Overview of booking train tickets in India

Travelling on Indian railway’s train is a reason to travel all by itself. The rail network of India is one of the worlds most widespread and the prices are very reasonable. Bookings open 120 days before departure and seats fill up quickly. An estimated 17 to 20 million people travel by Indian Railway in India every day. So if you have dates locked in and a route mapped out, you can do your train ticket booking before you even arrive in the country. Here are all the details on how to do it.

Booking train tickets

Reserving your seat in Indian rails online or by using a mobile app is the easiest way to buy a rail ticket. The reservation system of Indian railway is open from 12.20 am to 11.45 pm every day (IST), The IRCTC website is closed for maintenance daily during this period.  Services are unavailable during this time.So keep this in mind when trying to book online, particularly if you are abroad. The following websites all issue e-tickets, which are valid for the train travel. You may have to show your passport or valid ID proof along with the printout of your booking reference when you are on the train. Rail reservations websites and apps all accept international credit & debit cards. Also, you can pay by other methods like Internet banking, BHIM UPI or by adding money to their E-wallet for your train ticket booking.

  • Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited: This website is set up by the Ministry of Railways; you can book regular trains as well as tourist trains such as the Deccan Odyssey.
  • There are websites & apps like Paytm, Cleartrip, Make My Trip, yatra which offers an excellent, easy to use and reliable platform for reserving seats in trains without any hassles.

Reserving a seat in the train

You must have to make a reservation for all chair car, sleeper class, and 1st tier AC, 2nd tier AC and 3rd tier AC carriages (check out the glossary given below for more details).  You need not reserve a seat in general class compartments. Train ticket Bookings are strongly suggested for all overnight journeys and if you are planning to travel during Indian holidays or festivals.

Some pointers about Indian trains & classes

  • There are varieties of trains & classes and not all classes are available on every train.
  • Mail & Express trains typically contain general compartments with unreserved seating and more comfortable compartments like sleeper class, 1st AC, 2nd AC, and 3RDAC that you can reserve.
  • There are Shatabdi express trains which have same-day services with seating only, in AC Chair and Executive Chair cars.
  • There are Rajdhani express trains which provide long-distance overnight services between Delhi and state capitals with a choice of 1AC, 2AC, 3AC classes.
  • Many cities also have suburban train networks also known as local trains, but these are very crowded during peak hours.

Know about classes of travel in Indian railway

First class air-Conditioned (1stAC): The most expensive class of the train travel; two-or four-berth compartments with locking doors and meals are included in the fair. This class is available on limited mail or express trains.

2-Tier Air-Conditioned (2ndAC): 2nd Tier berths in the train are arranged in groups of four and two in an open-plan carriage. There are curtains for some semblance of privacy.

3-TierAir-Conditioned (3rdAC): Third-tier berths are arranged in groups of six in an open-plan carriage; there are no curtains.

AC Executive Chair car: Relaxing, comfortable reclining chairs; generally found on Shatabdi & GaribRath express trains.

Sleeper Class:   The affordable class contains open plan carriages with three-tier bunks and there is no AC, but the open windows afford great views.

Unreserved 2nd Class: General seats and a lot of rush – but cheap ticket prices.