I booked an online ticket for traveling on Indian Railways for a Short Distance Journey, but my ticket was not confirmed at all and is on the waiting list.
Can I travel with the waiting list ticket in the General Compartment?
OK, great, now I can answer the question. General quota and general compartment are two completely different things. Quotas can be
women etc. and that only refers to how many seats are reserved in certain quota. This is a useful in case you can't get a confirmed ticket in
general quota because then you can try
foreign quota or any other applicable one. Mind you, you can book other quotas only in person, at the counter.
General compartment on the other hand is one of the classes for traveling by train in India. It is also called
Unreserved 2nd sitting. In that class you can travel no matter which ticket you have, be it a
General class ticket, a
Sleeper class ticket or even
1AC class ticket. General class ticket is the cheapest one that you can get and doesn't fall into the limitations of general quota. If you have a ticket for your train, you can always go to general class. Sometimes this class is totally abandoned and you can sit, lay or do whatever you like but it is usually overcrowded without any space for you to move in. You may sit if you get there on time but as soon as you get up, you lose your seat. Riding in this class can be fun if you don't have too much luggage and if a route is not too long. I usually take general class for short (up to 4 hours) daytime rides.
Now, to answer your question - no, if you ticket doesn't get confirmed, you will not be able to ride in general class simply because you won't have a ticket since you get refunded for your ticket as soon as they're sure you are not getting confirmed. Don't despair though, you just buy a general class ticket before boarding your train and hope that there will be enough room for you on that train, you won't get anywhere by being polite, just push your way through to get on. Also, one other thing - TTE (Traveling Ticket Examiner) almost never checks the ticket in general class.
BTW, you might be able to get a
Tatkal quota ticket for your trip. It is a last minute quota which is a bit more expensive but it might just get you on that train without the need for pushing and shoving in general compartment.
To update my answer, I found that for popular places people just board the train with a waitlisted ticket in
Sleeper class which gets them to their destination but is very annoying as they sit on your berths all the way and is kinda unfair since you paid the ticket price and don't get the "comfort" you deserve for your trip. But that's all India, I guess...
Ticket categories are:
Ticket Status for any category (except Unreserved) can be:
A ticket with a WL status may get confirmed. You need to keep checking the reservation status of your ticket's PNR (unique identifier that stores your ticket and journey details) online.
Order of status change: WL --> RAC -->CNF
General Compartments of the trains on most popular routes get crowded within minutes of the train pulling in at the source station. Unless you are prepared to shove/push/fight, give up the idea. If you manage to get in, you may or may not get a place to sit.