Indian Railways

Lower Berth Quota for Senior Citizens: Rules and Allotment

Indian Railways is the 4th largest railway network in the world. It handles an extremely large number of seat and berth reservations on a daily basis. To make journey comfortable and hassle-free for all types of passengers, Indian Railways has devised several different types of quotas or reservations in trains. There are 19 different types of quotas available in Indian Railways including General, Ladies, Defense, Parliament, Tatkal, Premium tatkal, Senior citizen, physically handicapped, etc. Know all about lower berth quota in trains and how to use it to get confirmed lower berth seats. Check the PNR status of your ticket to plan your journey in a more efficient and better way.

What is Lower Berth Quota?
Frequent travelers in Indian Railways must be aware of the following situation:
You get confirmed reservation on one of the lower berths. Then a senior citizen comes and requests you to exchange your seat with a middle / upper berth seat. It’s not uncommon to see young people exchanging their seats with pregnant women, old ladies, and senior citizens for their convenience. To address this issue, Indian Railways has devised SS quota or commonly known as lower berth quota in trains. Since elder people face difficulty while climbing onto middle or upper berths, Indian Railways has provided them with the facility to book tickets for lower berths in a train.

Who Can Avail Senior Citizen Quota?
Indian Railways has made it easy for some passengers to get lower berth seats. The reserved quota is applicable for following types of passengers:

  1. Senior citizens both for males (60 years of age and above) and females (58 years of age and above).
  2. Two passengers (above mentioned criteria) traveling on one ticket (traveling on the same PNR number).
  3. Female passengers of age 45 and above travelling alone.
  4. Pregnant female travelers. For pregnant women traveling alone under lower berth quota or senior citizen quota of IRCTC, reservations are available only from booking counters / reservation offices. They have to show a medical certificate to avail this facility.

Lower Berth Quota Rules
Looking for lower berth senior citizen quota rules?
Puzzled on how to book tickets under lower berth quota in IRCTC?
We have it all covered. There are certain rules and regulations which you must know before you avail the benefits of lower berth quota in trains:

  1. Lower berth quota is for male passengers 60 years of age and above and female passengers 45 years of age and above. Those who satisfy the above conditions can make use of this facility to get confirmed lower berth in trains. But in this quota, more than 2 tickets cannot be booked at a time, even though all the passengers are eligible for the same separately and together. The reservation is only valid if an elderly person is traveling alone or if two passengers (of the age listed above) travel on a single PNR. If tickets are booked for three passengers under lower berth quota, then seats are automatically allocated under the general quota of IRCTC.
  2. Passengers can apply for this quota on the main page of IRCTC while booking, and pick “Lower Berth / Sr. Citizen” under the various quota options. They will be assigned lower berths under senior citizen / lower berth quota and women’s quota in the respective groups by rule. When berths are booked already, they are granted berths under general quota.
  3. Pregnant women may also take advantage of this quota. Pregnant women will be expected to submit a certificate by one licensed medical practitioner at the time of booking against this quota and can only be booked at Indian Railways Booking counters / PRS counters.
  4. 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.
  • Sleeper Class (SL):6 lower berths per coach
  • Third AC (3A):3 lower berths per coach*
  • Second AC (2A):3 lower berths per coach

*In case of Rajdhani, Duronto and fully AC express trains, this SS quota in 3AC class will be four lower berths per coach. We hope you are now fully familiar with new rules for lower berth quota in Indian Railways.

Concessions Available Under Lower Berth Quota
Indian Railways offer concessions to male senior citizens of at least 60 years of age and female senior citizens of at least 58 years in all groups of Mail / Express / Rajdhani / Shatabdi and Duronto category of trains. The concession granted under lower berth quota is:
Men: 40 percent of the total fare
Women: 50 percent of the total fare

Know more about different types of concessions in Indian Railways and plan your journey in a better way.

How to Book Tickets under Lower Berth Quota?
There are two ways you can avail lower berth quota facility for senior citizens in trains.

  1. If you are booking a train ticket through IRCTC app or website, then at the time of booking, select quota as LOWER BERTH / SR. CITIZEN present at the top right of booking page. Then proceed to fill the details of passengers. If the details of any of the passengers do not match with conditions necessary to avail lower berth quota in trains, then the ticket automatically gets booked through General quota. If you are a pregnant woman wanting to get a lower berth seat through SS quota, remember to carry medical certificate from a certified medical practitioner.
  2. If you are booking a train ticket through one of the PRS counters of Indian Railways, fill the standard reservation/cancellation requisition form. You will get several check boxes in that form. If you are a senior citizen wanting to avail the benefits of lower berth quota, then write YES in the box next to the option that says” If you want Sr. Citizen Concession, please write Yes/No in the box”.

Things You Should Know about SS Quota in Indian Railways

  1. Only one lower berth is allocated for one PNR
    As per the rules and regulations for SS quota in Indian Railways, when we try to book multiple tickets for senior citizens, only one lower berth is allocated. This is due to the fact that each sleeper and AC coach has a fixed number of lower berths reserved for senior citizens. But there is a trick to bypass this restriction. If you want to get multiple lower berths for senior citizens, fill separate forms for each booking. You would be surprised to know that railway ticket agents use this trick to get you confirmed lower berth tickets. But there is a problem associated with this trick. Indian Railways has made its booking software in such a way that passengers who book tickets through the same form generally get nearby seats. So if you fill separate forms to book individual tickets for each passenger, then there is a great chance that seats will be allocated in different coaches.
  2. You don’t get confirmed lower berths every time
    If we calculate the total number of lower berth seats reserved for senior citizens, then we can understand that getting lower berth seats is not that easy. A normal express / superfast train has 12 Sleeper coaches. Each coach has 72 seats of which 24 are lower berths. So, there are a total of 288 lower berth seats available in Sleeper classes of a train. But as per the rules and regulations, there are only 6 seats reserved for senior citizens in each coach. So, the total number of lower berth seats available to senior citizens comes down to only 72. Now, you can understand why getting lower berth seats are difficult. Book tickets well in advance to get confirmed seats in trains.
  3. Lower berth seats are not left vacant
    Why doesn’t Indian Railways allocate all lower berth seats to senior citizens under SS quota of trains? If you also have this question in your mind, then we have the answer. There is a simple answer to this question. Some lower berth seats are also allocated to handicapped people, pregnant women, and ladies who are travelling alone. It’s not guaranteed that on a given day there are so many senior citizens travelling. It is very much possible that some of those seats will never be filled if all the lower berths are allocated to senior citizens only. There is also a technical answer to this question. To ensure smooth running of a train, uniform weight distribution is a crucial thing. The booking software of Indian Railways is programmed in a way that it starts filling berths from middle seats (ideally 36) and shifts towards the gates (i.e. 1-2 or 71-72) to ensure a uniform distribution of passengers (thus weight distribution). The booking is based on an order from the lower to the upper berth. Thus, lower berths can’t be left vacant.

Recommended Read: Everything you need to know about Railway Ticket Agents

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Author: Rohit Choubey


Rohit is an avid blogger as well an eminent digital marketeer. He has immense passion towards food blogging. His hobbies include travelling, cooking and watching movies. He is the content analyst for RailMitra.