No visit in India is complete without experiencing the bustle of Indian railway stations and a safe & comfortable journey on an Indian express train with the tea seller’s cry of chai, chai, garam chai coming down the aisle. You get the opportunity to make new friends and mix up with the locals. Train travel is both a savior of money and time as they are safe, affordable and easy to travel. The thrill of exploring India would be incomplete without having a knack of the third biggest passenger rail network in the world after United States and China.
Booking a Train ticket online:
Earlier, travelers would book tickets by visiting the nearest station. This involved standing in long queues for about two to three hours and still being unsure whether you’re going to get the reservation done. Since the last few years, ticketing in India has become a lot easier due to the online booking system. IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation) is the official railway website of India on which travellers can book railway tickets online for tourism or business purposes.
The good news is that IRCTC does not only facilitate easy travel to millions of people across the country but also offers an opportunity to become an IRCTC agent through its authorized Principle Agents. Becoming an IRCTC authorised agent can be a rewarding and profitable home-based business which lets you book unlimited tickets and earn excellent commission margins on each booking.
How early to book a train ticket?
Booking of tickets is permitted four months in advance (120 days) on a first-come-first-served basis. The Indian Railway transports approximately 18 million people daily. The thing about India train travel is that it is always overbooked and very busy. The most surefire and hassle-free way to secure your train ticket is to book online as far in advance as possible. Thus you can be rest assured knowing that you will get on the specific train you want on the specific date, especially if you have a limited amount of time in India and a packed itinerary of places you want to see. So, if planning a train journey, you have to book your train tickets as early as possible.
Foreign Tourist Quota:
Indian Railways has made train travel easy for foreign nationals and NRI’s. The Foreign Tourist quota is a small section of seats on certain trains reserved for foreigners and NRI’s travelling to India for tourism purpose. Seeing the increasing number of foreign tourists visiting India every year, many of whom have absolutely no idea how early to book, this quota is an added advantage. In order to avail this quota, travelers must have a valid foreign passport and tourist visa. Bookings open 60 days prior to the departure date. However, tickets under this quota cannot be booked online and the foreign tourist must book the ticket in person with the required original documents at specific allocated ticketing counters in India. The prices are the same as a standard ticket and can be paid in multiple currencies including Indian Rupee.
Different Train Classes in Indian Railway:
There are 8 different train classes offered by the Indian Railway, but not all trains have all class types. The biggest different between these classes is Air-conditioned vs Non-Air-conditioned and sleeper vs sitting. The Ac class consists of 1AC, 2AC and 3AC. If comfort is more of a concern, then travel in 3AC is a better option. For those who require space and/or privacy, 2AC or 1AC is recommended. You can choose from several other classes, but 1,2 and 3 AC are traveler’s best bets for overnight trains.
Travelling in First Class:
Experience the comforts of first-class rail travel and you may never want to go back to second class. A First-class rail travel is simply irresistible. There’s nothing like watching the beautiful and ever-changing scenery pass by from a quiet and comfortable train compartment, with the comforting sound of rail cars gliding smoothly over the rail tracks. Especially if you are travelling in Indian Railways for the first time, then travelling on first class can definitely make the journey more comfortable for you. First class AC in IRCTC is the highest class of travel offered by the Indian Railway system and also the most expensive. The decision to select a class type will not only depend on your budget but also on the travel experience you are looking for. In general, first class offers serenity and quietness, whereas second class offers more of a community travel experience. Traveling first class usually means spacious, comfortable seats, amenities such as USB-ports, individual reading lights, complimentary drinks and meals to name a few.
Details required to book a railway ticket online:
- IRCTC Account
- Debit/Credit Card
- ID Card (Aadhaar, voter or PAN card) for passenger information
- Internet Connectivity
- Travel details (date, sectors etc.)
Steps to book rail tickets on Indian Railway (IRCTC):
- Visit IRCTC website to log into your IRCTC account. If you don’t have an account, you will need to create/register one. It is compulsory to create an account for booking train tickets online.
- After logging in to your IRCTC account, you will be automatically directed to a page where you will be asked to fill in your journey details. Journey details include information like From Station Code, To station Code and Date of Journey.
- After providing your journey details, the list of train availability will be displayed.
- Select the train and class type you wish to travel in. The site will provide the seat availability in the specified category. To know the fare of the ticket, click on ‘Get fare’.
- Once you get the train type, availability and fare, it is time to book the ticket. You will see a Book Now option below the train information.
- Click on Book Now and Fill in all passenger details. Passenger details include Passenger’s name, age, sex, berth preference, food preference (for some trains), ID card number and senior citizen details (if applicable). You will also need to provide a valid phone number on which your ticket details will be sent.
- After filling in all the details the page will ask you to confirm the details. Once the details are submitted, you will be redirected to the payment gateway page.
- On the payment gateway page, choose the payment option, fill in the card details and make the payment.
- Finally, after the payment is made you will receive the rail ticket on your registered email id as well as registered mobile number.
- On the date of your journey carry a copy of the rail ticket along with your original ID card used at the time of booking.
Also Read: How to become an IRCTC Agent
Like the saying goes, it’s all about the journey and not just the destination. As the train starts chugging from the railway station, it crosses bridges, seas, rivers, valleys, deserts, mountains and other man-made as well as natural wonders, giving you an experience of the true essence of Indian train journeys.