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When purchasing a reserved ticket on any train operated by Indian Railways, one's required to enter the age and gender (male or female) of all passengers. However, for various reasons, I don't wish to disclose my* gender. For instance, my expressed gender may be different from the one in my identity document (explicitly written or implicitly pictured), or I may not identify with a particular gender.

The standard IRCTC website for purchasing tickets on Indian Railways won't let you through if you don't select a gender.

Is there a way to purchase a train ticket without disclosing your gender? Why does Indian Railways require passengers to disclose their gender at the time of booking?

* Question doesn't necessarily relate to me

  • The gender as well as age of the passenger are printed on the reservation chart as well so I think both of these are integral to the booking. My guess is that it makes it easier for Ticket Examiners to catch people travelling on tickets bought illegally. – RedBaron Oct 9 '18 at 7:32
  • Why does Indian Railways require passengers to disclose their gender at the time of booking Primarily to prevent fraudulent booking of tickets. And maybe allocating same sexes nearby, I would assume for females, when seating options provided during booking aren't available (this is a guess only) – DumbCoder Oct 9 '18 at 8:40
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    Does Indian Railways offer women only cars? – Nick Oct 9 '18 at 19:50
  • @Nick No, they don't. – gparyani Oct 9 '18 at 21:40
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No, there isn't any way to book it without disclosing the gender. There are a number of reasons to make it mandatory:

  1. There are a lot unauthorized agents which make generic/fraudulent ticket bookings and then illegally resell these at higher prices. Asking specifics like age, gender, name, etc. prevents such practices to an extent.
  2. There is a Ladies Quota for women. It's meant to be a quota for women traveling alone or with a child under three years of age. It is available only in Sleeper Class and is available on most trains on Indian Railways that offer that class. However, there are only six berths available under this quota on the entire train. These six berths will always be together in one coach, usually the first bay next to the door. To book an online ticket under the Ladies Quota, one has to select "Ladies" from the Quota option on IRCTC (under the same dropdown as General, Tatkal). If booking at a PRS counter at the station, one has to mention it on the booking form. This quota does not have RAC or a waitlist, so once the six berths are sold out, they're gone, and the status will show "Not Available." It goes without saying that only women can be booked under this.
  3. Pregnant women and women above 45 years of age travelling alone will be issued a lower berth (normally, conductors will issue one on request, and co-passengers are also generous)
  4. In all the trains having reserved accommodation, a combined quota (code SS) of two lower berths per coach have been designated in Sleeper, AC 3 Tier and AC 2 Tier classes for the following passengers when travelling alone:

    • Senior citizen
    • Female passengers 45 years of age and above
    • Pregnant women
  • Thanks for the detailed analysis. Some comments: 1. When I purchase an airline ticket (here in the US), I'm only prompted for my name and birthdate; airline tickets are also non-transferable and that data is sufficient to prevent it, so IMO there's no need to ask for it for this reason. 2. You're effectively certifying that you're a woman when you purchase a ticket under this quota; no need to also indicate so elsewhere. 3. and 4. There's no way to indicate you're pregnant when booking, and this is verified at the station, so this effectively boils down to ageism between men and women. – gparyani Apr 23 at 18:54
  • (continuing) So, effectively, as far as I can tell, reasons 1 and 2 can still be resolved without requiring a gender, and reasons 3 and 4 (other than the pregnancy case, which again can't be given at booking) boil down to sexism and ageism. (There's a huge push to remove such regulations here in the States, which I happen to be in favor of.) There's another reason as far as I can tell, though: for 1AC, seat assignments are decided manually rather than automatically, so gender may make sense when deciding who to allocate in what cabin; single travelers may be allocated with the same gender. – gparyani Apr 23 at 18:58
  • (continuing) But if you're totally fine with being seated in the same cabin as the opposite gender, you may not want to disclose your own. (But India's attitudes haven't liberalized, yet...) tl;dr it makes sense to give the option to disclose one's gender, especially if it happens to be female (guaranteed lower berth at an earlier age in 2A, 3A, and SL; seated with same gender in 1A), but they should offer the option not to if one likes. – gparyani Apr 23 at 18:59
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    1. As of April 2019, many US airlines still do ask to specify the gender and provide only two options f/m. That said, US airlines are planning to get rid of this practice and possibly some of them has already done that. Particularly, Airlines for America announced on Feb 19, 2019, that their members would add new options "unspecified" and "undisclosed" on June 1, 2019. – R-traveler Apr 23 at 19:49
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    @R-traveler Perhaps I'm mis-recalling...my info is automatically filled in because I'm signed in to my frequent flyer account when booking. – gparyani May 2 at 23:06

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