Why overnight travel the American Lady asked on board express train to New Delhi. I had boarded the train bound to Delhi and her question struck me?
"Well you could have saved on time if you had traveled by Flight to the Capital" , I replied. "The Cost" she replied tersely. Well that's it, Indian Railway is the most affordable mode of transport in India.
Making a railway journey is India is easy but getting reservations is hell of a difficult job. The reservation for a travel date opens about three months before. But if it is the rush time with few days all the ticket pertaining to the reserved classes are booked.
There are four types of coaches in Indian trains. The coach has no reservation and one can travel in an unreserved ticket. This is the most uncomfortable mode of travel with perhaps no place to sleep. This is used mostly by the poor who cannot afford a reserved ticket.
The other three reserved classes are NON AC 2nd class, III rd AC, 2nd AC and oops the First Class Cabins that makes it five. Well the 2nd class is reasonable comfortable and you have a separate birth to sleep in, but no climate control.
AC coaches are much comfortable with the First AC being the coolest. You have to book berths in these classes in advance. There are number of ticket booking centers all over India where you can approach and get your ticket reserved or in waiting. You will be lucky if you get ticket in RAC and not one wait list at least you get to sit. Reservation against cancellation is what RAC stands for.
Each ticket has a unique PNR number which assigned to you or your ticket. In case of wait list you can check the PNR status using the number on on line search tool. You can do it using the SMS service as well.
You can always ask your travel agent to book railway tickets for you if you have not arrived in India yet.
The tickets can also be booked online. You can book the ticket online at the Indian Railway site. This ticket is known as eticket and has become popular mode of railway reservation in India. One does not need to stand on a que for this. You have to remember that you need an identification for this while traveling.
Tatkal facility is available two days before the journey to book this you have to approach the booking center. You have to carry a photo identity for booking in Tatkal. This photo identity could be a Indian Pan Card issued by the Income Tax department. There are various other photo identity cards available in India. Hence you have a wide choice use a driving license or the latest UID Card issued by the UIDAI Organization in India.
Whence you travel on eticket or Tatkal ticket carry the same photo identity that you used for bookings. Any other will not work. This is a recent security and identification change by Railways.
When on board you need to present your ticket to the ticket checker or TT. You have to present the photo identity in case of Tatkal and eticket along with.
Keep the ticket safe as you chug along. Happy Journey.