Travel tips on Indian Railways

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Travel tips on Indian Railways - Go bananas on Indian Railways :)
Travel tips on Indian Railways - The UNESCO World Heritage 4-tier viaduct, one of many treasures to be seen from the Himalayan Queen heading from Kalka up to Simla.
Travel tips on Indian Railways - CHAI TIME!!! :)
Travel tips on Indian Railways - Roof top view - stevie bumps his head on his 2nd Class Sleeper upper berth :)
Travel tips on Indian Railways - Santa takes a ride on the vintage steam train that runs the line to Darjeeling.
Travel tips on Indian Railways - Indian Railways
Travel tips on Indian Railways - Darjeeling station

Travel tips on Indian Railways Reviews

bbayboyz bbayboyz
4 reviews
to the point Mar 07, 2011
Thanks for the awesome summary of your train travel. As an Indian I say Steve you have got it 100% right. Cant wait to hear from your plane travel.
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Stevie_Wes Stevie_W…
10 reviews
A few pointers on traveling on India's legendary rail network. Jan 14, 2010
Okay, nothing unknown to the initiated here, but for those of you a little nervous about the mass of decisions, planning and financial that await you when traveling in India here are a few beginners pointers for train travel :

* Think ahead - India has more than 1 billion people. Trains book up fast and often long in advance so book your tickets as early as possible. Yes this can be restrictive and impractical but it's better to have a ticket and not need it than the other way around. If you want to make big journeys to popular places at key holiday and festival times ( eg the southern exodus to Goa at Christmas and New Year) think waaaaaay in advance or either creatively re-route via less popular destinations or resign yourself to bus hell.

* Passport - Always have your passport on you when going to book tickets. You will often be asked for it and you don't want that one hour queue to have been for nothing right?!

* Waiting lists - if trains are fully booked then being put on the Waiting List is an option. Essentially once on the list, as you'd imagine, as tickets are cancelled or otherwise returned these seats/berths are then reallocated in order to those on the Waiting List. At peak times of year on peak services (the Goa exodus once again) this can stretch to as many as 250 people long at which point you haven't got a cat in hells chance and Indian Railways cease taking further reservations. If you've booked using an online service then they usefully will often send you regular e-mail updates advising how far up the list (or not) you've moved. Waiting List tickets are NOT confirmations and must be confirmed by visiting the station on the day of departure or earlier. BE CAREFUL a breakdown in communication doesn't lead to you being issued a Waiting List theoretical seat unwittingly (normally a 'W' number e.g. 'W23' indicating 23rd on the Waiting List where your berth number would normally be printed on the ticket) thinking you have a fully confirmed seat...which you won't in this instance.

* Often it is also possible just to pay a nominal fee (50 or so Rupees I think?) to have what basically amounts to a permission slip to get on board hopelessly overbooked services. This is permission to ride on the understanding you have NO seat or berth so you'll either be standing for 26 hours, sat on the floor, your bags or a kind accommodating baba's lap. I have not tried this. Sorry Baba, your knees are just a little too knobbly for my comfort.

* 'What if I don't know where I wanna be in five days time or what if I love/ hate a place when I get there and wish to leave later/ sooner than planned?' - Tickets can be rebooked (subject to availability) for a mere 40 Rupees (50p) and, screw it, even a loooooong train ride will only set you back about £5, 2nd Class, so don't sweat on the financials of just cancelling all together. Cancelling more than 24 hours ahead of scheduled departure will bring a good portion of your money back to you either when notified face to face at stations or online.

* Tourist Quota Tickets - Even on rammed train services there are often, if not always, a small special Tourist Quota of tickets held back for foreign travelers anyway. Always ask. Travel agents are not able to book these for you and often trips to main stations or offices of Indian Railways are required. Pesky other foreign nationals may still have pipped you to them!

* There are several Government websites and numerous independent sites that enable you to book, amend or cancel tickets on line. Some people swear by this and it can be very convenient. For me though it's just another web site to get a password for and drop my credit/Visa card details into and it'll only lead to more internet Inbox traffic and obligations only to travel the world via its internet cafes - so I don't bother. is the official line. and are two of a host of other options.

* Travel agents or not? - I prefer to go to source, the stations, but then I've had plenty of time to waste getting to know cities in this way. Just ask your agent how much commission they charge and see if you're happy. It's rarely more then 50 Rupees (65p) a cheap means of avoiding many potential hassles and much lost time. They will book online for you and print an e-ticket.

* There will usually be a ticket selling counter or sometimes even a separate office specifically given over to assisting foreign travelers at most stations (often the counter also servicing Senior Citizens, Disabled, MLAs and Freedom Fighters). Always at the major ones. The one at New Delhi station is a real A/C haven from the chaos downstairs! Do not ever trust or believe anyone that tells you any tale pertaining to such an office no longer being there or having moved elsewhere until you verify this with your own eyes. They're just trying to draw you away and scam you.

* 'What class of traveller am I?' - there are numerous classes usually on offer. Many daytime trains you can just go 2nd Class Seated. The most common and best advised choice for the budget conscious, especially where some night travel will be involved, is 2nd Class Sleeper. I'm not sure I've ever heard of First Class carriages, however 3rd, and then higher still, 2nd Class A/C (Air Conditioned) tend to perform this function both in terms of relative comforts afforded you (though the A/C is supposed to be sub-zero!) and economic burn. A/C tickets will average three, four or even more times your 2nd Class Sleeper ticket.

* Health - if you're not traveling with a bottle of alcohol-based hand-sanitizer already you should consider buying one. I hardly ever use them whilst other travelers don't seem to go 5 minutes without giving themselves a rub down. Either way, a lot of people with a lot of interesting and varying levels of personal hygiene travel Indian Railways and so it's advisable following trips to the toilets etc.

* Personal security - I haven't heard of any horror stories involving personal harm though the official line is 'No food from strangers!' but, though I have no hard tales to tell myself, bags and possessions do occasionally get nabbed (trains running into Varanasi are particularly ill-reputed in this area for some reason) so just be sensible. My friend foolishly put his obviously lap-top bag up on a luggage wrack, took his eyes off it for five minutes and it was gone in the same time. If you're traveling on your own like me, put all indispensable valuables in your day bag and without succumbing to psychotic levels of paranoia try not let it out of your sight. Some people have their backpacks bagged and chained up in constructs of such fiendish impregnability that Harry Houdini, were he to find himself there enclosed, would be royally stumped as to how to make his way out. Probably a little OTT (and heavy!). I was once tickled by a bag with a big luminous green rubber tag strapped to it declaring 'EXCUSE ME, NOT YOUR BAG!' I just pull the yellow outer rain-proofing cover of my bag into place and have just a 30 Rupee padlock which I tack to a zip loop as a nominal symbol of 'please leave me alone' but the bag is basically fully accessible if you really want to become the proud new owner of my dirty underwear and a Xeroxed Thomas Hardy novel.
Go bananas on Indian Railways :)
Queue No.1 : This is me 1 hour in…
Santa takes a ride on the vintage …
The UNESCO World Heritage 4-tier v…
7 / 7 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
Stevie_Wes says:
Thanks Riya... although, it goes without saying, both the practicalities and experience of traveling on Indian national rail must be quite different for nationals and non-nationals. The mixture of the two is the pleasure of it all for all though I think :)
Posted on: Feb 10, 2012
msarkar2810 says:
This article has been pretty evocative to me, and I've been living in India for the last twenty years lol.
You're very observant, I must say. Very informative!
Spot on! :)
Posted on: Feb 01, 2012
James1985 says:
Id say this is a pretty good article for anyone going to India!
Posted on: Dec 26, 2011
AnuragAshok AnuragAs…
2 reviews
To have a comfortable journey, follow these advise Dec 23, 2008
Train Travel in India can be an experience of a lifetime. It is a very large network. Generally, if you stick to the following you will have good memories:

1. Make an advance reservation prferable in a higher class (You will find it cheap). If possible, try traveling on Rajhdhani or Shatabdi Trains. You could book online at

2. Trains do not run on time. A delay of 20 minutes is treated like on Time :)

3. Railway Stations can be very crowded, dirty and claustrophobic

4. Tracks leading out of and into the city can be dirty and most likely pass through slums

5. Once you cross the city, country side will be beautiful and enchanting.

6. Be extra watchful for your luggage even in the compartment and ofcourse purse at all times

7. Do not accept anything to eat from any fellow traveller under any circumstance
Indian Railways
jethanad says:
Excellent tips on Indian Railways. I have been travelling quite a bit myself recently and do concur with everything.

I would love it more if you added something about what to eat and when, what to tip and when

thanks for this writeup
Posted on: Feb 26, 2010
vivekharri says:
Thank you for the information.

If you think that in place of booking ticket at railway reservation center and wait for hrs in a queue, lets book a ticket online to save all this time, then I will say you are wrong its better to book a ticket at reservation center than a web site
First of all this web takes long time to load, then again long time more than a 1-2 min to login, then you need to search your train, there it again takes time..., then you need to select a train and check the availability, if it available then say book ticket and then enter the name of passengers and also identity details of one passenger, then confirm that and then say book, then it will redirect you to payment page and again you need to select different payment gate way and then do the payment... and then take a print , big thing if you do not have a printer connected to your machine then ... ??? since there is no option to save the ticket.

To have a better site than this i searched for Indian trains i visited

The better way to search Indian trains looks great and it open fast, no pop-up, user friendly. Every information in a single page. This concept is good and some of the features like calendar, train running day has not come in a single website in this reviews. the most important features i have seen in this site that if the user does not know the station code then also he can see all the trains and it is only website which have a drop menu box for the important station from where you can choose the station name and also it has a date calendar from you can choose the date and it show the running day of the train so that you can know which day of the week this train is running. the other most important feature I have seen in this website that it show the train which does not have the reservation coach for the benefit of the user and they are showing the passenger train also which is also not available in any website. This site will enable the users to search train route and compare fares of most of the trains in India.
Posted on: Sep 01, 2008
India Map
1 review