Friday, April 13, 2012

How to book Indian railway tickets outside India

In India travelling by train is very cheap, unlike Europe. It can last upto 36 hours. The median speed for express trains are 45-50 KM/hr. There are generally following types of train service :

1. AC first class - price comparable to air fare of low cost airlines
2.AC 2 tier
3.AC 3 tier or AC chair car (for shorter duration)
4. 3 tier Sleeper
5. Unreserved - travelling by this for a long distance is like death punishment. But local trains are invaribaly   unreserved category and without any problem.
*** In India bus journey is for a shorter duration - normally upto 12 hours (max)

To book ticket you have to fill up the form either online or offline

  • Tatkal tickets(e-tickets only)can be booked one day in advance (excluding the date of journey)
  • Tatkal e-ticketcan be booked for selected trains one day in advance upto chart preperation. e-tickets  can be booked  on  the opening day from 8.00 am onwards.
e.g., If  today is 1st august,2nd August will be the opening day.  Ticket booking starts from 8 AM for the opening day. It is 10 am for tatkal

IRCTC - booking result (& workaround) for people without an Indian mobile phone and outside India (edited) 

FAQ 1:  I have been banging my head against a wall, trying to figure out train tickets on IRCTC. I finally found tickets, but now when I try to pay, it says my credit card must come from ICICI, AXIS, HDFC, or CITI. or American Express ? Is there anyway to pay for rail tickets without an Indian bank credit card ? silkkat813 from Villas, United States

I've also been using Cleartrip. Simple website, and they charge a modest (20 INR) fee, and that's it - The only downside is it can't book multiple line journeys. So you have to do that manually if you're booking a trip where you'll need to change trains. 

PS: Oh! One tip about something that's been driving me crazy about Cleatrip. Their e-tickets don't include trip length or arrival time. And since I'm booking trains with as much advance notice as possible, I don't always remember the exact lengths or arrival times.So you may want to make note of that when you purchase your tickets. Just write it down or email it to yourself. Or look it up again when you print them (which means you essentially have to do a search for the exact same train). Slightly irritating, but still much easier than the government website.

I've also found this website very useful, stumbled on it the other day.

source: CS ccoates from New Orleans, United States

FAQ 2: How can I register myself to outside India without (Indian) mobile ? 

Inspired by Christus who posted a few days ago, I decided to try to get my old irctc account reactivated. I emailed with a heading of "Reactivating account from outside India" and quoting my username in the text.

I received an auto response allocating a ticket# to my query. 

A day later I received an e-mail asking for a scan of my passport. This second e-mail had a second ticket#. 

I sent my scan quoting the original ticket# and received an auto acknowledgement with a third ticket#.

I then received an e-mail to tell me that I would shortly receive the activation code that I required. After 5 days I had received no answer, so I e-mailed quoting the original ticket#. This received another auto response with another ticket# (4 so far).

Today (6th day) I decided to phone irctc Customer Care (+91 11 393 40000) The guy I spoke to was very helpful. I quoted the original ticket# and after a few minutes he came back to me to say that they were waiting for my scan to be e-mailed. I asked him to look again under the most recent ticket# and it took him only a few seconds to say that my activation code would be sent out within the next hour.

About 90 minutes later I received an e-mail to tell me that they would shortly e-mail my activation code. 10 minutes later it arrived. When I logged on to irctc and entered the code I got a message to say that it was an invalid activation code. I logged out and when I logged back in the account was active.

Earlier I had notified Amex of my plan to use my card on an Indian site and they assured me it had been cleared. I was able to book tickets .... which are not on Cleartrip and another couple of tickets just to prove, it wasn't a fluke. 

As far as I am aware Amex is the only card that can be used from outside India. There is an option to log on to the Amex gateway when paying and this is the one I used.

- by Dave W

PS: Foreigners have a special they ALWAYS GET THE Ticket (even in 1/2 days notice) , unlike us, without ANY PROBLEM. So easier option is come to India, get a ticket from the railway station. But all railway stations do not have this facility.

Another very interesting sites are  and rail radar


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