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Quotas in Indian Railway

Indian Railway carries 2.3 crore people daily. This means it handles an extremely large number of seat and berth reservations daily. Different people have different choices and different priorities and Railways has to take care of them all. For example, it reserves lower berths for senior citizens, favours military people and member of parliament above common man in providing accommodation and blocks some seats for emergency which are released only few hours before train departure. To cater to this Indian Railways have subdivided the large number of seats on a train into various quotas so that everyone is able to enjoy the benefits of this travel mode.

This article talks about the different types of quotas that exist in the reservation process by the Indian Railways.

Different Quotas
1.GNGeneral Quota
2.TQTatkal Quota
3.PTPremium Tatkal Quota
4.LDLadies Quota
5.SSLower Berth Quota
6.HPPhysically Handicapped Quota
7.HOHeadquarters/High official Quota
8.PHParliament House Quota
9.DFDefence Quota
10.FTForeign Tourist Quota
11.DPDuty Pass Quota
12.YUYuva Quota

There are 12 different types of quotas in the ticket reservation offered by Indian Railways such as General, Ladies, Tatkal, Senior Citizen etc. When booking begins (Advanced Reservation Period) which is 4 months before the departure of the train, around only 50% of seats are released for the general public. Remaining seats are in allotted to different quotas and only eligible passengers of certain quota are allowed to reserve seats in that.

railway quota

General Quota (GN)

general quota
General quota is the most common type of quota present in every train. It can be referred to as quota for common man. General Quota has the highest number of seats allocation in a train. Bookings under general quota opens 120 days in advance meaning its Advance Reservation Period (ARP) is 120 days. If you are waitlisted in the General Quota, the so-called General Quota Waiting List, your chances of getting confirmed are higher. After all tickets under this quota gets booked, tickets are issued under RAC where one berth is shared by 2 passengers and then waiting list is issued. Waiting list issued under this quota can be GNWL, RLWL, RSWL, PQWL etc. depending on passenger origin and destination stations.

Tatkal Quota (TQ)

tatkal quota

Tatkal Quota is the most sought after reservation quota for booking tickets. Tatkal quota is meant primarily for the passengers with immediate or urgent travel plans. However the rush increases in tatkal quota as the general quota seats are mostly booked even if the plan is made a month ago. During festive season, it is near to impossible for a common passenger to book a ticket in tatkal quota if they try to book on IRCTC.

Booking for tatkal quota opens at 10am on the previous day of journey from train originating station for AC classes whereas that for non-AC classes booking starts at 11am. There is no RAC under this quota and once all seats are filled in this quota TQWL tickets are issued. There are no provision for any form of concessional tickets under this quota and same fare is charged for every type of passenger in this quota.

To book ticket in Tatkal quota, one has to choose “Tatkal” option under the number of quota options in IRCTC. Individuals are allowed only two tickets per user-ID in a day for Tatkal booking from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon. Know about useful tips and tricks to book tatkal tickets.

Different railway zones earmark the number of seats in Tatkal quota. However generally railways allot the berths in tatkal quota based on the table below :

Classes Maximum Tatkal accomodation which can be earnmarked in a train
Executive Class (EC)5 seats per Coach
Second AC (2A)10 Berths Per Coach
Third AC (3A)16 Berths Per Coach
AC Chair Car(CC)16 Seats Per Coach
Sleper (SL)30% of the accommodation
Reserved Second Sitting (2S)10% of the accommodation


premium tatkal quota

Premium Tatkal Quota is a reservation quota introduced by Railways with dynamic fare pricing in a limited number of trains on experimental basis. The main difference of premium tatkal scheme, with all other ticketing including the regular Tatkal tickets, is the dynamic nature of ticket cost. Price of premium tatkal tickets increase as the demand increases, especially towards the the end of the reservation period. If there is no demand, the price of the premium Tatkal would be comparable with the Tatkal fares.

Railways has their own mechanism of pricing based on the seasons' demand, unlike the predefined fares for other tickets. Sometimes you may end up in paying higher for a premium Tatkal ticket for a lower class, compared to a regular higher class ticket fares.

Reservation period for Premium Tatkal is same as regular Tatkal tickets. So are most of other rules. No cancellation (refund) once booked. And of course only confirmed tickets are booked under PT quota, means you cannot get a RAC/WL ticket under this scheme. There is no child fare or any other concession fares applicable. Everyone pays the same dynamic fare.

To book a ticket in premium tatkal quota, one has to select the premium tatkal option under the quotas options in IRCTC when booking. It can be booked only through online.

It is better to plan travel early than to book tickets at huge price than normal fare. But premium tatkal can be beneficial for passengers in emergency. Passengers can often find confirm tickets on trains in premium tatkal when all of the quotas are already booked.

Ladies Quota (LD)

ladies quota

Ladies Quota is the one under which only ladies travelling alone or with a child less than 12 years of age are eligible to book. In some trains, a total number of 6 berths are earmarked under ladies quota in Sleeper Class (SL) and Second Seating Class (2S) for ladies irrespective of age. There is no any additional charge for using this quota for females.

To book ticket under Ladies Quota , one has to select “Ladies” under Quota option on IRCTC. This option is available along with other options such as Tatkal, General etc. For booking at PRS counter one has to mention about this quota in the reservation form. Under this quota there is no prevalence of RAC/WL. So once six seats are booked, there is no chance to get any more seats. It is tough to get a seat in ladies quota as seat gets booked well before. If you're lucky there might be a chance that you get a seat in Ladies Quota when all other quotas are already full.

Lower Berth Quota (SS)

lower berth quota

Lower Berth quota is for male passengers of age 60 years and above and female passengers of age 45 years and above who can avail the facility to get confirmed lower berth in trains. But more than 2 tickets cannot be booked at a time in this quota, even if all the passengers are severally and jointly eligible for the same. The quota will be applicable only when an elderly person travels alone, or two passengers (of age as mentioned above) travel on a single ticket. After choosing the lower berth quota, if tickets are booked for three passengers then berths will be allotted under the general quota automatically.

Passengers can apply for this quota on IRCTC's main page while booking and select “Lower Berth” under the different options in the quota. Lower berths earmarked under senior citizen and women's quota in the respective classes by default will get allotted to them. If berths are already booked, they will be given berths under general quota.

Pregnant women are also eligible to avail this quota. Pregnant women will be required to submit a certificate by one registered Medical Practitioner at the time of booking against this quota and can be booked at PRS counters only.

There is also provision in the Passenger Reservation System (PRS), to automatically allot lower berths to Senior Citizens and female passengers of over 45 years of age.

The total number of seats earmarked for this quota are as follows:

Sleeper Class (SL)6 Lower Berths per Coach
Third AC (3A)3 Lower Berths per Coach
Second AC (2A)3 Lower Berths per Coach

However in case of Rajdhani, Duronto and fully AC express trains, this quota in 3AC class will be four lower berths per coach.

Concession for senior citizens:

senior citizen image

Apart from lower berth quota (that reserves some berths for such citizens) there is concession in fare for senior citizens which is called senior citizen concession. Indian Railways grant concession in the fares of all classes of Mail/Express/Rajdhani/Shatabdi and Duronto group of trains to Male Senior Citizens of minimum 60 years and Female Senior Citizen of minimum 58 years. The element of concession is 40% for men and 50% for women. While booking tickets on IRCTC on the passenger details form page, there is a checkbox button of senior citizen. After clicking on the box, one can avail the benefits of the senior citizen quota. If they travel single, system would automatically allot them lower berth if seats are vacant. Hence they would be eligible for both Lower Berth and Concession at the same time. If there are no seats vacant in lower berth quota then they would be placed in General quota but will get the senior citizen concession.

Also if one does not get lower berth even if they are eligible for it then they can apply to the Station Master/Charting Officer for the same. As lower berths which already got booked and then got cancelled last minute are released during charting only.

Don't confuse lower berth quota with senior citizen concession. Both are different and have different criterion to avail it as stated above.

Physically Handicapped Quota (HP) (Divyangjan Quota):

phyically handicapped quota

Divyangjan Quota formerly known as physically handicapped quota is meant for the physically challenged passengers. Earlier a reservation quota of two sleeper class berths was earmarked in all trains running for handicapped persons performing their journey on handicapped concession ticket. The person accompanying the handicapped person as escort was also allotted the berth out of this quota.

However according to the revised provisions there are 2 types of berths of physically challenged quota of 2 berths each, one lower and one middle, in the same cabin. One is for physically challenged persons who can utilize concession only when accompanied by an escort and the second is for those for whom it is optional to take an escort with them.

Also whenever a physically handicapped person books ticket on concession and if no berth is available in handicapped quota, the system will automatically try to allot the lower berth to the travelling passenger and middle berth to escort, subject to availability of the same at the time of booking.

To book ticket under Physically Handicapped Quota , one has to select “Divyangjan” under Quota option on IRCTC. This option is available along with other options such as Tatkal, General etc. At PRS, you will find the same quota as option.

Handicapped passengers need to carry Photo Identity card issued by Railways which is to be produced during the journey. Escort passengers also need to carry photo ID card(Aadhar, Voter ID etc).

Table below shows the concession admissible under this quota:

S.No.Category of PersonsPercentage of Concession
1. Orthopaedically Handicapped/ Paraplegic persons along with an escort (cannot travel without escort) traveling for any purpose
  • 75% in 2nd class, SL, 1st class, 3AC, AC chair car 50% in 1AC and 2 AC.
2. Mentally retarded persons who cannot travel without escort - for any purpose.
  • 25% in AC 3 tier & AC Chair Car of Rajdhani/Shatabdi trains.
  • 50% in Monthly Season Ticket & Quarterly Season Ticket.
3. Blind persons travelling alone or with an escort - for any purpose.
  • One escort is also eligible for same element of concession.
4. Deaf & Dumb persons (both afflictions together in the same person) travelling alone or with an escort - for any purpose.
  • 50% in Second, Sleeper and First Class.
  • 50% in Monthly Season Ticket & Quarterly Season Ticket.
  • One escort is also eligible for same element of concession.

At the time of preparation of reservation charts, the vacant lower berths under this quota can be released to physically handicapped passenger.

HO Quota/Emergency Quota (HO)

high official quota

HO Quota/Emergency quota is a discretionary quota by railways basically for berth allotment in emergency cases to high railway officials, ministers, MPs, MLA, Judges and other dignitaries. Seats in this quota are minimal and reviewed from time to time based on actual requirements.This quota can be used when the ticket is already booked in general and is in waiting list. Anyone who can prove the urgency of travel are eligible to get seats under this quota. But a fixed priority is followed. Common man can also apply for this quota but the chances are quite less because of low priority.

To apply for this quota one has to submit the application requesting to the Chief reservation supervisor with all the documents proving emergency case on the morning of the date of journey. Also the written requests for release of berths out of this quota must be signed by Gazetted Officer.

These applications are grouped together and sorted on the priorities and informed to the Divisional/Zonal Office or the Area Manager(AM). One can also send the application directly to the Divisional office. Seats are allotted with the approval of CCM or DRM. Depending on the persons of certain ranks and the discretion of officer in charge, these seats are allotted and released in the chart. If someone has good contacts in the railways division, then his chances of getting included in the priority list is more.


parliament house quota

Parliament House Quota is similar to that of HO Quota. This quota is meant for ministers and high bureaucrats as well as members of parliament and their staff. It's for them so that they can meet urgent travel requirements.

This quota is also released by Railway Authorities on different trains as per the rules. A list of all VIPs booked in the train (irrespective of journey commencing station) including HOR holders/Members of Parliament and other VIPs, is taken out at chart preparation centers of train originating stations to find out details of the VIPs including MPs booked and action will be taken by the in-charge to seek reservation for them from the emergency quota controlling authorities. The allotment of Emergency Quota to HOR Holders and VIPs should be strictly as per their inter-se seniority in Warrant of Precedence.

Whenever the Parliament House Booking Office/any other Booking Office sends a message for MP/VIP's onward and return journey, a copy should invariably be endorsed to CCM and ACM(Reservation)of the concerned Railway. This shall be in addition to the communication sent to the Chief Reservation Supervisor/SM concerned. The officer concerned in the Headquarters office will take necessary action to get the accommodation released in favour of the MPs/VIPs. However, the provision of taking out the list of VIPs booked in a train is strictly followed as per priorities.


defence quota

Defence Quota in Railways is intended for personels of Indian Armed Forces(Army, Navy, Airforce). Under this quota 2 seats are reserved in most of the trains in most of the classes across the country. Tickets can be booked under defence quota for official purposes such as relocation or movement of forces from one part of India to another. It can also be used by individual defence personnel while they are taking a trip back home or rejoining duty after their leave.

To book tickets under this quota, defence personnel has to approach the MCO (Movement Control Office) at station with a duly filled booking form and show their original Indian Armed Forces identity card. In case of bulk booking, a defence staff can approach the MCO with an attested letter by supervising officer, booking forms and photocopies of identity cards for all travelers. The booking or concession forms should be duly filled and signed by Supervising Officers as well as Railway issuing office.

Railway Board has authorized Zonal Railways to decide on earmarking the defence quota based on utilization. In case berth or seat reserved for defense personnel is not booked for journey, all these seats should be informed and surrendered before 24 hours of scheduled departure of train. All the unreserved berths under this quota will then be allowed to be used by civilians. Railways also reserve four seats in every coach for ex-army men.

Foreign Tourist Quota (FT)

foreign tourist quota

Foreign Tourist Quota is a a quota meant for the foreign tourists who visit India. Indian Railways proposed a separate quota for foreign tourists and NRIs in which small number of seats are kept reserved for those who hold valid tourist visa when they visit India. FTQ is also available to Indian Passport holders who can prove NRI status. The allocations are usually very small and do not necessarily apply to all classes of accommodation on a given train.

Foreign Tourist Quota passengers are allowed to book accommodations in Executive Class/First Class AC and Two-Tier AC coaches in all trains, including Shatabdi, Rajdhani, Duronto and Gatiman Express trains, for which the fares are uniformly charged at 1.5 times the base fare by the railways. In addition to this, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) collects enhanced service charge of ₹ 200 per ticket + GST.

But unlike domestic passengers for whom booking window opens 120 days in advance, foreign tourists can book tickets in FT quota upto 365 days in advance. Berth allocation in such cases are done when the booking period starts for the date of journey which is 120 days. Before that passenger can only reserve ticket and get themselves registered.

Almost 325 trains in India have FT quota allocation in AC classes. Passengers can book tickets under Foreign Tourist Quota online using the IRCTC website. Under Services tab on the website there is an option to choose Foreign Tourist Quota Booking. There are some reserved seats under this quota for some of the trains whose allocation is done per coach as following:

First AC (1A) 8 Berths(2 Cabins)
First AC (1A) cum Second AC (2A) 4 Berths(1 Cabins)
Second AC (2A) 8 Berths
Executive Class (EC) 10 Seats

To avail tickets under this quota users need to register themselves on irctc website using their international mobile number and valid email id. These details are used to verify user via OTP on mobile number and email id provided by the individual. Also it is necessary to enter passport number, international mobile number and nationality of a person. Payments are made using international debit or credit cards and SMS is sent to the registered mobile number at the time of reservation of the ticket.

For booking ticket offline there are International Tourist Bureaus at various locations in India. They provide assistance to foreign tourists and NRIs regarding bookings, enquiries, reservation and travel planning. They remain open from 6:00 to 23:00. All Payments are generally accepted in US Dollars, Pounds, Sterling, Euro and Indian Rupees here.

The passenger who has reserved the ticket under this category has to carry the original Passport whose details have been given at the time of booking ticket, along with valid visa as identity proof and make it available for check during the journey failing which, the passenger is treated as without ticket and charged penalty equivalent to 3 times the fare of the ticket.


duty pass quota

Duty Pass Quota is also one of the railway quotas which is meant for railway staff on duty. All those railway staffs that need to travel in trains to perform their duty have a duty pass through which they can board the trains. A limited number of berths have been earmarked in Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto Express Trains in all classes and in air-conditioned class of Jan Shatabdi Express Trains as Duty Pass Quota against which serving/retired railway employees can book seat against Duty/Privilege/Post Retirement Complimentary passes. In these trains, booking of passengers who hold complimentary passes is also done against the Duty Pass Quota. This restriction is not applicable to other Mail/Express Trains.

This quota can be used by any railway pass holder such as duty, privilege, complimentary etc. Tickets booked using this quota will have separate waiting list i.e,DPWL like other quotas and unlike GNWL.

There are various types of passes based on the positions of the railway officers such as Gold Pass, silver pass, bronze pass, card pass, cheque pass.

The maximum number of berths/seats which can be booked in a train per trip will be as under:

Gold Pass
2 berths in 1AC
4 berths in AC Sleeper
Silver Pass
1 berths in 1AC
4 berths in 2AC and 3AC
Bronze Pass
4 berths in 2AC and 3AC

Different Zones of Railways have different provisions and the seats earmarking depends on them accordingly. At the time of booking tickets in this quota, only wait listed ticket are issued and the berths are confirmed at the time of release of Emergency Quota, on receipt of request keeping in view the priorities of various officers/urgency of travel etc.

The seats reserved for this purpose if remain vacant till the time of chart preparation, then they are released for the RAC/Waitlisted passengers.


yuva quota

Yuva quota is basically a quota for unemployed persons in the age group of 18 to 45 years. Yuva quota is applicable for Yuva Trains only. Ten percent(10%) seats of the train are reserved for students, low-income groups & people belonging to the age group of 18 - 45 yrs. Unemployed Yuva are eligible to get concessional fares.

To avail this facility, a traveller must have an age/income proof certificate. The applicant also has to submit certificate issued under specified schemes:

  1. Certificate issued under National Rural Employment Guarantee(NREGA).
  2. Registration card, the validity period of which has not expired, issued by a Government run Employment Exchange.

A copy of the documents is required to be produced while booking and a second set must be carried during travel for verification by the ticket checking staff.

The quota is applicable in only Yuva Trains. There are only two Yuva Trains in Indian Railways.

So, these are all the major quotas which have been derived from the large number of seats in the trains. The concept of quotas is also one of the major reasons of why Indian Railways does not allow passengers to choose seats on their own. Anyone falling under these quotas can apply for their relevant quota and stand a chance to get confirm ticket rather than remaining in waiting lists.