alternative trains thereby giving us more options,” said K Rajendran of Tambaram.
A senior railway official said depending on the demand, railways would operate special fare and Suvidha trains for Pongal festival.