There are several quotas from which a railway allots tickets to people. PQWL stands for Pooled Quota Waiting List, is one such quota. In order to understand what it means, one must understand the meaning of 'Pooled Quota', since meaning of 'waiting list' is already cleared in the article which explains about meaning of GNWL on railway ticket.

pqwl ticket status

For the entire route of train, the railway keeps aside certain number of seats for each station that falls on the route. For important stations there is a specific quota from which seats are allocated to the people. But for certain less important stations, depending on how railway rates them, it forms a pool of which stations are members. This  group of stations share certain number of seats among them. The number of seats or tickets, that can be shared by these less important or one may say small stations, is called Pooled Quota (PQ).

When someone tries to book a train ticket, where the source station of journey falls among one of the station's which is a member of 'pool quota', the computerized passenger reservation system of railway tries to see if seat is available within this quota. If no accommodation is available, the system queues up the ticket into a 'waiting list', Since this waiting list is for a station who is one of the member's of pooled stations, it is called Pooled Quota Waiting List (PQWL).

It is shared by several small stations in a particular region. E.g., Tiruppur, Salem, etc., share in the quota and wait list for some trains originating from Trivandrum or Mangalore. As another example, the 2723 Andhra Pradesh Exp. has three quotas, for Secunderabad - New Delhi, Secunderabad - nagpur, and Secunderabad - Bhopal. There is also a pooled quota for passengers travelling from Secunderabad to stations beyond Bhopal but short of Jhansi. If this quota is exhausted, a passenger is placed in the pooled quota waiting list. Pooled Quotas normally operate only from the originating station of a route, and there is only one Pooled Quota for the entire run. The Pooled Quota is intended to be utilized by passengers travelling from the originating station to a station short of the terminating station, or from an intermediate station to the terminating station, or between two intermediate stations.
There are relatively minor stations, at least as far as that particular train is concerned. For eg. if you were to book a ticket from Bangalore(SBC) to Rajamundry(RJY) on the Guwahati Express (2509), then you would get tickets assigned from the Pooled Quota.

One has to say that there is very less chance of confirmation of  tickets having PQWL printed on them.

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