Introduction to Indian Railway Reservation

Are you planning to reserve a train ticket in India for the very first time? This blog is an introductory chapter to those who are confused about making a reservation. Indian trains are always crowded to the neck. It is essential to pre-book the tickets at least three to four months in prior to your departure date.

Except the general class or the unreserved class, other tickets have to be pre-booked. There are several ways to reserve the tickets and this blog will go in detail about each method.

1. About Online Reservation

The Indian railway website, IRCTC is the most traffic-filled site. The tickets are usually booked through this official site. If you are planning to book tickets the day before your departure date, tatkal tickets are available from 10:00 AM and ends as soon as the tickets are booked. The tickets are limited and the demand will be sky-high. If you are able to reserve a ticket through tatkal, you can get berth seats. Cancellation of tatkal ticket will not be refunded. Anyone can reserve tickets through IRCTC. You can pay through debit card, credit card, international card and others.

On the other hand, you can choose tour portals to reserve tickets. The sites will be faster and user-friendly. Not all trains will be displayed in such portals and a small fee will be levied as service charge. A foreigner can also book tickets through an account that will be verified through and Indian mobile number or by mailing passport details to IRCTC. Foreigners can easily book train tickets through tour portals.

2. Online Reservation

Following are the steps involved in online booking of train tickets:

  • Visit IRCTC and log into the site. If you are new member, it will request you to sign up. IRCTC Login  Once you log into the site, there will be tab named ‘Plan My Journey’. Enter the details of the station of departure and station of arrival. You will have to enter details like the class of ticket you are preferring, journey date and others. Select the option for e-ticket. Keep the class and type of train open to find availability during tourism season and festival times.Plan My Journey 
  • If you have given wrong station name or if there is no availability of trains, you will get an error message. Else, a tabular column of available train, departure time and arrival time will be listed. You can click on the train to check the train fare, availability of berth and others.Train Between Stations 
  • If there are no berths available, it will be indicated as RAC (Reserved against cancellation). You can book a ticket in such situation and you will be given a seat to sit during your journey. In case of considerable cancellations in the train, you might get a berth. If even RAC is filled, it will be shown as WL (Waiting list). You can still book tickets. If there are considerable cancellations, RAC tickets will be given berth and WL tickets will be given seats to sit. If there is no considerable cancellation, your ticket becomes invalid.Seats Availability Status 
  • If there is availability of train or you want to book the tickets there will be option to book now. Just click on the book now button and you fill find a form of Journey Details. Fill the journey details like Name, Age, Gender, Berth Preference, Nationality, ID Card Type and ID Card No. IRCTC Journey Details  If you are going to travel with your child then below 5 Years will enjoy the free ride (Without Birth), if it exceed then you will have to pay for booking the ticket.IRCTC Journey Details for Child 
  • Now, scroll down and you will find a section called ‘payment option’. Click on suitable option and click ‘make payment’. Once the transaction is processed you will receive a ticket which should be printed out. The ticket is valid only if you show it along with a photo proof. Your passport, election card, Aadhar card or driver license will hold good. If you are a foreigner, you ought to carry your passport which contains valid Indian visa.

3. Reserving Over the Counter

Using the above stated steps, you can note the number of the train you which to book. Print out the reservation form from the online site and fill it. You can also find the form at the booking counter inside the railway station. Fill the form and submit it to the counter. The availability of the tickets would vary because of the time gap between online checking and visiting the ticket counter. You can pay through debit card or credit card or cash. Only Indian currency will be accepted. If you are a foreigner, you can also booked through International tourist bureaus that are found in major cities. The bureaus accept Indian rupee, pounds, encashment certificate, euro and dollars.

3. After Reservation

You will be provided with a 10-digit PNR number. Visit IRCTC website and click on PNR enquiry button. Enter your PNR number to check the status of your ticket. You can get details about whether your ticket is in WL or RAC or confirmed. A few hours in prior to the departure time, you can get details about the berth and seat number.

PNR Enquiry Option PNR Status PNR Status Details 

4. Miscellaneous Information

  1. The website is closed between 11:30 pm and 12:30 am everyday (Indian time). During this time period, ticket and other services will not be available.
  2. The queue in the booking counter will be very long. It is better to book online.
  3. IRCTC will be very slow. If you find error messages like ‘service unavailable’, wait for a few minutes and refresh the page.
  4. Use Indian Railways Trains timetable to learn about the names of the train running to different destinations. You can also use online portals to find the number of trains running between the station names you provided.

5. Things Needed For Reserving a Ticket

  1. Details of departure station, arrival station, time, number of tickets, name of passengers and age.
  2. Debit card or credit card for online booking.
  3. Foreign travelers will be asked to provide passport and visa details
  4. For over-the-counter booking, you would need a reservation form

The e-ticket you hold in hand is valid only if you present a name proof along with it. Else, you would be considered as ticket-less passenger and will be fined as per the railway rules.