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Railways are the most common means of long distance travel in India and the country also is known to have the 4th largest railway network in the world. Managed by the Ministry of Railways of the Government of India, the trains cover the length and breadth of India. Transporting over 6 billion passengers and over 350 million tonnes of freight annually, the railway system in India is also one of the largest commercial services employing more than 1.6 million people.

Indian Railways offers diverse options of train like the 5 star luxury trains, special trains for hilly routes, superfast Rajdhani trains, Duronto express and the regular passenger trains. Special Indrail passes are also available for the foreign tourists, wherein they can enjoy unlimited travel in India for a specific period of time. Discounts are also available for senior citizens (above 60 years of age).

Train Booking in India

Railways Station: The Indian Railways is known for having some of the lowest fair in the world and can be booked from the computerized railway ticketing system available at any railway station.

IRCTC: This is the official train ticket booking website of Indian Railways ( Booking is permitted 90 days prior to travelling. Travellers can easily book their through the use of debit / credit cards and online bank account.

OTAs: Tickets can be directly booked from Online Travel websites:

Reservation Against Cancellation (RAC) Tickets

RAC is a very unique system followed by the Indian railways wherein travellers can avail reserved accommodation. As per this facility, every coach has been allotted around 15 tickets reserved only for RAC listed passengers. This system of booking tickets guarantees a seat but no berths for sleeping. Therefore, this status allows the traveller to get into a coach and occupy a seat. In case a ticket is cancelled, the RAC ticket stands a better chance to gain the status of a confirmed ticket.

Waitlist (WL) Tickets

When all the RAC tickets are booked, the passenger is allotted a wait list ticket. In this status, the traveller has to wait for the cancellations. As long as there are cancellations, your WL status slowly improves to RAC status and then to a reserved status with berth & seat. Passengers with wait listed tickets are not allowed to travel in the reserved coaches. However, one can sit on the unreserved coach of the train. Wait listed tickets stand a chance of getting only till the time the railway passenger chart is prepared.

Accomodation Classes

Indian Railways has many class of travel that the traveller can choose from - AC First Class (1A), AC 2nd Class (2A), AC 3rd Class (3A), AC three tier (Economy) (3E), Sleeper Class (SL), AC Chair Car (CC), Seater Class (2S) and Unreserved Class (UR). For details, refer Accommodation Classes in Indian Trains.

Tatkal Scheme

The Indian Railways Department also offers a Tatkal scheme for the travellers. Under this scheme, travellers can book tickets for their respective desired destination just two days before the date of travel. This scheme is very beneficial to those who are travelling in emergency or those who were unable to book a ticket due to non availability. Under this scheme a flat rate of Rs 15 per person is charged for Second Sitting Class and Rs 150 for Sleeper & AC chair beside the price of the ticket. For AC 3 tier, AC 2 Tier and Executive Class, the charge is Rs 300 along with the fare charges.

The Tatkal counter opens at 8 am two days before the date of departure. However, the facility of name change and refund on cancellation is not permitted under this scheme.

Though it is possible to book tatkal tickets through online mode (at IRCTC) but it is advisable to book the ticket in person through the railway booking counter on the railway station itself as the website is usually down during peak time.

PNR Status

Passenger Name Record, or PNR is unique identification number for each booking. In order to know the PNR status of your ticket, you can directly log on to