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The tatkal scheme - getting tickets at short notice

Note: Certain changes are being introduced to the tatkal scheme.  This article will be updated in a few days to reflect them.

The tatkal (meaning "urgent") scheme is one of the most debated schemes of the Indian Railways.  Introduced to allow last-minute travellers to get confirmed reservations on short notice on payment of a small surcharge, it was modified several times before finally being restored to its initial design.  There are still many complaints that touts corner most tatkal tickets and that genuine passengers find it hard to get tickets under the scheme.

This scheme is a godsend for passengers who were not able to plan and reserve their tickets well in advance.

The main features of the tatkal scheme in its present avatar are:

  • Bookings open at 10 am the day before the train leaves its origin station.  If the train leaves its origin the day before it reaches your destination, you can book two days in advance,
  • Tatkal tickets can be booked online as well as at a counter,
  • There is a surcharge for booking tickets under the tatkal scheme.  For the precise amounts, click here
  • Apart from First AC Sleeper and First Class Non-AC, all classes have a few seats/berths set aside under the tatkal scheme,
  • The number of berths kept aside under this scheme can range from just 2-4 berths to as many as 374 berths,
  • Only four passengers can be booked on a ticket under this scheme,
  • The ID proof of at least one passenger needs to mentioned while booking; this ID should be carried on the train.

There is one small difference between booking a normal ticket and a tatkal ticket.  If you want to book a tatkal ticket on IRCTC, you need to follow the normal procedure for booking a ticket on the website but select "tatkal" as the quota while booking.  You will also need to mention the number of the ID proof you will carry on the train. Acceptable ID proofs include the following:

  • Passports
  • Driving Licenses
  • PAN Cards
  • Voter ID Cards
  • Aadhar Cards
  • Student ID Cards
  • Photo ID Cards issued by the Central/State Government
  • Photo ID Cards issued by PSUs
  • Credit Cards with photographs
  • Nationalised Bank Passbooks with photographs

The IRCTC website usually crashes at 10 am when tatkal bookings open due to the millions of people trying to log on to the website at the same time.  Other booking websites like Cleartrip are not permitted to book tickets between 8 am and noon, by which time most - if not all - tatkal tickets would have probably been sold.

If you want to book a tatkal ticket at a counter, you need to go early!  Follow the usual process for booking a ticket at a counter, with two small changes:

  • Write "tatkal" at the top of your reservation form
  • Carry a self-attested photocopy of the ID card you will carry on the train (your reservation will be rejected without this)

Good luck with your tatkal endeavours!

Last updated on 4 October 2014.