I was often troubled to find relevant information on about trains and availability on Indian Railways website. The UI is unintuitive and there are no useful features over the basic functionality. So, I had made a switch to ERail website, an outstanding effort by an Indian geek to bring some relief to the traveller. But his problems were as big as Railways itself. One, there is no real-time updating mechanism for trains and schedule. Then, it was also considered “illegal” by Railways to run such a site! (Just do a simple availability search on ERail site to see the warning marquee).
It seems that IRCTC is finally serving information about reservation to a third party system. It just came across an advertisement in TOI which said you can now book Indian Railway tickets online through Thomas Cook’s Indian website.
Though these are still early days before they actually open the APIs for Indian Railways’ site. But still a big step forward in that direction.