Booking tickets well beforehand of the date of journey is called reservation. By any event if you are forced to cancel the fore-made reservation then you can do it online through the IRCTC site and for this a cancellation charge is levied. This cancellation charge will be in the form of percentage (i.e.) if you make the reservation cancellation, a day before the date of journey up to 4 hrs then minimal rates only apply. But if it is less than 4hrs 25% of the ticket amount will be deducted and the rest will reach your account within a week if you cancel the ticket after the train leaves destination then flat 50% deduction will be made. So avoid cancellation at the last minute unless something urgent or untoward happens.
Railway tickets can be booked three months before the date of journey. Due to the unavailability of tickets and festival rush people book the tickets long before the date of journey and this is the root cause for cancellations. As there is always a possibility of some or other work arising as the journey date nears booking tickets without fore-seeing the works that lie ahead will lead to such a situation. In such a position the passengers will be left with no other option but to cancel the planned journey or ticket.
Cancellations rarely affect the railways as there are passengers queuing for the tickets all round the day be it on any given day most of the trains will be full. Moreover last minute cancellations are a boon for passengers who are in dire need for tickets and there are people who wait for tickets keeping this cancellation phenomenon in mind. The reason for such a demand is clear, as train journeys are comfortable and quick and for many people long distance bus journeys are allergic and they get sick when they reach the destination. This is mainly to the bumps and jumps during the travel but train journeys are bump-free as they run only on tracks and this offers the passengers a smooth and trouble free travel. Added to this it provides facilities like food on call and restroom at inches away from your seat, you cannot ask for more.
Such facilities make the railways an inevitable option in the minds of the travellers and this is the reason for its successful run in India for years together. The Indian Railways will continue to provide excellent services by improving its standards.