Insights into simplifying train travel

Decoding senior citizens seat allocation norms

Many a times while trying to book lower berths for your aged parents, you are met with utter despair. It makes you question the point of having a special seat allocation quota for the senior citizens. But what if we tell you, there are many unstated rules that keep you away from booking lower berths for your parents. So, let us tell you about these unknown rules.

How many lower berth seats are allocated for senior citizens?

Senior Citizens quota


Everyone knows that lower berth seats are kept specially earmarked for senior citizens. But this is only half of the rule and no one mentions the limitations of this quota.

Senior Citizens Quota for Lower Berths: “There are six lower berths reserved in each coach for senior citizens.”

Let us explain (for the convenience of your understanding, we would use Sleeper coaches as our reference):

  • Total Number of Sleeper Coaches: On a general level any express train has 12 Sleeper coaches.
  • Total Number of Seats: There are 72 seats in each of the 12 Sleeper coaches, making the total number of available seats 864 (72X12)
  • Number of Lower Berths in a Coach: Each row in a compartment has 3 lower berths which makes the total lower berths in a coach number 24 (72 ÷3).
  • Total Lower Berth Seats in Sleeper Class: As there are 12 sleeper coaches and in each of them there are 24 lower berths, so the total lower berth coaches in sleeper class are 288 (24X12).
  • Lower Berth Seats available for Senior Citizens: As per the quota regulation, each of the coaches has two seats for senior citizens which makes the total available lower berths at 72 (6X12).

Why only one lower berth is allocated even when booking is sought for multiple senior citizens?

This is again due to the extension of the above mentioned regulation. As there are only a small number of lower berth seats for senior citizens, so only a single lower berth is allocated against a booking form, no matter how many senior citizens may be mentioned in it. Let us explain, you are booking tickets for three people (72 year old male, 65 year old female and again another 61 year old male) using a single form, you will be allocated only one lower berth seat, where ideally the first senior citizen will get the lower berth. The rest will be allocated Middle or Upper berths.

How to bypass this regulation and get multiple lower berth seats for senior citizens?

You can book tickets using separate forms to get assured lower berth seats. So, you need to fill in individual forms and book for each person. Ticket booking agents ideally use this ploy to assure lower berth seats, when they book for multiple senior citizens.

What are the problems of this process?

Senior Citizens and train quotas


Ideally Indian Railways tries to accommodate passengers booked through the same form in nearby berths. However, when you are booking tickets filling multiple forms, the seats may be scattered across different coaches. Again, though you have the lower berths but senior citizens face many problems when they have to travel in isolation.

Why are lower berth seats not kept vacant for only senior citizens?

Many of you would definitely have this thought on your mind. But speaking in layman’s terms, lower berths are not kept empty for the following reasons:

  • There are lower berth quotas for handicapped, pregnant women and woman travelling alone too. So, these quotas have to be fulfilled as well.
  • There is no guarantee that on all days across the year, there will be a fixed number of senior citizens travelling.

Why it is technically impossible to keep the lower berths vacant?

Indian Railways makes passengers’ safety their first priority. When something moves on rails, balance and equivalent weight distribution is very important. To assure uniform passenger distribution (thus weight distribution), the booking software fills berths from middle seats (ideally 36) and moves towards the gates (i.e. 1-2 or 71-72). The booking follows an order from lower to upper berth.

Hope, we have been able to answer some of the questions you had about lower seat allocation for senior citizens. If you have any thoughts, please write to us.


ALSO READ: Unknown RAC Rules, Tatkal booking tips

12 thoughts on “Decoding senior citizens seat allocation norms

  1. Srinivasan

    The quota has been revised from two to four for coaches as communicated some time ago by the present railway minister.

  2. jaipal sharma

    Kindly let me know how to book lower berth quota for senior citizens while using IRCTC web it doesnot show any such information.

  3. Sourav Das

    I tried to book for six persons including two senior citizens, my dad (83) and mom (67). Allotted 34,35,37,38,40 and 42 of S6. SRCTZNs are allotted 40(SU) and 42(M). The booking was made on the opening day at 08:03:27hrs. As I desperately needed an LB for my mom, I tried again for her 20 minutes later, without mentioning coach no. or ladies quota. With all my surprise she was allotted 33(LB) of the S6! Is there any logic at all? (train no.13005)


    Earlier while booking tickets 120 days in advance,I used to give berth preference as side lower (for my wife 65 yrs old) and side upper (for me 72 yrs old) and I got berths as requested. But nowadays, though I mention the preference as above,I get 2 upper berths (this is due to new rule that 2 senior citizens travelling together will not be allotted 2 lower berths). Is there any way to get side lower and side upper?

  5. A K Malhotra

    I don’t know who have agreed as the information provided is useful. It may be as per railway but the logic explained are totally baseless especially one of weight distribution. I can prove it. When Railway do not bother about age, how can it bother about weight. I had suggested berth allotment logic to Railways but not acknowledged even. In fact the businesses of railway go on even if any number keep on shouting. In India we operate on the principles of karna hai to karo nahin to bhaad mein jao.


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