Why doesn’t the IRCTC website allow you to select your preferred seat?

After successfully logging into IRCTC website you pray your next wish is answered. Your favourite window seat. You see there are almost 300 tickets available. You thank your stars and say no way you are losing a window seat.

Finally when you book, you don’t get the window seat you opted for but you still find 299 tickets remaining. So why is this?

IRCTC’ softeare strictly follows an algorithm and allots seats in a pre- designed way. Imagine there are sleeper class coaches in a train numbered S1, S2 S3… S10, and in every coach there are 72 seats. So when someone first books a ticket, software will assign a seat in the middle coach like S5, middle seat numbered between 30-40, and preferably lower berths.

What happens if tickets are booked randomly?

A train runs at an average speed of around 70km/hr. Assume that S1, S2, S3 are full and S5, S6 are empty and others are partially full, when the train takes a turn, some coaches face maximum centrifugal force and some minimum.

This poses grave danger of derailment. When brakes are applied there will be different braking forces acting at each of these coaches because of the huge weight differences, creating a disruption in the train’s stability.

Profiling is also a factor while allocating seats. Let’s we see, how IRCTC allocate a seat on train based on your gender and age.

Seat Allotment for Single Female

Indian Railways has some strict rules to allocates a seat for Female gender. The top rule in the list is a female gender never be allotted seat in the group of man allotted, and also two same age groups with opposite genders never will be assigned with the same compartment.

Female gender berths are always lower or upper berth most of the scenarios. Other cases they will get any berth on the train if they travelling in group ticket or family members.

Seat Allotment for single Female (above 45 years old)

Seat allocation for ladies is most strict part in railway reservation. They always prefer women safety first. As we know, 2 lower berths are allotted for women in each sleeper and who are above 45 female persons are to be allotted with almost lower berths only.

Case 1: If any female gender booking a ticket with above 45 years old and prefer lower berth, she has 80% of chances to get.

Case 2: if two women waiting list tickets are confirmed and have only one lower berth on the train. Then Rules Engine will check their age .It will compare age and allocates lower berth to the elder one.

So next time you see group of gossiping aunties realise its magic of IRCTC’s algorithm.

Seat Allotment for Young Couples

Indian Railways will always prefer to assign the same coach for couples. If there is no available in the same coach, then at least it prefers to give nearby coaches.

If Couple booking a Reservation ticket, then the system will check first their age and gender. If both are the having same age and opposite gender, then it will look for couple relation. It will check first priority as two side to side middle berths. If it is not available next, it will check for side lower-side upper (or) Lower-Lower (or) Lower-middle Combinations. At worst case, couple seats will be allotted in different coaches

Seat Allotment for Old Couples

Couples are always be allocated in the same compartment. However, here the only change is their Berth priority. If the couple is senior citizens (or) Above 45 years old, the system will check for two opposite lower berths instead of opposite middle berths. If it is failed to allot lower berths, it will check for below combinations.

Lower-middle (or) Side lower-lower (or) middle -middle.

Seat Allotment for Groups

It is clear that always group booking will be allotted in the same compartment (or) same coach at least. Sometimes it depends on the size of the group. If the size of the group is more than four(4), then their first priority will be the same compartment. If it fails to provide the same compartment next priority will be the same coach with back to back seats. Very rare cases only they will get in different coaches.

Seat Allotment for Children and minors.

Children get their Berth always with parents or relatives only. Most of the time, they will get a berth in with surrounded by female genders. There are no strict rules for child/minor. But the priority is the same compartment with parent/relative with lower (or) Middle berth

Lastly if you are a male

Seat Allotment for single male (above 21 years old)

Case 1: If you’re booking a seat in sleeper coach and your preference is for upper berth, Rules engine will check your age and gender first. Then it will check your berth preference. If there are any upper berth availability, it will be allotted to you. Otherwise, it checks for a middle berth, side-upper in respected order.

Case 2: If your berth preference is lower berth with male gender and above 21 years old, then System will check there is any berth around with old aged peoples. If yes you will get a lower berth. Otherwise, it starts from a standard order like Upper, Middle, Side Upper, Side Lower, Lower berths.

Note: Ticket booked under divyang quota will be given priority and lower/side lower berths near gates will be alloted.