CHENNAI: In a major relief to elderly passengers and women who travel alone, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) had created a separate quota in online ticket booking for lower berths.The change came into effect from January 15 in on line ticket booking with the Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS), an Information Technology support wing of IRCTC, incorporating lower berth quota in e-ticket booking.
While booking e-tickets through IRCTC website, elderly passengers (above 60 years for men) and women passengers 45 years of age and above, have to choose the lower berths option in the main page. “Lower berths earmarked under senior citizen and women’s quota in the respective classes by default will get allotted to them. If the berths are already booked, they will be given berths under general quota,” said official sources.
In April 2016, to reduce the ordeal of elderly people climbing upper berths, railways earmarked four lower berths per coach in Sleeper class and two lower berth per coach in Air Conditioned three-tier (3AC) and Air Conditioned two-tier (2AC) classes for senior citizens, women passengers who were 45 years old and pregnant women when travelling alone.In case of Rajdhani, Duronto and fully Air Conditioned Express trains, four lower berths were earmarked per coach in third AC class.
However, passengers were allowed to avail themselves of the lower berths only if they chose to book the tickets at Passenger reservation system (PRS) ticketing counters. And, due to some technical glitches such a facility was not available in e-ticket booking for more than a year.
“The quota will be applicable only when an elderly person travels alone or two passengers travel on a single ticket. After choosing the lower berth quota, if tickets are booked for three passenger berths on a single ticket, then berths will be allotted only under the general quota,” explained an officer. The official sources added that lower berths to pregnant women will be allotted only if the tickets are booked at PRS counters.
Welcoming the railway’s decision, T Mohammed Mubeen, former member of Divisional Rail Users Consultative Committee (DRUCC), Chennai, said: “If a person avails senior citizen concession, he or she should get the lower berth by default. The current upgradation, though a small step will benefit the passengers largely,” he said.