The slow Tatkal

Some years ago, Tatkal was introduced for train travellers to book train tickets at short notice. A 5 day period was set. Then it was revised to 3-day period. Now it stands at 1-day. At this rate you’ll need to book ticket on train, then no one will be able to travel.

Today morning, I was trying to book a tatkal ticket and it took me whooping 1 hour. The status before the booking opens at 08:00 was
2 AC : 20
3 AC : 16
Sleeper: 99

My experience were far from exciting and had lot of free time. The only button which would’ve broken record of all keypress I will make in whole day today is “F5“. The time I would be leaving for office, I was totally dressed up and opening the IRCTC website, so that as soon as ticket is done, I leave for office. But alas, IRCTC had something else in store for me.

At excatly 08:00 am, I opened the IRCTC page, it was slow but opened. I logged in and it took longer time yet I was through. I searched the details: SERVICE UNAVAILABLE. Refreshed the page and opened new tab. The homepage opened for login information but the previous tab was loading. Searched the details on new tab, it worked. First tab still loading. Selected the class, it took some time to load; say about opening up Youtube and searching a video and its still loading. I clicked on “Book” and it instantly said Service Unvailable. By this time 1st tab had timed out. Both “F5” and the first showed login page while 2nd took ages to open.

The time was already 08:20 am. Now even on login it was failing. The “F5” key was working at full swing. If it was in Titanic era, the F5 key would’ve beaten SOS command by miles. If Titanic had selected F5 instead of SOS, they would’ve been definitely saved coz finally the booking page appeared for me at 08:45 am. Between the meantime I have looped “Burn it down” by Linkin Park on Youtube, pre-ordered Little Things from Flipkart. But the success was momentary, I entered my card details and voila! it failed again. It was crawling as if someone has chocked my internet, but I was on 2mbps broadband which was working fantastically for all sites. I tried quick book, the response was faster than any page of IRCTC, not available between 08:00 am to 10:00 am.

In the meantime I was checking the status from Indianrail, which did a fantastic job of showing the numbers falling. This made me guess, the amount of server load IRCTC is uncapable to handle. The first one to go was 3 AC. When I had some success at 08:45 am around the number was “Available 4” but by time I could log on in again it was “WL 4”. Next I saw 2 AC being gone from “Available 10” to “WL 2” and there I was still without ticket. My moment of success came at 09:02 am when finally I was able to book a sleeper ticket. Status when I started booking “Available 55″… “Available 51″… “Available 47″… (each … represents the failure to book, thanks to golden Service Unavailable). When I was finally able to book the ticket, it was “Available 44”. In the whole meantime, the status has changed to
2 AC : WL 5
3 AC : WL 10
Sleeper: 44

It took me 1 hour for booking the ticket. If I had gone to booking counter, 20 mins drive, I might have got a 3 AC ticket. Post 09:00 am, IRCTC site worked like charm. It was smooth as butter. This made me realize where the bottleneck is:

  • IRCTC who is unable to increase it bandwidth capability in peak hours?
  • IRCTCGovernment secretly aiding agent aided booking?
  • Agents who have previously found gateway to book tickets before booking opens?
  • Hackers who are creating a DoS and allowing selected IDs or IPs to book?

When websites like Google, Twitter, Facebook can handle pressure from all over the world why can’t an internal Government website do the same?

You decide!!!

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