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Different types of waiting list codes (quotas) in Indian Railways

Anyone who has traveled by Indian railways and has bought a railway ticket must be familiar with the word "Waiting list" abbreviated as WL in a railway ticket. But if you have noticed carefully, there are some additional codes also mentioned before WL like GNWL, PQWL etc. So what do these special codes mean in the railway context?


For the benefit of those who are not aware, a waiting list is the booking status provided in an Indian railway ticket to those passengers who fail to get confirmed seats/berths. When all the seats/berths in a train get occupied, after a few RAC seats, waiting list (WL) queues start. Any long distance train will have a large number of intermediate stations which may be boarding and alighting points for the passengers. So railways need to provide a booking quota for almost all the stations in the route. Same is true with the waiting list quota and hence railways provide different types of waiting list quotas for different stations or groups of stations in the route. Hence it is common to see different waiting list codes in a railway ticket like GNWL, PQWL, RLWL, TQWL etc.
Here, we will try to understand the meaning and interpretation of each of such waiting list quotas. Not going into depth of each and every possible waiting list quota, I will just elaborate on four of the major waiting list quotas which are generally very common to encounter.

Major waiting list quotas in Indian Railways

  • General waiting list (GNWL) – This is the most popular of the WL quota and it also has the largest number of seats available when compared to any other quota. This WL quota is assigned to the passengers booking their tickets from the source to the destination station or from the source to some other station which is very near to the destination station. Passengers booking tickets from some station near to the source station to the destination station will also get booking under GNWL. For example, waitlisted tickets for such passengers will read as GNWL 6/4. This WL quota has a concept of RAC. So if there are cancellations, your ticket will pass from WL to RAC and then to the confirmed status. For example for the train starting from Mumbai and terminating at Chennai Central, journey booked from Mumbai to Chennai Central will come under GNWL since they are the source and the terminating stations. Similarly, stations near Mumbai like Kalyan Jn and stations near Chennai like Perambur Jn will also fall under GNWL.

  • Pooled quota waiting list (PQWL) – This WL quota is not allocated between two particular stations but it is shared between a group of smaller stations in the route. So the people booking tickets from those smaller stations will get booking under PQWL. For example, when you get waiting list under this quota, it will be written on your ticket as PQWL 3/1. These stations under PQWL are smaller towns and less important stations along the route. Seats/Berths under this quota are less compared to GNWL. Each train generally has one common PQWL quota for the groups of smaller stations in its route. Contrary to the GNWL, this WL quota does not have a concept of RAC, so tickets can get confirmed directly from the waiting list. For example for train starting from Mumbai and terminating at Chennai Central journey booked from Lonavala will fall under PQWL. Same holds true with journey booked till Arakkonam Jn.

  • Remote location waiting list (RLWL) – All the important stations in the route of the train which are generally big and popular towns or cities but are not the origin and the terminating stations come under this WL quota. Each such town or city along the route will have its own RLWL quota and it is not shared by any other stations. Passengers booking the waitlisted tickets from these towns or cities will get booking under the respective RLWL quota for that particular location. For example, in this case, your ticket will have WL number as RLWL 4/3. The number of seats under this quota is less than GNWL but tends to be more than PQWL. Similar to the GNWL, this WL quota has also a concept of RAC. One important aspect of this quota is that for the stations under this quota, separate reservation chart is prepared 3 to 4 hours before scheduled departure of the train. For example for the train starting from Mumbai and terminating at Chennai Central journey booked from the bigger stations on the route like Pune Jn and Solapur Jn will fall under RLWL.

  • Tatkal waiting list (TQWL) – We are all aware of the Tatkal quota in Indian railways which opens only one day before the scheduled departure of the train. This quota allows us to book the tickets on an urgent basis at a premium cost. So if you get a waiting list while booking the tatkal tickets you will come under TQWL. So this is the WL quota allocated towards the tatkal ticket booking. For example, in this case, WL on your ticket will read as TQWL 2/1. TQWL quota is common for the entire train and there is no distinction here based on the source and terminating station of the ticket. The number of seats in this quota is generally very small compared to the GNWL quota. This quota also does not have a concept of RAC, so if your ticket is TQWL 1 it will go directly from TQWL 1 to the confirmed status without crossing the RAC status. Within the TQWL there is no demarcation based on the station from where the ticket is booked.

So I hope next time when you see the different waiting list quotas in your railway ticket you will be in better position to relate the significance of each of them and how they are allocated.

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Author: Venkiteswaran17 Dec 2017 Member Level: Gold   Points : 5

I usually wonder how fast the confirmed tickets get full. In almost all the journeys I had made, even when the tickets are tried at the earliest permissible day for reservation, I had experienced that I end up as WL only. In some trains I had got only PQWL. I had also lost money or suffered tension until last minute by booking in Tatkal.

Unless and until you are in RAC or GNWL there is very less chance of getting confirmation. The trick Indian Railways have used is to earmark a very large number of seats under Tatkal. Tatkal waiting list is another trap. Mostly there will not be any upward movement of tatkal WL because cancellation in Tatkal WL will end up losing all money. So people will not cancel. If Tatkal WL is not confirmed, it gets canceled on chart preparation and you have only a paper in hand. You cannot travel even in unreserved compartments as you will be treated as a ticketless traveler. But with a general waitlisted ticket you can enter in an unreserved compartment as you have a ticket on hand.

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