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Needless to say railway reservation system managed by Indian railways is one of the oldest, largest and time proven computerized system in the world. Considering the volume it handles it is also one of the best transaction processing system in the world.
However, its websites such as indianrail.gov.in that offer facilities to find the train availability and its online booking arm, viz., irctc.co.in, could have been designed little better as far as the search facilities are concerned.
For example, when you want to know the seat or berth availability for a particular date from one station to the other, trains that connect the two stations will be listed once you had given the starting station and the destination. From this list of trains you have to look for availability, by exhausting each train in the list. This type of search is highly time consuming and lacks smartness.
What we need is when you search for tickets for a particular date from one destination to the other, we should be able to find out the trains straightaway in which tickets are available, given the date of journey and starting and destination stations
Now, this hiccup has been sorted out the other way around as Indian Railways opened its inventory to private players such as Thomas Cook, cleartrip.com etc. Makemytrip.com one of the leading online travel agencies has also announced that it would be launching online railway booking soon.
Out of these private players we found that cleartrip.com is leading the show. Its Interface and search facilities are really smarter. The lack of search facilities in irctc.co.in, we were talking about earlier has been taken care by cleartrip.com.
Of course, you have to shell out a bit more in terms of booking charges for using the online booking services of these private players compared to irctc.co.in. But our folks getting are even smarter. They use the ticket availability search facilities of these sites first, which is free as of now, and then book tickets through irctc.co.in.