Tatkal in Indian Railways. Tatkal means instant or immediate. Indian Railways offers a special reservation scheme called Tatkal. The idea is to help passengers book tickets during an urgency. The railways earn a premium on such Tatkal quota tickets.
Of course the typical railways style rules apply to Tatkal tickets. Let's see some of the highlight of the Tatkal reservation.
First of all it is possible to buy Tatkal tickets both online and from the conventional reservation counters. However the booking for Tatkal seats would start only 2 days before the date of journey, excluding the date of journey. For a journey on 6th, you can book in Tatkal at the earliest by 1st of that month. Tatkal booking starts at 8 AM in line with the regular counter reservation hours.
Of late the way Tatkal reservation concept is managed has changed a lot. Earlier there used to be special coaches called Tatkal coaches attached to (some identified ) trains. Now a days there are no Tatkal coaches attached , instead a specific number of seats in the regular coaches are kept aside as Tatkal quota seats.
For 2A class 4 berths per coach is kept aside as Tatkal quota. Similarly for 3A it is 6 berths and AC Chair Car , 6 seats per coach . The largest number is for the second Sleeper Class with 10% of the available berths reserved as Tatkal. There is no Tatkal scheme for 1A class.
If the Tatkal quota is not filled up, it is released to the Wait Listed passengers as usual (no premium for this).
In addition to the regular ticket fares and the reservation fee, one has to pay an additional premium for the Tatkal tickets. The railways has classified the premium into two category according to the season. What is known as the Non Peak Period is the three months February, March and August. The rest of the 9 months are considered Peak Period.
The premium is as follows: Class - Premium non peak period ( premium peak period) 2AC, 3AC and 3 AC (Garib Rath) - Rs200 (Rs300) ; AC Chair Car & Second Sleeper Coach - Rs 75 (Rs150) ;
There are a few more riders. Since it is an exclusively kept quota , one has the reserve for the full journey of the train. That seems to be the norm, though there could be some exemptions. So if your journey is shorter than the trains journey , you end up paying for that extra distances too.
For cancellation you lose 25% of the fare in addition to the premium, that is if you cancel 24 hours before departure. No cancellation possible for Tatkal tickets after within 24 hours before the departure of the trains. For Wait listed Tatkal tickets other cancellation conditions for the regular tickets too apply.
In addition to the premium and other conditions , Tatkal tickets are not as flexible as the regular reservation tickets in making changes. So be sure of your travel plan before booking Tatkal ticket. On the online menu an option is given to book your ticket in Tatkal scheme. For the conventional reservation too , you can mark on the reservation form for Tatkal option.
In any case the railways is known for changing rules and improving features on a continual basis. It is highly advised to check at their website for the latest and accurate details before you take any decision or assumptions on this aspect. As the details given here are only from an amateur perspective, do not use it as a complete, accurate and up to date info.