A Guide to the India Railway System and the Indian Train

View Poll Results: Which class you would prefer in Indian train?
Second Class (Unreserved) 45 3.94%
Sleeper Class 342 29.97%
AC 3-Tier sleeper 229 20.07%
AC 2-Tier sleeper 393 34.44%
AC First Class 225 19.72%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 1141. You may not vote on this poll

#1 Dec 1st, 2003, 20:21
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  • beach is offline

NOTE: This is a discussion thread for the article A Guide to the India Railway System and the Indian Train.
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A Guide to the India Railway System and the Indian Train

I’m sharing my practical knowledge about the India railway system, the Indian train, and the India travel ‘culture’. The information in this article covers what to expect when traveling on the India Railway system (as well as what not to expect), types of Indian train classes, India railway facilities, cost of travel on Indian trains, and instructions on making offline and online India Railway reservations.

 ... read more »

Last edited by nadreg; Mar 28th, 2008 at 05:19..
#31 May 6th, 2004, 18:42
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  • Jeroen is offline

AC temperature

I have a useful little thermometre cum compass on my bag, and in the April heat of Rajastan I was surprised to find that the cool AC car that felt like 15 degrees was in fact 28... still a big difference with the 40° outside.
'To see the world in a grain of sand; and heaven in a wild flower; to hold infinity in the palm of your hand; and eternity in an hour'
#32 May 6th, 2004, 19:01
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Thanks beach for the extensive information.

I'm still a bit hazy over the waitlist (WL) status of tickets and have two questions that I hope you or someone else can answer.

1). If I have a waitlisted ticket and due to cancellations it gets knocked up to the point where I can get a "real" ticket (seat), do I have to go - ticket in hand - to a certain booth to get its status upgraded before I get on the train?

2). If I'm not lucky and the waitlisted ticket remains a waitlisted ticket, do I get a full refund?

Sorry, but these are still somehow confusing. Only once have I had an RAC ticket... but never a WL one.
#33 May 7th, 2004, 13:06
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  • beach is offline
1)No. You have already paid the reservation fee when booking the ticket (WL at that time). There is no mandatory endorsement or anything required.

But people sometimes do go to a booth to know the status. In that case approach the 'enquiry counter' at the end of the reservations counter row.

Just ask them 'status please' and you need not have to fill any form for this purpose. If the seat is confirmed they write in the ticket the coach & seat no: (eg: A3, 35) and return the ticket. If your ticket is still in the 'queue' they tell you the current status with nothing noted on the ticket.

I do this when for me it is easy to approach a reservation booth with a WL ticket than checking through Internet or the Interactive Voice Response system (telephone) to know the current status of the ticket.

It is wise to know this beforehand so that at the station you need not have to search for your name at the WL/RAC ‘Chart’ stuck near the platform notice board. Also you need not have to run up and down within the train or along platform when the train arrives looking for your coach. In smaller stations they may not display the chart.

In any case you can directly approach one of the many TTEs (Traveling Ticket Examiner, he wears a dark blazer and hold a clipboard) of your train for knowing the coach no.& seat. In the ‘chart’ search for your name in the original WL/RAC status printed on the ticket.

For example if your ticket is printed with WL140/WL10. Look in the chart at the WL140th position to see the coach & berth allocation. Many do the mistake of searching at the WL10th position and not seeing their name there.

2) Yes. They refund the full amount for RAC and WL tickets. A nominal charge of Rs10 per passenger is reduced in the amount as processing fee. You need to submit the ticket prior to the departure of the train. For late submission for cancellation, there is some % cut.
#34 May 7th, 2004, 13:13
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Thanks beach, this definitely cleared things up! No all that is left is to try it out
#35 May 7th, 2004, 14:01
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  • ashish0608 is offline
Has anyone tried without ticket?

A friend of mine in our college days would always travel w/o ticket..His logic the chances of getting caught are less that 1 in 10 so even if I pay 10 times (which is official fine) without any argument I still stand to gain....and he had proved that at the end of four years that we were together....

I have never dared to do it.

But I have travelled on platform tickets..it is official to get a platform ticket converted to a Journey ticket in any of the classes (subject to availability) and TTE can do it on payment...so if you find that the train is just about to leave when you enter the Stn., get hold of a platform ticket and board the train..try to find the TTE, declare the same and he should be able to convert the ticket by charging for which he will give the receipt.

My preferance is always for 2A/c....upper berth not on the side

#36 May 7th, 2004, 18:10
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  • stormysky is offline
Hi beach,
Fantastic article. Been travelling in Indian trains for so long... sort of take these things for granted.

Anyways, another interesting fact, other than the number of routes, distance etc, is that the Indian Railways is the worlds largest employer. It employs more than a 1000000 people.

EDIT NOTE: - This post has been added to this thread after it was mistakenly added to the wrong thread. (I think)
Last edited by steven_ber; May 7th, 2004 at 23:07..
#37 May 8th, 2004, 20:30
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  • Jeroen is offline

last minute tickets & juicy IR facts

I haven't tried travelling without any ticket, but what I often do is just get a 2nd class seater ticket just before I travel (the only ticket they sell at the station on the day of travel). I ignore all the fuss with prebooking, hop on the train, look for a seat and pay the difference. Easy. I always figure that in a train with more than 20 carriages, there must be one seat for me. If it looks busy, I look for the TC and ask him to tell me which sleeper bunk I can take. On short stretches the TC may not even drop by. Once a 50Rs donation to the upkeep of his many children was enough to get me the bunk for the night. Only once was I kicked off a full train (well, I decided to jump off as we were pulling out of the station to avoid a night crouched near the reeking toilets), at a stop halfway along the Delhi-Mumbai line, but there are many trains going along there so it was a matter of waiting half an hour for the next one.

Last week in Trichur, Kerala, I visited the Indian Railway stand at the Puram festival, where they were showing a really excellent documentary about IR (the title was something with Golden age I think). Stuff I jotted down about IR:
- 'about' 1,6 million employees, but aprox. 80mln people dependent on IR salaries.
- 14mln passengers on 12,000 trains every day, 63,000km of track, 6984 stations
- across the country, there are 100,000 essential 'key men' whose job it is to walk up and down 4 miles of track every day, checking each bolt and nut
- Howrah (Kolkata) is the busiest station in India. Howrah bridge,leading to it, is the busiest bridge in the world.
- Longest platform in the world: Kharagpur, 2,7km
- longest possible trip: 3751km (72 hours): Jammu Tawi to south of Trivandrum

Exciting stuff, my friends.
#38 May 8th, 2004, 21:39
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  • beach is offline

Yes. The seat availability trick works.

If you are only one or two traveling together and not with too much of a luggage you can try that. Yes. You needs to be a bit adventurous and prepared for some difficulties as if you are not able to get a good seat. If you have a second-class ticket, no one will chuck you out of the train. But they’ll ask you to go to the general compartment.That is the maximum risk. That at time is manageable.

You are right. The whole of the train doesn’t get reserved right from the first station to the last station. But this is not a case during the peak season in certain long distance routes.

They have something called allocation of coaches in a specific way. For example all the passengers reserved from a particular station are put in a particular coach. Once this is full the next coach start filling. This is how the online reservation works. But the coaches are attached from the starting station itself. Till the train reaches this designated station, these coaches acts like unreserved coaches. Anyone with an unreserved ticket can travel in these. Regular travelers know which coach is free up to which station.

I’ve traveled like that many times. The TTE can ‘help’ in finding out an empty berth. In a long distance trip he may ask you to shift from one berth to another based on the reservation allocation of those berths.

Also in each coach there is seat reserved for the TTE. Usually the first or the last one. Generally a TTE is in charge for about 4 adjacent coaches. That means, about 3 seats are available for his disposal. You can manage to get one from him. In peak season, he may ask of a tip (rs50 max. Never give a 100rs note. You’ll not get 50rs back! ). And if it is not the rush season a request with a grin is sufficient to occupy his berth.

His seats are written with TTE at the top of it. I just go there and sits on the seat majestically!. For about 3 hours I can sit there without any trouble. The train is running and its 10 in the night. The TTE is doing his duty by verifying all the other passengers at there locations.

Hours later once he is finished he comes and stand next to me, means get out of my seat. I scratch my head without leaving his seat, means I do not have reservation. I take the wallet out, means I’m willing to tip. He stays next to me still looking seriously at the chart board with him. Remember we’ve not yet talked anything nor had an eye contact.

He goes through the list and says “no seats”. Means he can give a seat!. He asks me where do I wants to get out. I say the station. He looks at the list again. And he tells there is a berth available somewhere but I’ve to vacate it at a particular station. The reserved passenger will occupy the berth at that station. God! The train reaches at that station at 3 am. I agree. Then he says after that you occupy another berth, a berth that will get empty by that time. I give him 50rs. He writes something on my ticket, god alone knows what. He tells me the berth and coach numbers. That night I sleep on two berths, 4 hour on first and 4 hour on the second!!

‘Nice’ TTEs do this as a favor without tip.

I always say my uncle is a railway staff!!. Most of the time this lie helps me in getting some special considerations
#39 May 21st, 2004, 17:42
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  • Jeroen is offline

Getting tourist quota seats

The way IR sells seats reserved for foreign tourists seems to differ per city.

It's a great system - right now for instance, all summer trains heading to the mountains are crammed full, with long waiting lists. But flash your passport and tourist visa at the right official and there are a few empty seats/berths that are reserved for foreigners till the last minute.

In Delhi at the Foreigners Travel Desk on the first floor of New Delhi station (ignore the fools outside there saying it's closed and pointing to their travel agency outside), you can request these places and pay for them in USD, EUR, or GBP (change given in Rs, but not at the best rate), or also in rupees as long as you can prove you exchanged the money legally (ATM receipts are fine).

In the Mumbai CST office however, the rule is that you can pay for these tickets only in foreign currency up to a day before departure, and after that also in rupees (with proof, etc).

An advantage (or disadvantage) of the system is that you'll be seated together with the other foreigners who booked via this system - so it's like checking into a cosy guesthouse.
#40 May 21st, 2004, 19:09
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  • beach is offline

Quota & Concessions

There are a number of seats, which would be filled only based on quotas. Even for pair of destinations are having quotas!

For example if you try to book a ticket from Cochin to Chennai, the system will say waitlisted. But if you try to book from Cochin to Ongole (a place after Chennai), you may get a confirmed seat!

This is because there are a few quota seats allotted for the Cochin-Ongole station pair. I do book for a slightly far station (to which a station pair quota is available) if booking for my actual destination is not available. All it cost is a couple of ten rupees more. And you can ‘terminate’ journey at your destination and claim refund for the unused part of the journey!

One more interesting this about the IR is its concession fare system. The most popularly used are the senior citizen concession and the student concession. I’ve used the 50% student concession all through my student life

The concessions are mostly only for the Indian citizens (except a very few cases), but it is interesting to note.

Article Clerk -> [ARTCLK (50%)]
Artist Lower Class -> [ARTISF (75%)]
Artist Upper Class -> [ARTIUF (50%)]
Award 50% -> [AWD50 (50%)]
Award 75% -> [AWD75 (75%)]
Award 100% -> [AWD100 (100%)]
Bharat Scouts/Guides -> [BSGUDF (50%)]
Bharat Seva Dal -> [BSDALF (25%)]
Blind Concession -> [BLIND (75%)]
Cancer Patient -> (For 3A, SL, CC class) [CANCER (75%)]
Cancer Patient Escort-> (For 3A, SL, CC class) [CNESC (75%)]
Cancer Patient -> (For 1A, 2A class) [CANCEU (50%)]
Cancer Patient Escort-> (For 1A, 2A class) [CNESCU (50%)]
Doctor -> [DOCTOR (10%)]
Public Exam(6-12yrs) -> [PUBEXA (50%)]
Circus Artist Lower Class ->[CIRCLF (75%)]
Circus Artist Upper Class -> [CIRCUF (50%)]
Civil International -> [CVINTF (25%)]
Deaf And Dumb -> [DFDM (50%)]
Handicap Lower Class -> [HNDCAP (75%)]
Handicap 1AC 2AC -> [HNDCUP (50%)]
Heart Patient (for 3A, SL, 2S class)-> [HEART (75%)]
Heart Patient Escort (for 3A, SL, 2S class)-> [HRTESC (75%)]
Heart Patient (for 1A, 2A class)-> [HEARTU (50%)]
Heart Patient Escort (for 1A, 2A class)-> [HRTESU (50%)]
IAFT 1709 Form D -> [I1709A (40%)]
IAFT 1720 Lower Class -> [I1720L (50%)]
IAFT 1720 Upper Class -> [I1720U (50%)]
Industrial Worker -> [WORKER (25%)]
Kidney Patients (for 3A, SL, 2S Class) -> [KIDNEY (75%)]
Kidney Patient Escort (for 3A, SL, 2S Class) -> [KIESC (75%)]
Kidney Patients (for 1A, 2A Class) -> [KIDNEU (50%)]
Kidney Patients Escort (for 1A, 2A Class) -> [KIESCU (50%)]
Kisan Concession -> [KISANF (25%)]
Leprosy Patient -> [LPROSY (75%)]
Mental Patient -> [MNTLPT (75%)]
Nurse -> [NURSE (25%)]
Polo Team -> [POLO (50%)]
Proffessional Artist lower class -> [PARTLF (75%)]
Proffessional Artist Upper class -> [PARTUF (50%)]
PTO Common Wealth Country -> [PTOFOR (50%)]
PTO Indian Railway -> [PTORDR (66.6%)]
Public Examination -> [PUBESC (50%)]
Research Scholar -> [SEARCH (50%)]
Scout Concession -> [SCOUT (50%)]
Senior Citizen -> [SRCTZN (30%)]
Service Civil Inter -> [SCINTL (25%)]
Sports Lower class -> [SPORT (75%)]
Sports Inter N Level FC -> [SPORTI (75%)]
Sports National Level FC -> [SPORTN (50%)]
ST JOHN'S Ambulance -> [STJONF (25%)]
Student Concession -> [STDNT (50%)]
Student SC/ST -> [STDSPS (75%)]
TB Patient -> [TBPAT (75%)]
Teacher -> [TEACHR (25%)]
Thalassemia Patient (for 3A, SL, 2S class)-> [TLSMIA (75%)]
Thalassemia Patient Escort (for 3A, SL, 2S class)-> [THLESC (75%)]
Thalassemia Patient (for 1A, 2A class)-> [TLSMIU (50%)]
Thalassemia Patient Escort (for 1A, 2A class)-> [THLESU (50%)]
War Widow -> [WIDOW (75%)]
Youth Concession -> [YOUTH (25%)]
#41 Jun 9th, 2004, 10:55
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  • beach is offline

Railways bans plastic

Wednesday, 09 June , 2004, 07:57

New Delhi: It's goodbye to plastic cups on Indian railways.
Travellers now will be served water, tea and other beverages on trains and platforms in traditional earthenware mugs made by potters -- giving hope of a new lease of life for a trade under threat from the rampant use of plastic.

Discuss: Plastic is a bane of 20th century
"The use of plastic cups has been totally banned," M Y Siddiqui, Railway Information Officer, told AFP.

The orders for a "clean and green" railways came directly from the new minister in charge, Laloo Prasad Yadav. The orders by Yadav could create new jobs for millions of poor potters in the country whose livelihood has been threatened by the widespread use of plastic............(full story)
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#42 Jun 9th, 2004, 11:59
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  • cyberhippie is offline
Yeah laloo for prime minister! Seriously it's great that they are ditching those plastic cups for both the enviroment and my poor hands! Those plastic cups were HOT!
And can I once again raise my voice against tea-bag chai!!!!! Bring back proper chai, not those half cups and a tea bag. Anyone got Laloo's tel number?
#43 Jun 9th, 2004, 12:09
albaruni Future Member
no but they have a message board for suggestions.

alternately, Mrs rabri devi has a telephone number and email address listed.
Last edited by albaruni; Jun 9th, 2004 at 12:47..
#44 Jul 7th, 2004, 22:32
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  • sky888 is offline
it's very nice and detailed information and very help..

when I was in India last month, I got all confused with all the classes.. and the railway staff, though friendly, didn't seems willing to explain things to me

I got really confused and end up taking a few classes, including the unreserved 2nd class, sleeper and ac 3 and 2..

though Ac class is more comfortable and more appealing from the first impression, I must say that I got the most enjoyable experience while taking the 2nd class sleeper/ 2nd class.. the people taking these classes are the majority of the india society and I did managed to meet up with many very friendly strangers! they will offer their advice and their symanthy, especially when they know that I have been travelling alone for a few weeks in India.. their smile is really warmly!

if you want to see the real india (and meet the friendly people) go 2nd class non ac...
The China Travel and Photography Forum
#45 Aug 8th, 2004, 22:25
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  • Polo is offline
If anyone wants it I got this map pasted into a word doc, had no Idea how else to do it with the limited programs on this pc. (The map is divided in submaps/subpics, so a lot of copy pasting and adjusting size)

No idea how to upload it on Indiamike though

Just wanted to share, since this is the best map I've found anywhere!


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