Given the amount of passenger traffic the Indian Railways website experiences these days, it is hard to get confirmed tickets for many busy train routes. And being waitlisted can be frustrating, not to mention ruinous to one’s travel plans. But now there is an app that can help people get confirmed tickets, by finding alternate routes or trains to their desired destinations.
“I was a student at NIT Jamshedpur for four years and my home is in Maharashtra. So I used to travel a lot by trains – from Aurangabad to Nagpur and from there to Tatanagar. In those four years, I always faced the problem of finding confirmed tickets because the Mumbai-Howrah route that I had to take is usually very busy,” says 21-year-old Shubham Baldava, who later utilised his experience with Indian Railways to develop Ticket Jugaad – an Android app that helps passengers find alternate routes and trains when they are unable to get confirmed seats on their first choice.
The app provides users with all the possible permutations and combinations for routes, which can help cover a maximum part of the journey with a confirmed ticket.
“I learnt that sometimes you don’t get a ticket from station A to B because a few people might have booked seats for only a small partial stretch between the two stations. So even though some seats are available at your source station, you won’t get a confirmed ticket because a small portion of the journey is already booked. This further means that you have the option of booking tickets for a portion of your journey, after which you can book another train depending on where you have reached,” Shubham elaborates.
Additionally, he also realised that there are station-wise quotas for ticket booking. So if one is booking a ticket from station A, it might show waiting list, but when booked from a previous station, the passenger will get the ticket.
“I simply wrote a computer program to see if I could find an alternate route from station A to B. And it worked. I transformed the algorithm into an app and on testing, found that the results were satisfying. One could find confirmed tickets for about 50-60% of the journey, even on the busiest routes,” he says.
Once the app was ready, Shubham contacted Runal Jaju, his cousin, who is currently a second year student at IIT Kharagpur. Both of them sat down to develop a business plan to take the app into the market and launched it about a month ago. In just a few days, about 1.95 lakh people have downloaded Ticket Jugaad.
On opening the app, one has to simply type the source and destination stations and an algorithm helps find all possible routes and trains with available seats.
“There are many trains from stations before your source station that are headed towards your destination. The algorithm finds empty seats from such stations, smartly combines the routes and gives you a way to cover the maximum distance on your desired route. So you can get confirmed tickets for the entire distance, or for some percentage of the journey,” adds Shubham.
The current version of Ticket Jugaad gives information only on confirmed tickets available on a train on one route – either for the complete journey or a portion of it. But Shubham and Runal are planning to develop it further so that the entire journey can be completed with the help of bookings on more than one train as well. The cost of the final ticket depends on the source and destination stations, but the app does not charge anything for searching.
Currently, a person not using the app has to go to the IRCTC website, enter the names of the stations and check availability of trains. It is difficult to find different routes manually, but Ticket Jugaad has automated the process.
“I used to wake up at six in the morning to stand in Tatkal ticket lines, but I never found one. Railway ticket agents use their experience to do the same thing as the app, but they charge extra for their services. We are giving this information for free,” says Shubham.
The development of the app was supported by the entrepreneurship cell of IIT Kharagpur and Ticket Jugaad also won the first prize of Rs 1.5 lakh at their Annual Global Business Model Competition recently.
“We were struggling with how to provide some booking functionality to users, because if you want to have a feature for booking tickets on your app or server, then you need to purchase the IRCTC licence that costs Rs. 80 lakh to 1 core. We didn’t have that kind of money, so we went for a tie-up with Cleartrip – the travel and hotel booking website, and integrated the booking facility. Now, users are redirected to Cleartrip at the time of final booking,” says Shubham, who initially put money from his own pocket for the server and development costs. The duo is now trying to update the servers for better functionalities.
So the next time you are struggling with your travel plans because of waitlisted train tickets, this is the app to think about. Bon voyage!
Download it here.