Till yesterday I had never booked a Tatkal ticket on Indian Railways. A friend of mine was trying to book her tatkal tickets for last 2 days but every time she would try to login at 10:00 AM, the IRCTC site would stop responding.

In anguish she called yesterday to check if I could help. So began my research.

For the uninitiated, here is a primer:

  • Booking for Tatkal tickets can be done only between 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM.
  • Booking for Tatkal tickets can be done only a day before your travelling date.
  • Under tatkal scheme, you are not offered any concessional fare.
  • You can only book 2 tickets at a time under tatkal.
  • An ID card number is required for all the passengers traveling on tatkal tickets. Unlike normal reservation, tatkal booking form requires this number to be filled at the time of booking.
  • There are several thousand people across the world who try to book tickets at the same time concurrently. Indian Railways site is busiest and slowest at this time.
  • A session on IRCTC site expires after 3 minutes of inactivity.
  • QuickBook feature is not enabled during tatkal booking hours.

As I started reading articles online, it became clear that I need to beat others in form filling time. To semi-automated the process, most of the sites have recommended a utility called Magic Autofill written by Amit Agarwal. I tried it on 3 browsers (Chrome, Firefox and IE) but for some reason, it didn’t work at all.

Enter Roboform. This has been my favorite utility for past several years. It stores and generates passwords for me and help fill long forms at the click of a button. Taking help of this software and a bit of planning I was able to book tickets in a single attempt.

Here is the step-by-step process you can follow:

  1. Download and install a full functional 30 days trial of Roboform. (I would strongly suggest you to buy this inexpensive software once the trial expires, it has saved countless hours for me over the years.). Roboform gets installed as a browser extension.
  2. You basically have 3 forms to fill on IRCTC in the complete process. Do this little exercise, before you actually go on to book tatkal tickets. (This is a one time exercise, it will help you for future bookings as well) Go to IRCTC and login as you would normally do. Roboform will prompt you to save your username/password credentials. Save it using a meaningful name – say irctc. [You have completed automation for Form #1]
  3. Click ‘Proceed for Booking’ on the next page. On the left side, you will see the form shown below. plan-my-journey
  4. Now go to Roboform > identities > New and create a new identity.Give it some name say – IRCTC From and To Destination.new-identity
  5. Fill in the custom fields marked in Red box exactly as shown below. The fields for green box should be taken from the first image above. Save these fields by clicking on save button on top right side. [You have completed automation for Form #2]irctc-custom-field
  6. Click ‘Submit’ as shown on the first image above. On the right side, choose the train and class of travel as you would normally do. You will get this form. irctc-passenger-details
  7. Again, create a new identity as shown in Step#4. Fill in the custom fields marked in Red box exactly as shown below. The fields for green box should be taken from the image above. Save these fields by clicking on save button on top right side. [You have completed automation for Form #3].custom-passenger-details
  8. It may seem a bit daunting since you are doing this for the first time but I am sure this will help you in the long run. Make sure you do a dry-run before actual tatkal booking.
  9. IRCTC time out is 3 minutes of inactivity. I would suggest you to login around 9:58 AM and keep toggling between various classes of travel to prevent time out.

All the best! Let me know if you need any help.

Note: We are NOT doing anything illegal here. We are just taking help of a simple software to speed up the form filling time.

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