What would you do if the tickets required are not available in General quota category? You would obviously have a go at tatkal (or the premium tatkal) option. What if you find plenty of vacant seats in that Category? You will simply book the required number of tickets immediately. Or, may be you should try and wait a little if you want to save some neat money. That’s IRCTC’s Curr_avlb (or current availability) feature for you.
It was late last year that IRCTC introduced this current availability booking feature. It’s single point agenda was to lessen as many vacant seats in a train as possible. But of late, I find many of my friends using this feature to save some money.
What is Current Availability booking?
It simply means booking a train ticket after the chart has been prepared. As you may be aware that charts are prepared 3-4 hours before that trains departs from the originating station. Until the introduction of this feature,
there was no way to book vacant seats after the chart has been prepared. This simple means loss of revenue for railways as vacant seats means zero monetary gains. With the arrival of current availability booking, this has been reduced to some extent as passengers can now book tickets even after the chart has been prepared.
Abusing the Curr_avlb system
Now the important aspect of this is the pricing of the system. Railways could have been of the view that any money derived from this means profit. But its turning otherwise for some trains where the tatkal tickets mainly are available in plenty. Tatkal tickets are premium to General quota tickets. And current availability tickets are priced even cheaper than General quota tickets. This is where the abuse is coming from.
So anyone who would want to buy a tatkal ticket for a lack of one in General quota, he would simple wait for 3-4 hours for the departure time to find the same tatkal tickets under Curr_avlb and book them for even lesser price than General quota tickets.
Of course, there is no guarantee that these tickets won’t be booked in the mean time. They could all well be booked off and you would simply see a NOT AVAILABLE status instead of Curr_avlb, so this is definitely not recommended in case you are travelling for some important reason.
What should IRCTC do?
Well they should simply get the pricing right to stop this abuse. Even if they are cheaper than tatkal tickets, I see no reason why these should be priced cheaper than General quota tickets. Or, even better is to somehow extend the tatkal booking completely upto the departure of the train and remove the current availability feature altogether.