Indian Railways demystified

India‘s railways is awesome and popular with locals and tourists alike. For this reason, it can sometimes be difficult to book a ticket. Below is some information to help you through the process.

If you would like to purchase a ticket online, you will need to set up an IRCTC/Cleartrip account. Please refer to the “Cleartrip IndiaMike Forum for instructions on how to set up your own account,” by going to

Quotas are the number of seats available in each train car. The ones that are important to tourists are:

General Quota: The general quota fills up quickly because people often book months in advance “just in case” they decide to travel and cancellation fees are minimal if you cancel the ticket up to 48 hours before departure.

Foreign Tourist Quota: You must present your passport in person at the railway station to obtain a ticket. The tourist quota option is only available at some railway stations and only for a limited number of trains.

Tatkal: Tatkal means urgent. Booking this quota begins at 10 a.m. one day before the train leaves from its source. For example, if a train starts from Jammu and you are trying to book it from Amritsar to Delhi, you will need to check the starting date from Jammu and book one day before that. Tickets sell quite quickly, so you will need to queue up early for a better chance of securing a one.

Premium Tatkal: New quota started by govermentt on trial bases. When implemented it will have increasing variable fares like flights/western rail tickets.

Tatkal and General Quota tickets may also be booked from the Indian Railways counter near the main enterance of the Golden Temple.

When booking a ticket, make sure you pay attention to the booking status.

Available: you will receive a confirmed ticket and a seat.

RAC: a RAC (Reservation Against Cancellations) tickets will give a confirmed tiket in your chosen class, but there is still a chance that you could end up with just a seat (very unlikely if you book early).

WL: You are on the waitlist. You can upgraded to RAC/Cnf if people in front of you on the waitlist cancel. When all of the available seats/berths in an individual train/class have been sold, the railways start selling RAC tickets (2A, 3A, FC & SL only).

All RAC/WL tickets have two “numbers”. The first number states your waitlist status at the time you book the ticket. The second number is your current waitlist position. For example, you buy a ticket online or at the reservation office, find the perfect train, choose your class, enter the date of the journey and then notice that the ticket offered is WL 10/WL 4. That means you are the 10th to buy a waiting list ticket and there have been 6 cancellations making your current waiting list number to be 4.




>48 hours before departure

Full after deduction of Clerkarge

120 for AC1/FC, 100 for AC2, 90 for AC3, 60 for SL.

<48 hours and >6 hours before departure

Full after deduction of Clerkarge

25% + clerkage deduction

< 6 hours before departure and < 2 hours after departure

Full after deduction of Clerkarge

50% + Clerkage deduction

> 2 hours after train departure

Full upto 3 hours after departure or first 2 hours after opening of counte

NO Refunds


Travelkhana is unique service designed to benefit rail travelers in their choice of quality food while traveling. You can easily order online or over the phone, and select the food of your choice from quality restaurants along the route you are traveling on. The restaurants are selected and verified by Travelkhana personnel on the basis of stringent quality parameters. Travel tracks train status and coordinates food preparation time with the restaurant to ensure you receive your meal at your seat, fresh and on time. Payment can be made with credit card or on delivery (please make sure you have correct change if you choose this option). Please go to to view the menu and place your order.

Indian Railways booking website: IRCTC.CO.IN

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