In what will come as a huge relief to passengers, the Indian Railways has decided to allow changing of boarding station of reserved tickets as late as four hours before the departure time. According to existing rules, passengers are not allowed to change their boarding point beyond 24 hours ahead of the journey.
Starting from May 1, this facility will be available to those who book their tickets online via the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) website. Those who buy their tickets directly from the counter can also change the origin-destination using the 139 railway inquiry system. The facility will also be available for tatkal bookings. However, the change of origin station can be done only twice for a journey. The system will be introduced first for Shatabdi and Rajdhani trains, an Indian Railways circular stated.
The central software of Indian Railways will also be modified, the circular said. However, passengers can’t claim a refund if a part of the journey has been missed.
The announcement comes after Railway Minister Piyush Goyal launched a new feature on the IRCTC website last month, through which passengers can view the reservation chart and vacant berths online.
The minister had said the introduction of the new feature will end the practice of searching for the ticket collector in a moving train. If the second chart is also prepared, then the option to view the details of vacant berths available at the time will be displayed. The second chart is prepared about 30 minutes prior to the departure of the train to accommodate information about current reservations and cancellations done after the first chart.
According to a Railway Ministry official, the new interface will give a graphical representation of the train coaches and berth-wise accommodation status on the IRCTC website. The railway officials said the new feature will look similar to that provided by airlines. The Indian Railways website will show the seating layout with different colours to show the seats that are booked, vacant and partially booked as in the case of flight booking websites.