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.
Under the provision, elderly passengers (above 60 years for men) and women passengers (45 years of age and above) can apply for the quota in IRCTC’s main page while booking.
“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.
The provision failed because passengers could only make use of if they booked the tickets at passenger reservation system (PRS) ticket counters at railways stations.
“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,” clarified an officer.
Under the current facility, however, pregnant women can only apply for the lower berth if they book the tickets at PRS counters.