Train in India

Indian Railways

Indian Railways continues to serve as the lifeline of the country to travel from one city to the other, be it a small town, a lesser-known district or a big city. Operated and managed by the Ministry of Railways, it is dubbed the fourth largest rail network in the world clocking a distance of 121,407 kilometres of total track. A network that runs over 9200 trains everyday, carrying over 20,000 passengers, Indian Railway is the most budget-friendly means of transport that majority of the country relies upon to this day. As per statistics of 2018, our railways have carried over 8 billion passengers including transporting freight worth 1.16 billion tonnes.

History of Indian Railways

Did you know that the first ever proposal for setting up of a railway track was made in Madras in 1832. And this first train called Red Hill Railway constructed by Arthur Cotton was used to carry granite for road construction. But it was in 1853 in Mumbai that the first passenger train was flagged off with 400 people aboard in 14 carriages and dragged by three steam locomotives between Bori Bunder and Thane. It was again in Bombay that India’s first railway bridge was built over the Ulhas River when this Bombay to Thane line was stretched all the way to Kalyan in 1854. The evolution of the present-day Indian train, the addition of the Shatabdi Express in 1988 between New Delhi and Jhansi, and the introduction of the first self-printing ticket machine in New Delhi, to the air-conditioned 3-tier coaches and a sleeper class in 1993, sums up the Indian Railways journey.

How to make an online railway booking

If you have decided on the destination you wish to travel to, you need to hop on to the IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd.) website and check train ticket availability. On the IRCTC home page, you have a search box asking for your starting and onward destination, the dates of your travel, and your preferred class of travel, from AC First Class, Executive Chair Car, AC 2 Tier, AC 3 Tier, AC 3 Economy et al, and search trains. This will throw up a list of trains to meet your criteria, and their availability and tariff. You can further narrow down your search and zero in on the train of your choice.

The concept of Tatkal booking

A programme set up by the Indian Railways in which you can make an attempt to book your tickets even on a short notice, and such a booking can be made both online, and straight off a railway counter. The Tatkal scheme is applicable to all trains and reserved classes in India. Typically a Tatkal booking begins a day ahead of the travel date. Here are some ready tips on how to make a train ticket booking on Tatkal.

1. The booking online and offline opens at 10.00 am on the day ahead of the journey for air-conditioned coaches, and at 11 am for sleeper coaches.
2. Your day of travel is established as the day the chart is prepared.
3. An entire train is never defined as a Tatkal train.
4. All unsold Tatkal tickets are sold to passengers of a wait-list.
5. Now, if you cancel a confirmed of Tatkal ticket, don’t expect any refund on the same. However, Tatkal tickets on a wait-list can be cancelled, and you can even claim a refund.

Quick trivia

Did you know that with about 1.4 million employees, Indian Railways is the world’s eighth-largest employer?

Different train types

Before you book your train ticket, you need to apprise yourself of the different types of trains under Indian Railways banner. Tejas Express, Gatimaan Express, Shatabdi Express, Rajdhani Express, Duronto Express, Humsafar Express, AC Express, Double Decker Express, Uday Express, Garib Rath, Yuva Express, Jan Shatabdi Express, Sampark Kranti Express, Kavi Guru Express, Vivek Express, Rajya Rani Express, Mahanama Express, Intercity Express, Antyodaya Express, Jan Sadharan Express, Premium Express, Superfast Mail, and a whole section of fast passenger trains, suburban trains, metro, luxury trains and mountain railways.

Luxury trains that put India on the tourism map

The Palace on Wheels promotes tourism in Rajasthan by doing a round-trip from New Delhi via Jaipur and covers Sawai Madhopur, Chittorgarh, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bharatpur, and Agra. Royal Rajasthan on Wheels too caters to several such destinations in Rajasthan including Khajuraho and Varanasi. The Maharajas’ Express again takes you to destinations in central India including parts of Rajasthan. While aboard the Deccan Odyssey you can explore the lush Konkan belt by exploring destinations in Maharashtra and Goa.

Let’s take a look at some FAQs.

# How do I book my railway ticket online?

Log on to the IRCTC website using your login and password. Hit ‘book ticket’ and fill up your travel details. Further pick the train of your choice and continue your booking. Then add the number of passengers, and confirm your booking. You will land up on the payment gateway.

# How do I know my train platform number?

For any train enquiry related to the platform number, go to the ‘train platform enquiry’ tab on the IRCTC website to the top left-hand corner. Then enter the train number and the railway station name. Further click on ‘submit’, and you will have the necessary details.

# What is the Railway Enquiry Number?

For any kind of query you may have about an Indian Railways booking, you can call up 139. You can find out about PNR status, correct arrival and departure time of trains, train seat availability, including berths in various trains, and not to mention, train fares of different classes. Alternatively, you can inquire through an SMS to the same number, and get your required updates. However, you have to first type your PNR, and then punch the PNR number of 10-digits after giving a space before sending out the SMS.

# How do I check my train arrival time?

You can check the same on, by going into the live train status. Here you need to enter the train number or name, and select on what day the train commenced its journey. Then click ‘check status’.

# What is railway TDR?

TDR translates into Ticket Deposit Receipt. E-tickets don’t have any TDRs. To file a TDR for tickets booked on IRCTC, you need to first login to your account, and go into ‘booked ticket history’. Check the list of tickets whose journey date has expired. Pick the PNR for which you wish to file the TDR, and hit ‘file TDR’. Fetch the passenger name from the ticket details and claim your TDR refund. The refund process takes approx 60 days.

# What is PQWL?

Meaning Pooled Quota Waiting List, and this is typically when your travel starts from any intermediate station to the final destination, or origin station to one of the intermediate stations. For instance, the PQWL is 30, and in the wait-list the count is 24. Either the PQWL stays as is, or WL24 changes owing to some passenger cancellation. This could lead to you either falling in the RAC (Reservation Against Cancellation) category, or landing a confirmed ticket.

# How can I book Tatkal ticket fast?

Login to your IRCTC account, but make sure you do it before 10 am. Go to your profile and fetch the master list of passengers, at this stage you can either add more passengers or modify the existing passenger list. You need to go back to your profile again and select ‘list of favourite journey’. Fill up all train details, station of origin and termination, and save your details. Login to the IRCTC website a few minutes before 10 am, and select the information you have already filled up and saved. And submit all your details. You need to select Tatkal and then hit ‘book now’. Eventually you will be directed to the payment gateway.

# How many passengers can be booked in a single ticket/transaction?

Only six passengers can be booked on a single ticket of general quota. However, for Tatkal bookings four passengers are permitted per ticket.

# How can I transfer my ticket to a friend? What is the process?

You can transfer your ticket only to a blood relation such as father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter, except husband and wife. For the same, you need to be holding a confirmed ticket, and file an application 24-hour ahead of the scheduled departure time to the station manager along with a legit proof of your relation with the said member.

# How many waiting list tickets get confirmed?

The Tatkal waiting list is less-likely to get confirmed. When a chart is prepared, the General Waiting List (GNWL) usually gets preference over Tatkal Waiting List (CKWL). But if a Tatkal ticket climbs up the chart it is deemed confirmed, and doesn’t get slotted under RAC unlike in a general category. And you have a seat availability in train.

Useful Links: PNR Status | IRCTC | Trains Ticket Reservation | Trains Between Stations | Know Your Booking Status