About Indian Railways
Indian Railway is the government-owned national railway system. Together with its subsidiary, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation, or IRCTC, which handles the catering, tourism and online ticketing operations, the Indian Ministry of Railways operates the world's fourth largest railway network.
Experiencing the bustle of Indian railway stations is a quintessentially Indian experience and your trip across the country will not be complete without taking an Indian train.
Currently there are no high-speed trains in the country but by 2022 about 100 Indian Railway new trains will be added to the rolling stock to increase the speed of services.
Indian Railway Network
18 zones and 73 divisions of Indian Railways cover every corner of the country except its northernmost tip with about 6,800 stations served. The total length of the rail routes reaches almost 70,000 km.
Some of the most popular railway routes include…
From Delhi to:
To Delhi from:
Indian Railway luxury trains
Besides usual passenger transportation, special tourist trains of the Indian Railway service popular tourist circuits across the country. Offered by IRCTC, there are combo packages for such routes that include rail travel and local transportation plus accommodation, food and guided tours.
These luxury tourist trains offer a 5-star hotel comfort with a variety of top-notch facilities available on-board.
India’s most celebrated luxury train is The Palace on Wheels that makes an 8 day-7 night circular trip around Rajasthan starting and terminating it in New Delhi.
Other luxury trains of India include:
- Royal Rajasthan on Wheels covers destinations in Rajasthan.
- Maharajas Express is a seasonal train, which runs on 5 different routes.
- Deccan Odyssey brings visitors to Maharashtra and Goa.
- Golden Chariot offers two routes in Indian South.
- Fairy Queen hauled by the world’s oldest operating steam engine, connects Delhi to Alwar.
- Buddhist Circuit Train, or Mahaparinirvan Express caters for Buddhist pilgrims.
Indian Railway Schedule
The complete Indian Railway timetable can be found on the official IR website.
For destination-specific information and availability of rail service please do revert to our website.
There is also a very handy tool for checking IR train cancellations and rescheduling. Called ‘National Train Enquiry System’ (NTES), it features a train tracker and allows to check seat availability, too.
IR trains – what to expect
There are three classes of AC sleeper carriages, or Indian Railway berth carriages.
The first class (AC1 or A1) is obviously the best choice with its two- or four-berth compartments.
Second class AC sleeper carriages are also ok with an open planning and four berths in each bay.
Third class AC features 6 berths per bay and is also open-plan.
SL, or Sleeper Class does not have AC and often becomes overcrowded. It is also open-plan with 6 bunks per bay. It is cheap and provides better opportunities for photos as windows can be opened here. Bedding is not provided even on longer routes.
There are 3 Chair Classes with Executive Chair Class (EC) with soft reclining seats and AC being the top choice though you will not find this class on every train.
CC, or standard AC Chair Class is a good choice for daytime journeys.
2S, or Second Class Seats are not recommended for long or overnight routes.
Indian Railway Fares and Tickets
Rail travel in India is wonderfully affordable and often more time-effective on longer routes than taking a plane.
Indian Railway reservation opens 120 days prior to the departure date for longer routes and 15–30 days in advance – for shorter routes.
Similarly, these are the time limits for Indian Railways online ticket booking.
Indian trains often do become fully booked weeks before departure date so it is highly recommended to reserve your berth or seat as early as possible.
If you fail to book your ticket in advance there is still a chance to get a last-moment deal.
The system that allows passengers to grab tickets on trains which are fully booked long before the departure date is called ‘tatkal’.
Meaning ‘immediate’ in Hindu, Tatkal booking system opens at 10 am the day before travel. It basically means that Tatkal ticket booking time and period vary depending on the departure time of your train and can be from 14 hours to almost 38 hours before the actual departure.
There is a small amount of seats and berths reserved for Tatkal tickets on many popular trains. Tatkal ticket price is slightly higher than a standard fare.
Train tickets booking in India
Indian railway tickets can be booked online or if you are already in India bought at the stations.
For online ticket booking, your options include both the official Indian Railways booking website, or IRCTC, and private agencies.
The first option gives you full access to all the trains, Tourist Quotas, Reservations Against Cancellations, Wait lists and Tatkal booking. On the negative side is the necessity to go through a rather complicated registration process.
The second option costs slightly more but considering that Indian train tickets do not cost much, it is a minor issue. Also, such ticketing agencies, including us, neither sell RAC tickets nor put you on waitlists – all tickets booked are booked and confirmed. With this option, Indian Railway online booking is an easy and fast process.
Indian Railways connect all major and many of the minor destinations across the country. Basically, you can travel between almost any two destinations in India by train.
Indian railway tickets are very affordable.
Indian train booking system is unique and may seem too complex with its Tourist quota, Reservations Against Cancellations, Wait lists and Tatkal but nevertheless efficient.
Travelling by train in India is the best way to get glimpses of the real local life and mingle with the locals.
In many cases, if you want to travel in an AC sleeper carriage, you need to reserve much in advance.
Carriages of cheaper classes even with reserved berths or seats (SL and second class seats) may become overcrowded.
Cleanliness of toilets is often an issue in cheaper classes.