Following criticism of the performance of IRCTC’s online ticketing website, and allegations that the downtime was orchestrated in order to help touts book Tatkal tickets, K. H. Muniyappa, the Minister of State for Railways has said that the capacity of the IRCTC website to allow ticketing is being increased from 350,000 per day to 500,000 per day within four months, with the long term goal of reaching 800,000 tickets per day. In addition, the timing for booking of Tatkal (urgent) tickets at counters 8 AM to 10 AM, with effect from 10th July, 2012, in order to avoid congestion in the morning.

Whether this is also applicable to online ticketing is not clear, though that is likely to be the case since it would otherwise lead to an increase in demand for tatkal tickets online. Travel agents will still not be allowed to book tatkal tickets for the first two hours. Every day, on an average, around 1.5 million tickets are sold by the Indian Railways, including via the e-ticketing website and 8838 counters.

Reports have claimed that groups have hacked into the IRCTC system and generating multiple PNRs, booking tickets before 8am, when the website allows booking of tatkal tickets; also travel agents have been personal id’s to book tickets. The railways have instituted measures of adding mobile number, attaching photo ID and carrying the identity cards during travel have been made compulsory.

The minister also pointed towards a substantive increase in the demand-supply gap for railway tickets, saying that some of it has been because of an increase in airline fares. Steps he said that are being taken, apart from increasing capacity and changes in timings, include “augmenting E-Ticketing software licences” and “Technical evaluation of mobile based technology”.