The advance booking for indian train ticket opens 120 days before the date of journey. Tickets can be booked both offline at Passenger Reservation System (PRS) or online using irctc website. Ticket booked online can be an e-ticket ( which is a print-out / sms) or an i-ticket wherein the PRS ticket is couriered to the passenger.
All the tickets issued have a unique 10-digit PNR (Passenger Name Record) which you should quote for any correspondence regarding your ticket / journey. The ticket also contains all the other journey details like train number, journey date, travel class, origin, destination, ticket status, berth details for confirmed tickets, passenger details etc. Maximum of six passengers can travel through one ticket. But just having a ticket does not guarantee that your journey is confirmed. It all depends on the ticket status. All the passengers in a ticket are assigned a ticket status which can be waiting (WL), RAC (a half berth), or confirmed (full berth). These are explained below in detail:
Waiting List (WL): If the passenger status is marked as WL followed by a number then the passenger has a waitlisted status. This can get confirm only if the passengers who have booked before you for the same journey cancel their ticket. For example if the status is GNWL 4 / WL 3 , then this means that you have a waiting list of 3 (the latter number) and your ticket will get confirmed only if 3 passengers who have booked before you for the same journey happen to cancel their journey. Similarly, GNWL/AVAILABLE means that current status of your ticket is CONFIRMED because some passengers who booked before you have cancelled their tickets. This status also gives some insight into the current ticket cancellation trends for this journey. For more on this, visit Trainman's trend analysis. In case the passenger status is waitlisted even after the chart preparation, then the passenger is not allotted any berth. If all the passengers on an e-ticket have waitlisted status after final chart preparation, then the ticket gets automatically cancelled and the amount is refunded back to the user’s account. In this case, the passengers should NOT board the train. If at least one passenger has RAC or confirm status while other passengers on same ticket have waiting list status, then the e-ticket DOES NOT get cancelled automatically and the passengers are allowed to board the train. Waiting list can be of various types:
If you have booked a waiting ticket or you are deciding whether to book a ticket where current status is waiting, then check your chances of confirmation i.e. ticket will get confirmed or not.
Reservation Against Cancellation (RAC): If a user has been issued an RAC ticket, then most likely his ticket will get confirmed by the time of chart preparation and he will get a berth. In case the ticket remains RAC even after chart preparation (if the coach number is preceded by R i.e. RB1, 31 means RAC seat no 31 in coach B1), then user is allotted a half berth (seat) i.e. two persons having RAC ticket status are allotted one side-lower berth. The TTE is obligated to allot berths which are cancelled after chart preparation to these RAC passengers.
Confirmed (CNF): In this case the passenger gets a full berth for the journey. In case of first AC (1A), the passenger may not get berth details even for confirmed ticket when ticket is issued. This is because the berth allotment for this class is done manually by the TTE on chart preparation.