How to make train reservations in India
Making a train reservation today may be complicated and time consuming for the local Indian populations but foreign tourists have just to follow a simple procedure to get railway reservations.
There is no need to pay agents anything to make train reservations for you when vacationing in India.
Reservation system for Indian Railways is now fully computerized. Reservations can be made at almost all railway stations. Most routes require reservations several weeks or even months in advance.
Some of these places are overcrowded and I have often heard that people wait in line for hours and when they reach the ticket window find out that the dates they wish to travel on are full. They either end up getting wait list tickets or no tickets.
While online booking is now available the bulk of the population so far does not have computer and internet facility to avail this service. Hence long lineups at reservation offices. There are better options for foreign tourists and NRIs to make train reservations.
Train reservations for foreign tourists traveling in India.
Indian Railways offer some facilities to foreign tourists traveling in India by reserving a certain number of seats on each train exclusively for foreign tourists. Reservations can be made at International tourist bureaus.
Best place to make a reservation and buy a ticket for foreign tourist and NRIs is the Tourist bureaus located in most major cities.
In Delhi there is a reservation office at the railway station itself on the first floor. There is also an office at the Indira Gandhi airport arrivals lounge for passengers to make reservations.
Tourists can make reservations and purchase train tickets from the foreign tourist quota, however they must pay in US Dollars or Pound Sterling. Indian Rupees are accepted on providing proof that foreign currency was exchanged for the Indian currency. Such proof can be in the form of encashment certificates issued when tourists exchange currency. On some occasions even an ATM receipt that shows a foreign card being used is accepted.
The procedure is simple.
Visit the foreigners reservation office
Fill in the reservation form (Short one page form that requires your selection of train, the class of travel you prefer, your passport to confirm your status as a foreign tourist.
Pay the appropriate train fare (there are no extra charges for this service) and take your reservation ticket.
Can Foreigners buy rail tickets online?
Yes, they can. There are two types of online booking facilities offered by Indian Railways. (Only the E-Ticket is a valid online reservation option for foreigners.)
1. I - Ticket
2. E - Ticket
Purchase of I tickets by foreigners is not recommended as these tickets are sent by courier to an Indian address only. Hence overseas tourists cannot avail this facility unless they have a local address.
E- Ticket on the other hand is what foreign tourists can purchase online for their train travel in India. In the case of E-Tickets there are no tickets sent out by courier as the person making the booking online just prints them on their printer.
Tickets can be booked online up to 60 days in advance. E-Ticket holders must take their ticket printout and photo ID with them when they board the train. In case you forget to take the printout the ticket checker will charge you Rupees 50 per ticket extra as a penalty for not having your ticket printout. A credit card is required for online booking.
Tips for E-Ticket Reservations:
√ To make an online reservation for trains in India you need to register first. Registration is a simple and free process and takes only a few minutes. To register visit http://www.irctc.co.in/ or go directly to the new registrant page by clicking register now.
√ The only foreign credit card that the railways presently seem to be accepting on their website is the American Express card. (American Express adds 1.8 percent to the price of the ticket as a service charge,)
√ If you forget to take your ticket booking printout on the train the ticket checker will charge you Rs 50 for each passenger you booked the ticket for as a penalty for not having your booking printout with you.
√ Tourist cannot make online reservations with Indrail passes.
√ In case there is no seat available online for your preferred date of travel. There is always the possibility that you may get a seat from the foreign tourist quota. However you cannot access the foreign quota online. This has to be done in person when you are in India at the tourist reservation bureaus or at most major Railway stations.
Additional details of other travel options for tourists traveling in India as well as fare a fare chart for the Indrail Pass is available on our 'Travel Incentives' page.