Back in 1836 came the first Indian Experimental Railway Line near Chintadripet Bridge (presently in Chennai). The pressure of building Railway line by East India Company proves to be fruitful today as presently, India has the fourth largest Railway Network in the World. Establishment of a fine railway line has been a con not only to people wishing to meet their relatives or people travelling to their job destinations but also to the travel enthusiasts. Who doesn't love to travel? Each one of us wants a break from our regular schedule to relax the mind, body, and soul. To some travelling seems a mode of relaxation but to some travelling is everything as it is their passion. Nothing except Indian Railways can be an easier and pocket-friendly way to reach out the unique travelling destinations in the country. At times booking tickets, finding the right prices, choosing the right train, etc. becomes a cumbersome task. Therefore, here are a few points that will be a solution to every railway related query.
1. Different Classes In Which You Can Travel
First Class AC or 1A
Fares being similar to airfare, this is the most expensive class. It has four berth cabins and two berth coupes. Privacy and Security are at par as the doors can be bolted from inside. An attendant on call is present, and bedding is included in the fare. This Air Conditioned coach is available only on popular routes.
AC two tier or 2A
Mostly found in overnight journeys, it offers complete comfort zone to the passengers. It lacks lockable doors but has curtains along the gangway. Bedding and reading lights are included in the fare.
AC three tier or 3A
It contains air-conditioned coaches with 64 sleeping berths. Bedding is involved in the fare with no curtains and reading lights present.
Executive Class Chair Car or EC
Air-conditioned chair coach with spacious seating and legroom. With four seats in a row, it is amiable for a day travel between 2 different cities.
AC Chair Car or CC
An Air-conditioned coach with five seats in a row. Also available in Double Decker Express.
Being the most common coach, it has regular sleeping coaches with three berths vertically facing each other but without any air conditioning.
Second Seater or 2S
It is similar to CC with NON AC coaches. Flying Ranee and Valsad Passenger are the only trains using NON-AC Double Decker coaches.
2. Ways of booking tickets
Tickets should be booked at least a month or two before to get the best seating options with to exigency of booking in tatkal.
Advance IRCTC reservations can be made online either at the official website of Indian Railways i.e. www.indianrail.gov.in or other portals like MakeMyTrip, Justdial, Booking.com, Paytm, etc. Booking Timings are 12.30 AM - 11.30 PM
You need to travel the nearest reservation office. The tickets can be booked at the counter between 8am-8pm(Mon-Sat) and 8am-1pm(Sun). A plus point is that you get the seating information before the payment whereas, in the online process you get to know it after the payment has been made. Reliable for Tatkal Bookings.
3. Indrail Passes
Following the motto of 'Atithi Devo Bhava', Indian Railway Association has launched special passes for foreign national. Through these passes, they can travel without any reservation on Indian Rail Lines. Also, no extra charges are paid for catering services provided in Shatabdi or Rajdhani Express Trains. These are available for a period varying from half a day to 90 days. Payment for the same is made either in US Dollars or Sterling Pounds. The validity starts from the time of departure and is valid for one class lower when travelling in Rajdhani/Shatabdi Express. Rest passes are valid for the class they are booked. The foreign pass holder is not required to pay any reservation fee or surcharge for the journey
4. Travel like Royals
Enjoy the royal treatment provided by the Indian Railways by travelling through the following trains.
Palace On Wheels
To promote tourism in Rajasthan, Indian Railways in association with Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation launched Palace on Wheels. Each salon inside glorifies the cultural ethos of the state. It has 23 coaches named after former Rajput states allowing 124 passengers to travel. Also, it has 2 restaurants namely, The Maharaja and Maharani. It has Wifi enabled coaches.
Royal Rajasthan on Wheels
Modelled on Palace on Wheels, it follows the same route as it through Rajasthan. Tourists are taken to enjoy the vibrant culture of Indian state with wildlife and heritage sites among them. It has 14 cabins having even the smallest luxury amenity. Swarn Mahal and Sheesh Mahal are the two dining cars in the train.
To boost tourism on the Maharashtrian route, Indian railways gave birth to Deccan Odyssey. The majestic train journey provides you with an amazing journey through Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and other regions of Western Ghats. It offers 40 deluxe cabins in 10 coaches. It offers itineraries consisting of 8 days and 7 nights.
Connecting the important tourist spots in the Indian states of Karnataka, Goa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry depending on the selected itinerary, it offers complete luxurious treatment to its passengers. It has 44 cabins in 11 coaches that are named after dynasties that ruled the region. It has internet connectivity via USB Stick.
It is also known as The Buddhist Circuit Train. It takes its passengers on 8 days 7 nights spiritual tour including various Buddhist places across Northern India. Pilgrim spots like Varanasi, Lumbini, Kushinagar, etc. It offers three classes namely, first class, two tier, and three tier.
4. Information Regarding Tatkal and Waitlist
The scheme is used for booking journeys in a very short notice. The services for the same open a day before the journey date. For AC coaches it opens at 10 AM and for sleeper coaches at 11 AM. While booking tatkal tickets, only one person has to present an ID Proof during the journey on behalf of everyone. Also, same charges are applicable on tatkal tickets during both peak and non-peak season.
The Unsold tickets are given in the name of persons on the waiting list. Tatkal tickets can be cancelled but are nonrefundable whereas, the ones in waiting list are refundable.
The tickets can be booked online prior the day of the journey. The price is higher than tatkal tickets. It provides an assured reserved berth, unlike tatkal reservation. Also, no concessions are offered, be it a child or a senior citizen. The services are applicable only on selected trains.
It is provided in all classes, and almost every train has it for foreign nationals. It allows foreign nationals to get seats even on short notice. Passport and visa documents are to be carried necessarily. Agra, Ahmadabad, Delhi, Bangalore, Dehradun, Chennai, Goa, Lucknow, Jaipur, etc. are some states whose reservation offices provide FTQ (Foreign Tourist Quota). Make sure quota check box is set to foreign tourist while querying the availability of the tickets.
5. ID Proofs Required
Passport and Visa are required to be taken along the train tickets while travelling in the Indian railways.
6. Availability of bedrolls
Bedding facilities are provided in 1A, 2A and 3A. The cost of bedding is included in the tickets only.
Sleeper class coaches do not have proper bedding facilities. You can either take your own sleeping bags or could book a bedroll kit online via IRCTC website. The bedroll facility is available to both e-ticket passengers and confirmed ticket passengers.
A kit involving 2-bed sheets and a pillow will cost you Rs.140 while a blanket kit with a non-woven fabric will cost you Rs.110.
7. Clothes to wear while travelling
Wear comfortable and fully covered clothes such as cotton tee and lowers to travel with utmost ease. It is advisable to carry a woollen jacket while you are travelling in AC compartments.
This was a brief account about Indian Railways which will surely prove helpful if you choose Indian Railways as your travel partner.
8. Travelling With Dogs
If you wish to take your dog along while travelling in Railways, you need to book all the seats in a cabin of AC First Class. Dogs are not permitted in other classes. However, dogs can be carried in the Luggage/Brake van upon prior booking, and the tariff will depend on the type of train. Passengers should reach out to Parcel office to book the travel of their dog,
9. Other Things To Be Kept In Mind
Ensure your safety by checking the seats and the area nearby thoroughly.
Hygiene should be maintained to avoid infections. Therefore, carry hand sanitizers, face wash, toothbrush kit and every tiny thing of your necessity.
If on a long journey carry light food to avoid any stomach related issue.
Give extra care to your children and keep a regular check on them to avoid any mishap.
Keep all your important documents like Visa, Passport, and other ID proofs so that you can travel swiftly