Taking the train in India can be a confusing experience to say the least. We talked about our first India rail experience in a post a few weeks ago and since then we have learned a few more things that we thought we should share with you. You can read about how to book a train ticket from the India Rail office at our post India Rail Travel Tips and Tricks
The thing about traveling by train in India is that it is always overbooked and very busy. You would be very wise to know your itinerary and book ahead. Unfortunately for Dave and I, we are on a very loose schedule and like to go with the flow. We never know how long we want to stay in a place, so we don’t book travel ahead of time. This has been the cause of many a headache here in India for us.
But we have started to manage to figure the old India Rail system out!
Here are some tips to make your train travel smoother through India. In a previous blog post we told you about how to book a ticket at the train station and that is still the same. We haven’t learned anything new. But we have learned a lot about booking a train ticket online at the India Rail website. And we have learned all about how to board the train, so here goes…
1. go to http://indianrail.gov.in/ to get your train number, information on what trains go to each station and the station codes
2. After you have all of the train information for your destination, go to http://www.irctc.co.in/ to book your train ticket. You can choose from several classes, but 2AC and 3Ac are your best choices for overnight trains. SL is a sleeper class and also a good choice, but you will not have air conditioning and less security.
3. Many countries have problems with their credit cards working. We thought that it was just us being Canadian, but we talked to others from the U.K. that had the same problem. You can get around this. When they ask you what payment system you want to use, choose Axis PG as your method of payment for Canadians. For other countries, you will just have to keep trying the different methods of payment from the list to see what works for you. You will find something that works. If we did, anyone can.
4. Unless you book your train well ahead of time, you will most likely have a wait list. If the wait list isn’t too long, you have a good chance of having your rail ticket confirmed on the day of departure. Especially if you are on 3AC. 2AC can be a problem because there are less seats in that class.
5. Your reservation will have a PNR number. If you have an unconfirmed train ticket (meaning your bought your ticket but you are on a wait list), you will need to check this on your travel date to see where you are sitting and to see if your seat is confirmed. You can check this on the website http://indianrail.gov.in/ You can also check by telephone, just ask your hotel reception what number to call in that city. It will also be on your eticket or railway ticket.
6. A confirmed train ticket will have your seat number already printed on it. A Wait List ticket will not, but when you check your PNR number, it will give you a seat and car number.
7. At the train station, you need to find what track and platform you will be waiting on it. Trains are very long and some stations are very confusing with multiple tracks. Knowing where you need to be to get on the train will save a lot of headaches and keep you from missing your train all together.
8. To find this out, go to the computer or board to find your platform. Look for your train number and class on your train ticket and then match it to the board. It will then tell you the platform where you will be boarding. .
9. Know the name of the station and the stop before yours. Most trains don’t announce stops so you have to keep a lookout.
10. Sometimes train stations in India are very basic and they will only have computer print outs stapled to a board. You will be able to find your seat number and car number but you may not know what platform you will be leaving from. The best advice that we can give you is, find a spot in the middle of the platform and keep an eye out for your car number as the train passes. Then get ready to run. Normally 2 and 3 AC are at the front or the back of the train. This can be a problem because if you are standing at the front, your car may be at the back or visaversa. We reiterate, Trains in India are very long and if you are at the wrong end of the train when it approached, you will have a very long run to your car.
Good luck with your India Rail travel experience!
Hope this helps.
We received some great advice in comments on our other post, check it out!