Travelling India by Train- All You Need to Know

Have you ever been to India? The country with a remarkable history, overwhelming crowd and diverse culture, India has so much to offer when it comes to tourism. Moreover, India has one of the biggest and busiest rail networks in the world. The Indian Railway network binds all the four directions of the country ranging from North to South and East to West, bringing together the whole country.

Exploring India by train is relatively inexpensive as compared to the airfares. Also, with a variety of carriage types and sleeper trains, you can save a lot while on your trip to India. But before making a move, you must go through the detailed information given here in order to know about how to travel in India by train.

Facts about Indian Railway System

Here are some important and interesting facts about the Indian Railway system:

  • The first Indian train ran between Bombay and Thane on the 16th of April 1853.
  • Indian Railway transports around 2.5 Crores passengers every day.
  • Indian Railways accounts for one of the world’s largest employers with over 1.4 million people.
  • If the tracks of Indian railways are laid out, they will circle the earth almost 1.5 times.
  • The first double Decker train of India is Ahmedabad Mumbai Central Double Decker Express.

Booking a Train Ticket in India

Trip to India is incomplete if you haven’t had the train experience. While passing through the scenic villages, sky-high mountains and wavering farms, you will get to see the real beauty of India and inhale the fresh air as well. For some, travelling by train is sort of filmy and they want to get the ‘Raj and Simran’ vibe while others opt to travel by train to save some bucks. 

Now the question arises how to book Indian Railway tickets as a foreigner. Visit the official website through the link- https://www.irctc.co.in/nget/train-search and under the ‘Trains’ heading, you will see a sub-heading that says ‘Foreign Tourist Booking’. After selecting that, just follow the instructions to book the train tickets for your destination. 

You can also book your ticket after landing in India but during peak seasons, you may face difficulty in getting a confirmed seat. Moreover, if you want to purchase the ticket at the station itself, you may be asked to stand in a long queue and you may also not get the confirmed booking too.

So to avoid all the hassle, you can make all your train bookings online in advance. Staying online in India for all sorts of bookings is always beneficial as you can easily dodge the scammers waiting to loot the foreigners.

Note-While in India, make sure to keep all your important documents like ID card, visa, passport, and tickets handy so as to avoid any discomfort while travelling as they can be checked by the officials anytime. 

Train Classes in India

CodeClassDescriptionBerthTatkal 
1AAC First ClassMost expensiveSpacious and lockable compartments2-Berth 4-BerthN
2AAC 2-TierFor long distances and cheaper than the AC first classSleeping berths with curtains and individual reading lampsBerths are arranged in cubicles of two2-Berth 4-BerthY
3AAC 3-TierSimilar to AC 2-Tier but more crowdedLack of privacy and there is no reading lampsHas three tier of bunks2 Berth 6 BerthY
FCFirst ClassNon-AC coachesFares are more than the sleeper class2-Berth 4-BerthN
CCAC Chair CarFor daytime travel or intercity trains Five seats in a row2-Seat 3-SeatY
SLSleeperHas three tiers of bunksMost popular class of travel2-Berth 6-BerthY
2SSecond SittingCheapest ClassOrdinary coachesSeating arrangement in two rows of 3 seats each_N

Here are some guidelines about selecting the perfect train class for you:

  • In India, you have to book not only by class but by tier also that means how many berths are there. Furthermore, 2-Tier will be more expensive than 3-Tier.
  • If you don’t want to wake up and sit in the morning, you must choose the uppermost tier as the middle one has to be folded in the morning to let other people sit. But yes, you must enjoy the yummy Samosas and the refreshing Tea offered by the vendors in the morning. Also, their loud voice while offering ‘Chaiiiiiii!’ will not let you sleep in the morning.
  • You must be brave enough to travel in the second sitting class. It is no doubt the cheapest of all, so you can expect a lot of crowd and people fighting and running to get a seat. As a foreigner, people may want to talk to you and the urine sort of smell may overwhelm you. So if you hold that much patience, only then select this class.

Foreign Tourist Quota

Now, if you are thinking, if India has something special to offer you, the answer is ‘Yes’! There are some tickets that are only for foreigners. But they can be only purchased by standing in the ‘foreign tourist queue’ at the station. These are sort of emergency tickets, hence can be bought only on the day before or day of travel. This facility is not for Indians and only for an e-Visa India holder. The foreign tourist quota can also be accessed online if you have an account on the Indian Railways website.

Note- Only big stations like New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, etc., have this facility.

Tatkal Tickets

‘Tatkal’ is a Hindi word that means ‘Immediately’. These are emergency tickets and can be a saviour sometimes. However, it is not available at all stations and these tickets are specially meant for immediate plans or last-minute bookings. 

The booking starts one day in advance excluding the day of the journey. The bookings open at 10 am and the day of journey is defined as the day of chart preparation. You can book the ticket online or by standing in the queues at the stations.

While booking a Tatkal ticket online, you must keep your browsers open before the timing starts i.e. 10 am. The website will be the slowest at this time, hence patience is the key. Also, there will be an extra charge on the tickets and identity proof is a must while booking tatkal ticket.

Waitlisting

If you are waitlisted, it means you have got the ticket but your seat is not confirmed yet and it may or may not get confirmed. If you are waitlisted in the first 20, you may probably get a seat. If you don’t get a seat then you will get a refund for your ticket.

So this was all about how you can make your train journey in India a comfortable and economical one. 

Are Indian Trains Safe to Travel?

If you are a solo traveller to India, safety may be your first concern and it should be. But Indian Railways are not that bad as they have been depicted by the media. The only important advice is you must be alert throughout your journey and don’t let anyone fool you.

Robbery and snatching incidents are common and they can happen with anyone anytime. It is not only about Indian Railways that your bag will get stolen. 

To add up to your security while travelling by train in India, here are some tips and tricks:

  • Try to avoid sleeping if you are travelling by an overcrowded train or where there is no privacy. 
  • Carry a lock with you to safeguard all your belongings properly. This can be avoided when you are travelling in 1st or 2nd class trains.
  • Try to stay covered up when you are travelling by train so as to avoid unwanted stares of the local people.
  • Never give your details to any suspicious strangers as they may follow you up to your destination or try to fool you.
  • Stay informative with the help of trusted sources as some of the people may misguide you as well.

So now you know what the scenario is when you travel within India by train. If you are ready beforehand and want to explore the true beauty of India, nothing is better than travelling by train.

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