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Indian Railways Train Reservation System - Step by Step Guide

In general, we can book train tickets in two ways in Indian Railways. You can book train tickets online via the website (www.irctc.co.in) and mobile app. Or, you can walk down to the station and book manually via the counter. However, there is more to train reservation than just the two methods.

Here is detailed information about the train ticket reservation in India. Before we begin, remember that trains are the most commonly opted choice for transportation among Indians. Thus, it is essential to pre-book your tickets.

Indian Railways train reservation system

Types of Bookings

As mentioned before, there are two types of bookings, online and over-the-counter. The online page is slow and has numerous steps for completion. There are multiple trains and stations to choose from, and thereby it is time-consuming and confusing. On the other hand, on any given day, the queue in front of the manual booking counter would run long. Thus, it is best to choose travel agencies that provide train reservation services.

For International Travelers

International travelers can book through the online portal with international cards. Prior to that, the traveler should verify the account with a registered international cell number. The registration fee for the account is INR 100. Foreigners can book tickets via that account under FTQ – Foreign Tourist Quota.

Step by Step Process for Booking Train Tickets

Step 1: Finding a Train

On a given route, numerous trains are running every day. The frequency, time taken for the journey, cost of tickets, and starting time varies for each train. Each train is given a specific name and train number. The first step in booking a train ticket is to choose the train of your choice.

Go to ‘plan my journey’ and click on the departure station. Type the name and choose the station. Remember that some cities have more than one train station. For instance, both Chennai Central Station and Chennai Egmore Station are located in the same city, but at different locations. A train that stops at Chennai Central Station need not stop at Chennai Egmore Station.

The next step is to choose the arrival station and travel date. If no trains are running between the two stations, the portal will give out an error message and you can change the station name. If there are any trains, a list will be generated. You can sort the list in terms of the class of ticket, type of trains, and so on.

Step 2: Selecting a Ticket

Choose a train, and you will find information about the availability of seats under each class, departure time and arrival time. Click on the train and you will find the train fare for each type of class.

If there are no tickets available on the train of your choice, ‘RAC’ or ‘WL’ will be displayed. RAC allows you to book a ticket and guarantees you a seat (not a berth). You might receive a berth if there are any cancellations. The chances of ticket cancellation are quite high if you are booking way in advance (like three months ahead). If ‘WL’ is listed, it means Waiting List. You will not be guaranteed a seat or berth unless enough amount of people have canceled their tickets. For instance, if your train has 40 WL when you book, you will be guaranteed a seat only if 41 people cancel their tickets. When you book in advance, the chances of people canceling in higher and you might receive a confirmed ticket.

Step 3: Booking

Once you have chosen the train and class of your choice, click on the ‘book now’ button. This will lead you to the page for ticket reservations. Fill in the details requested in the form. The necessary information needed is the name of the travelers, age, berth of choice, and so on. Click on the ‘payment’ button.

Step 4: Payment

If you have already logged into your account, the booking page will lead you to the payment page. Else, you will be redirected to the log-in page. The details you have typed and the train you have chosen will be saved. Once you log in, you can access the payment page. Make payment via a source of your choice.

Step 5: Confirmation

Your payment confirmation will be shown on the page along with a ticket, which is printable and storable in any device. This ticket is required to board the train. You can either take a physical printout or have the soft copy in hand. Either way, you need to carry any government-issued ID proof of any one of the passengers on that ticket (in one process, you can book tickets for four passengers on the same train and route). If you have booked for four people on the same ticket, you need at least one ID proof of any one of those four people.

Note for Foreigners:

If you are an international traveler, the process is the same, but you need to click the ‘Services’ button on the left to the page and choose Foreign Tourist Ticket Book option. The rest of the process is the same.

Tatkal Booking

A few seats in each train will be reserved for urgent travelers to book 24 hours in advance. This window opens for just one hour. For AC coaches, the tatkal opens from 10 am and closes by 11 am. For non-AC coaches, it opens from 11 am to 12 pm. Remember that these tickets will be sold out in a matter of minutes.

Read More: How to Book IRCTC Premium Tatkal Tickets?

Simple Tips for Easy Ticket Booking

  • Every ticket will be assigned a PNR – 10 digit number. Go to the ‘Check PNR status’ button found under the menu ‘Enquiries.’ Put in your PNR number and you can find details about your berth number, train name, departure station, and so on.
  • You cannot book tickets online between 11:45 pm and 12 am any day. This is the time for daily maintenance of the site.
  • You can book as early as 120 days before the departure date.
  • The site is very crowded as millions of people would be using it. Thus, the site will be languid and you might receive an error message at any time. In such cases, you ought to refresh and start from the beginning. In case of an error message during the transaction, you would receive the payment back by the end of the day.
  • Sometimes, the station name and the city name will not be the same. The main station in Kolkata is Howrah station. Surf and research about the stations in the destination of your choice.

Indian Railways also run luxury train like Palace on Wheels which runs from September to April. Plan your trip and book the Palace on Wheels train omline.

Know More about Palace on Wheels:

Further Read: