Recently we booked train tickets to travel to Tarkarli. The booking for the train tickets normally opens 60 days before the date of travel. We booked the tickets on the very first day when the ticket booking opened up. However, since we were traveling during the New Year – and it happens to be one of the busiest period to travel – by the time I could book the tickets, we were already in the waiting list. We were originally 11th or 12th on the waiting list and since we have traveled so many times, we were under the assumption that by the time the travel dates would come near, we would have confirmed seats. Only this time we were wrong.
By the time our dates of travel arrived – our seats had moved from waiting to Reserved Against Cancellation (RAC). Basically this means that we have been given one berth between two people. Normally one berth is allotted to one passenger however, in this case the same berth is allocated to 2 passengers and both of them are suppose to share the berth. A berth is split into 2 seats for 2 RAC ticket holders, if there’s any last minute cancellations, or if any quota allocations remain unsold, or if any confirmed ticket holders are given a free upgrade (more later), an RAC ticket holder is given the empty berth, the other RAC ticket holder can then convert the 2 seats into a berth.I have never understood the concept of RAC – either you have a confirmed seat or you are in waiting list. The RAC seat always causes a lot of discomfort for both the passengers. In a lot of cases, you are sharing a berth with a complete stranger and it can be an awkward situation.
Between the 7 of us, we were allotted 3 RAC seats. We boarded our coach and settled on our individual berths. I was kinda worried as to how the 7 of us would manage on 3 berths – especially side lower berths which had been allocated to us. I am not sure, however, I feel the side berths are a bit smaller than the normal berths. So two people sharing the berth can be a little difficult. The ticket checker came after a few minutes and we told him about our situation.He told us to wait until Panvel and he should be able to help us out by then. This guy was genuinely good. Panvel arrived after 90 minutes and we asked him if there were any empty berths. We got lucky and were given 4 additional seats in the same compartment. The rest of the journey was uneventful. However, it got me thinking as to why would Indian Railways sell tickets on RAC. However – that’s a post for different time.