90di travel search blog

Train fare and availability improvement

This is Kiran from 90DI team.

I just want to describe the change in our approach to get the train fare and availability. Which also means a slightly more reliable way of searching for trains, with regard to berth/seat availability.

Earlier, our approach at 90DI was to get the fare and availability of train/flight for all the routes upfront. And this fare and availability was got for those classes which were selected during the search.

We noticed that the train traveler is not too happy with this approach. As availability data for lots of legs did not use to come (because of some problems at the service provider end) and so by default those legs would disappear. It was causing people to think that there is no valid route (with availability). Although in actuality there would have been a valid train route with seats available.

So we have changed our approach for trains. Now we display all the trains along with their available classes and fare for each of those classes. And we don’t get the availability data upfront. You need to click on the “get availability” link against each train route/leg to get the availability for that train route-leg and for the selected class.

This approach allows the user to retry yo get train availability multiple times, till the availability comes. Also it offers better usability by allowing the user to change the travel class and try the availability for that class.

Hope this approach suits the train traveler to search the trains in a easier way.

Please do let us know how you find the change. We are all ears on what you say.

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10 Responses to “Train fare and availability improvement”

  1. Manish Says:

    Most of the train travelers want 0 transit options with availability. This was the main reason for me to look at your site (to get to know the trains with availability).

    now when its removed, I don’t see any reason why should i look at the website, because getting the list of trains between two stations is available on indianrail.gov.in or irctc.co.in.
    I think you should give an option to automatically get the availability, like earlier version.

  2. khushnood Says:

    Hi Manish,
    Thanks for giving your feedback. We will definitely try to see if we can do something to address that. Let me first elaborate on the problem:

    The problem with getting availability for all the legs was that many of the legs use to fail, because of some dara error at the service provider end. The user may not know this and think that there are no available (or less) legs. Which would create an incorrect impression of the no. of seats available. So this seems a much better approach to us, until we can reliably get the availability data.

    Also it allows you to change the travel class there itself if some leg is unavailable.

    Just also wanted to highlight, some other benefits of using 90di.com for travel search:
    – That we show connecting trains which the railway websites themselves don’t show
    – The connection with flights is also liked by lots of users.
    – We think its still simpler to search for trains here than the other sites.

    But your point is noted. We will try and do something to address that also soon.

  3. Kiran Says:

    Hi Manish,

    I would like to add to what Khushnood Naqvi said.

    You can get the availability for more than one trains at a time.
    Once you click on the “Get Availability” link, you don’t need to wait till the availability comes. You can click on “Get Availability” for all those trains for which you need the availability information at once.

  4. steven ber Says:

    Hello Khushnood

    I agree with your reasons for changing the availability info, I can see how it would confuse people, but the older system had it’s advantages for those who understand how the railways work, perhaps you could add a button that a member could ‘check’ (tick) that allowed the user to use the old way of searching, I’m not sure this would work though.

    I just done a quick search to see if 90DI showed passenger trains (with bookable classes), so I searched for Diva – Ratnagiri and was surprised to see that Diva wasn’t recognised as a station (I was even more surprised to find the same thing happened on the Indian Railways website), so I then tried Panvel – Ratnagiri and was very shocked to find Panvel wasn’t recognised (it is on IR’s website), I then tried Mumbai – Ratnagiri and the passenger train was listed (as starting from Diva).

    Do you choose the stations you add to the website’s search engine, or do you have a system that automatically picks up stations from the IR website?

    Just tried Deshnok to Falna and this worked fine, so really confused about Panvel.

    One worrying thing about the Mumbai – Ratnagiri search, some of the trains on the first page showed a train to Thane, then change for a train from Thane (that started from Mumbai), whilst factually correct, the availability is no different from Thane (than it is from Mumbai), so the purpose must just be to show more options, and in this case, not helpful options.

    I noticed some airline search websites do the same, listing 50 options when only a few are viable, surely this slows the server and may confuse users.

  5. Vijairaj Says:

    I suggest that you search all the availability by default and also provide the option to search again for individual routes. i.e. A mixture of the older method and this new one.

  6. khushnood Says:

    @steven ber

    Hello Steve,
    Thanks for providing such elaborate feedback – also by trying out so many searches.

    My responses below:

    1) On fetching Availability:
    Yes, checking on various routes and then doing a get all, should be a good idea. Specially when you want to get the availability for failed requests the next time. The first time though the current one is better as you can just click on several routes simultaneously and it will fetch in parallel. Saves one click. 🙂

    2) On Diva – Ratnagiri search ans station/places list:
    Actually this is a UI/usability confusion, which other people also have had. By default we show only the place names which has one or more Railway stations. So Diva stn does not show up as its mapped to the nearby big place. But if you click on the “Click to specify Station/Airport” link above the from text field. Then Diva (stn code DIVA) starts to show up as you type DIV…
    May be we should make that more prominent … let us know if you have any thoughts on making it more usable.
    I did the search on Diva – Ratnagiri and found the trains.

    3) On stn list:
    We try to get all the stations in India. If we are missing some ones, then its a bug.

    4) Panvel – Ratnagiri:
    Same case as Diva. Please click on the “Click to specify Station/Airport” link, and you will see it. I could see some trains there too.

    5) Mumbai – Ratnagiri search showing up Thane:
    Actually, we never try to deliberately add routes to increase the numbers. The rationale behind leaving – and not filtering out – such routes was that in case some body can not get a reservation from start to finish in the same train. But join that train at some intermediate station, then it could be helpful.

    An example would be a train from Bangalore to Delhi, in which for the entire distance you can’t get the reservation, but you can get it from Nagpur.

    But I agree, in some cases it can end up showing some funny routes. There we think the filters e.g. the transit filter, where some body can set it for direct trains only. Also the sorting links at the top, should help eliminate those.

    We have been trying to improve on it though. This point is also noted.

  7. kiran Says:

    Hello Steve,

    We have addressed the 2nd point (Stations Diva and Panvel not getting listed on 90DI) in our current release. Now, by default we list all the cities and unmapped stations/airports(We map the near by railway stations/airports to a city). But you can also change it to list only the stations/airports or only the cities also.

  8. Sankar Says:

    Hello Kiran,
    One thing i found here is that,For Availability checking we need to click on the GetAVailability link,Why dont u provide directly SL as default,This is what my suggestion.

  9. kiran Says:

    Hi Sankar,

    We appreciate your suggestion.

    Earlier we were showing the availability for all trains by default. We disabled this feature because availability data for lots of train legs did not use to come (because of some problems at the service provider end) and so by default those legs would disappear. Which causes lots of confusion to the end user.

    Now we get the availability for only those trains for which the user is interested in. Anyway you can get the availability of more than one trains in parallel. You can just click on more than one “Get Availability” links simultaneously, and so the availability would come in parallel.

    And we are continuously trying to make it much better.

  10. Nikesh Says:

    I would agree with some of them.But nowadays all things are avaliable at the fingertip on Indian railway sites.

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