37

In most of the world, if you want to travel from A to B, you buy a ticket from A to B and that's it.

However, in India, it's possible to buy a ticket from X to B, designate a Boarding Point in A somewhere along the way, and board the train at A. Makemytrip explains how this works:

What is a boarding point?

You can choose a boarding point, from where you will board the train. This can be any station between the Reservation From station and Reservation Upto station. By default, you Reservation From station is also your boarding point.

While you may choose a boarding point as any station on the route of the train, you would have to pay the fare as applicable for Reservation From – Reservation To stations. For example, if you are booking a ticket from Mumbai Central to New Delhi and choose the boarding point as Kota Jn, then you can board the train only at Kota Jn and not between Mumbai Central and Kota Jn. You would however have to pay the fare for Mumbai Central to New Delhi

The question left unanswered is why would you want to do this? It would seem much more logical and cheaper to just buy a ticket from Kota Jn to New Delhi.

  • 1
    If I travel from just outside of town A to town B, it is likely my seat can not be sold for the short distance I am not in the train. Hence charging me the same as someone going from town A to town B makes sence. (then think how a seat booking system could work before computers) – Ian Ringrose Jan 11 at 15:34
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    @IanRingrose The railway can organize itself internally however it wants. If they want to reserve my seat from A to B, instead of just-outside-A to B, they're welcome to do that. And they're within their rights to set their pricing structure so that it charges me for the probably-unusable seat. But all of that is internal to the railway and it doesn't answer the question. The question is why they let the customer do these things, when doing them seems to be to the customer's disadvantage. – David Richerby Jan 11 at 16:01
  • it's simply to you can "pay a little more to get a reserved seat" - no mystery – Fattie Jan 13 at 12:41
  • @IanRingrose, your comment is hard to understand if you pick the wrong side of just outside town A... – hkBst Jan 13 at 14:23
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You can change boarding point any time you like after booking the ticket, so that you don't have to cancel the ticket and buy another.

Railway will cancel your ticket if they can't find you in a fixed number of stops and will assign your reserved seat to a person who boarded the train with waiting list ticket.

Also, some stations will have a fixed quota of tatkal tickets. If train runs from X-A-B, where A is a popular station where people are more likely to take the ticket and run out of quota, it makes sensible to take ticket from X-B and change boarding station to A, afterwards. (Source: My friend who is expert at ticketing)

  • What happens if I don't assign the boarding point but still board? Will I just lose the seat, or will my ticket be invalidated completely? – Dmitry Grigoryev Jan 11 at 7:48
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    +1 Another use case is trying to beat the quota system of Indian Railways. X-A-B ticket is under General Quota so more tickets are available but A-B ticket is under Pooled Quota so less tickets are available. It is sensible to buy X-B and set boarding point as A even though it is costlier because you have more chances of getting a confirmed ticket. – RedBaron Jan 11 at 8:03
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    @DmitryGrigoryev You will just loose the seat. – Anish Sheela Jan 11 at 8:10
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    This is completely insane. If I want to go from A to B, I would buy a ticket from A to B and not from X to B just because the damn railway company can't manage the seats properly! – ElmoVanKielmo Jan 11 at 14:31
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    @ElmoVanKielmo If you think that's insane you should probably do a google image search for indian trains.. Here's one: im.rediff.com/money/2014/jan/13rail.jpg – pipe Jan 13 at 10:02
8

Recently I found this Boarding point feature very useful.

I was booking ticket in Rajdhani from A to B but it was giving me error "BOOKING NOT ALLOWED FOR GIVEN PAIR OF STATIONS". The reason for this error is "If you're trying to book a ticket for a short journey on a train that travels a long distance, you might encounter this error message."

So I booked ticket from X(Source station which is just two station before A) to B and changed my boarding to A.

  • 6
    But a better solution would be to just let you book what you wanted! Presumably, they don't want people booking short journeys on long-distance trains because that would deny a seat to somebody who books later but wants to travel long-distance. But forcing you to take up a seat for more distance than you're using it makes that problem worse, not better! – David Richerby Jan 11 at 19:39
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    This train is premium fast train with food on-board, Covering 2k km with 26 stoppage. So I think it will not be profitable or a good experience if they allow reservation between every station. If you really want ticket for A->B there are many other trains also. – Vivart Jan 11 at 20:09
  • Sure, but there are better ways of discouraging reservations for short journeys on long-distance trains. They could just ban reservations for short journeys, for example. They could say "Tickets from A to B are not valid on the long-distance express." – David Richerby Jan 11 at 21:35
  • yeah sure but in my case other trains timing were not matching with my schedule but this train timing was matching perfectly and as a plus point it's fastest in all other trains so I didn't mind to book for extra stations and changed boarding point. – Vivart Jan 12 at 0:21
  • @david what? The logical solution is to make the price of travel between A and B high enough to guarantee proper revenue. It's a win win situation. Your proposal of banning short trips doesn't guarantee that anyone would book the seat - the potential passenger is left without a service and the seat remains empty giving no income for the company. – ElmoVanKielmo Jan 13 at 13:32
5

Indian trains cover very large distances over multiple days and have various stoppages along the way. The reservations are usually done at least 2-3 months in advance and for this reason, having a little bit of flexibility in case of change of plans is very useful and convenient for the people.

Instead of canceling the entire ticket and trying to re-book it from a new station along the way, it becomes handy to just change the boarding point while still having a confirmed ticket in hand.

It might surprise some but the volume of people that travel in Indian trains every day is so huge that some people do not get confirmed seats even if they book well in advance. The ticketing system is very advanced and is designed based on the traffic which means that if X-B is a more popular travel route, more percent of seats will be allotted for this route on a particular train than A-B. It is referred to as quota but it is just based on traffic. Any tickets being booked from X-B will have more probability of a confirmed reservation than A-B.

For this reason, people sometimes knowingly book tickets from a different station even if it costs more. Also, the entire reservation system is transparent so at the time of booking, you can very well see if there are seats left on A-B route or not and then book from X-B in case the seats are taken. You can still get a wait-list ticket for A-B but that will be a risk because then your confirmation will depend on somebody else canceling their A-B tickets for more seats to open up.

4

In Indian Railways there is a system called Reservation Against Cancellation or RAC. This is, let us say there are 700 seats in a train, then 750 people can book the ticket and board that particular train. A few seats (one per compartment) will be given to two people instead of one. So basically two people are alotted to the same seat. Now let us say someone did not board the train. Then the conductor will allocate that seat to one of the person who is under RAC.

Now let us say, you booked a ticket from Mumbai, and decided to boared from Kota; the problem now is, when the conductor comes, you have not boarded from Mumbai and your seat will be allocated to the guy under RAC. To prevent this from happening you have to change your boarding point to Kota, so that the conductor knows that you didn't miss the train but will instead board from Kota, and your seat won't be allocated to someone else.

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    This wouldn't have happen if you've just bought a ticket from Kota Jn to New Delhi, as jpatokal suggested. – Dmitry Grigoryev Jan 11 at 7:45
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    This is completely insane. If I want to go from A to B, I would buy a ticket from A to B and not from X to B just because the damn railway company can't manage the seats properly! – ElmoVanKielmo Jan 11 at 14:31
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    First I thought - insane, but then I realized it is exactly what happens all over the world with plane tickets. In the train, at least you can stand in the corridor if there are no seats left... – Artur Biesiadowski Jan 11 at 15:27
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    @ElmoVanKielmo, this is a combination of the "overbooking" and "standby travel" procedures that nearly every airline in the world uses. And from the viewpoint of the railroad, it makes perfect sense: if rail travel is anything like airline travel, about 15% of ticketed passengers won't show up, so selling more tickets than you have seats gives you a substantial increase in profit. – Mark Jan 11 at 21:10
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    @Mark Airlines use overbooking and standby travel but I've never heard of an airline letting you buy a ticket from A to C via B and only get on at B. – David Richerby Jan 12 at 14:18
4

Consider a train with 150 seats. Consider the route has 3 stations A-X-B. A is the starting point and the larger and popular station, so it is assigned more seats for reservation. Consider it to be

A: 125 seats
X: 25 seats

Logically, there are more chances of getting a confirmed ticket for the route A-B than X-B.

Indian Railways sells a lot more tickets than the number of seats on the train, so the ticket you buy can be in Confirmed,RAC or Waiting status.

  • Confirmed - You have a seat number and a bed assigned
  • RAC - Your ticket would be in RAC if all the seats have been sold off. This mean you can get into the train and sit in some seat assigned by the TC, but you would only get a bed if someone with a confirmed seat cancels their ticket or fails to turn up in the train at their boarding point.
  • Waiting List - This means all the Confirmed and RAC tickets have been completed and you are on a wait-list. You are not allowed to board the train with a ticket in this status. Your status might change daily until the day of departure depending on the number of Confimred/RAC passengers cancelling their tickets.

So, I can buy a ticket for A-B and put the boarding point as X, in the following scenarios:

  1. I want to have a better probability of getting a Confirmed ticket rather than a RAC/Wait-listed ticket and I don't mind the extra charge I pay for my lesser distance.
    If I just buy a ticket from A-B without specifying any boarding point and try to board at X, I would be marked as a no-show and my seat would've already be given to some RAC passenger.
    So the proper procedure of booking would be to buy a ticket for A-B with boarding point as X. This makes sure I have my seat and bed free when I board in station X.

  2. I had originally intended to travel from A-B, but later changed my plans and want to board the train at X. If I cancel the whole ticket and try to buy a new ticket for X-B, I might get a Wait-listed ticket. Hence, I keep my existing Confirmed ticket and just change the Boarding point to X.

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    Not shooting the messenger, of course, but if people who live in X have a higher chance of getting a seat from A's quota than their own, that says that the quotas are set at the wrong level! This isn't helping people from X: it's screwing them over by making them buy tickets from A. Indeed, why have quotas at all? If there are 150 seats on the train and five times as many people want to travel from A as from X then, with no quota system at all (just reserved seats and standbys), you will naturally end up with about 125 people from A and 25 people from X on each train. – David Richerby Jan 12 at 21:24
  • @DavidRicherby This is my interpretation, so a pinch of salt disclaimer. The purpose of a quota is to guarantee some seats for X (which is usually a smaller intermediate town along the way). If there is a waiting list for both the quotas, it is your call whether to add yourself to the list for the smaller or the bigger quota. I presume that at the time of charting (couple of hours before the journey when these things are settled), they will automatically clear waiting lists across quotas if one is full and the other is not. Presumably this also allows them to optimize on seat occupancy. – Ankush Jain Jan 12 at 22:31
  • Another example, if on a long distance train (A-X-Y-B) a particular intermediate section (X-Y) is very popular, those travellers are competing against longer distance travellers (A-B). The cap for X-Y can be set to roughly match the demand of A-X and Y-B, so that all cities have some shot at a reservation, and coach occupancy is not affected. If you want to travel on X-Y but are willing to pay for A-B, well that's a special case. With hundreds of trains having 50-odd stops, these things do add up. – Ankush Jain Jan 12 at 22:36
  • But if trains selling out is so common, why not just run more trains? A well run railway only needs an average occupancy of about 30% to run a profit. Indian Railways could just run more trains... – Krist van Besien Feb 22 at 14:11

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