The advance booking for tickets in the Indian Railways commences 120 days before the date of the journey. Tickets can be booked online at www.irctc.co.in, or offline at Passenger Reservation System(PRS) in railway stations. The online ticket can again be an e-ticket whose print-out is to be shown during the journey or an i-ticket which is delivered to the passenger by Courier. All the tickets issued contain a unique 10-digit PNR(Passenger Name Record) which is to be quoted during any correspondence relating to the ticket/journey. The ticket also shows the journey details like train number, journey date, travel class, origin, destination, ticket status, berth details for confirmed tickets, passenger details etc. A Maximum of six passengers can travel through one ticket. But having a ticket does not guarantee that the journey is confirmed, it depends on the status of the ticket. The status of the ticket can be waiting (WL), RAC (half berth), or confirmed (full berth). A passenger is guaranteed a journey if his/her ticket is CNF(confirmed) or RAC(Reservation Against Cancellation) but not if its WL(Waiting List). These technical details can be quite illegible to the average user, who can struggle to grapple what TQWL or RLWL is, or what PQWL means. For the benefit of the passengers, all the different statuses of train tickets are described below in intricate detail.
• Confirmed (CNF) - If the status of the ticket is Confirmed the passenger is guaranteed to get a complete berth (Upper, Middle, Lower, Side Upper or Side Lower) for the journey. The berth details of a confirmed ticket are usually given when the ticket is issued. Only in case of First AC compartments(1A), the passenger may not get berth details when the ticket is issued because the berth allotment for this class is done manually by the TTE during chart preparation.
• RAC (Reservation Against Cancellation) - Once the general quota seats are filled, passengers are placed in RAC queue.RAC passengers can travel in the train but are not guaranteed a full berth.2 passengers travelling by RAC are assigned the same side lower berth seat. If any cancellation is done in the general quota seats, the person in the RAC queue is assigned a CNF ( Confirmed ) status.RAC passengers can cancel the ticket 30 minutes before departure of the train. If the ticket is cancelled by 30 minutes before departure of the train, a full refund is granted deducting cancellation charges. After charting if the status remains in RAC, full berth will be allocated from the confirmed passengers who have not boarded the train. While in train TTE checks passengers who have not come and vacant seats are assigned to RAC passengers in priority according to the order of the RAC passengers given in the chart.
• WL (Waiting list) - If the ticket status is marked as WL followed by a number then the passenger has a waitlisted status. The ticket can get confirmed only if the passengers who have booked before for the same journey cancel their ticket. For example, if the status is GNWL 13 / WL 9, then this means that the ticket has a waiting list of 9 and it will get confirmed only if 9 passengers who have booked before for the same journey cancel their tickets. GNWL/AVAILABLE means that the current status of the ticket is Confirmed because some passengers who booked before having cancelled their tickets. In case the passenger status is waitlisted even after the chart preparation, then the passenger is not allotted any berth. If cancellation of a waitlisted ticket is made 48 hours before the departure of the train, only a cancellation charge of Rs. 60 is deducted per person. If all the passengers on an e-ticket have waitlisted status after final chart preparation, then the ticket gets automatically cancelled and the amount is refunded back to the user’s account. In this case, the passengers are advised not to board the train. If at least one passenger has RAC or confirmed status while the other passengers on the same ticket have waiting list status, then the e-ticket does not get cancelled automatically and the passengers are allowed to board the train. Waiting list tickets can be of various types:
These lists should help clear the confusion about waiting lists for the Indian Railways. For more details, you may also download the IRCTC app for mobile devices.