Indian Railway for International tourists

India is a land of diversity. More than 20 official languages, multiple religions, variety of cuisines, tonnes of ancient monuments, royal palaces, beautiful landscape sceneries and what not. To truly experience breath of Indian culture and history travel is the key. It would take days, months and years to experience each aspect of India and still there would be some left for your next trip.

To travel within India there are multiple modes and one such mode is Railways (trains). The thrill of exploring India would be incomplete without having a knack of the third most biggest passenger rail network in the world after United States and China.

Indian Railway Image

Let’s first understand how to access information pertaining to such busiest network.

Trainman’s guide to Indian Railways

  1. Check www.trainman.in for all train information along with its schedule, seat availability and fares for your preferred destinations in India.
  2. Select one train from the list of trains running on that route depending on the timings suitable to you and the availability of seats.
  3. Check for its berth availability for your preferred class. For the seats that are vacant status would be “Available” and for seats that are full status would be “Waiting”. Waiting means that you will have to wait till someone who booked seat before you cancels their ticket. In that case his/her seat would be given to the next waiting status passenger.
  4. There is one category called RAC (Reservation Against Cancellation) which means one is allowed to board the train but will have to share a single berth with another passenger. Know more about waiting list and RAC.
  5. Indian Railways offer multiple classes of travel which differ in comfort, privacy and air-conditioning. The recommended class of travel is first ac (code: 1A) or second ac (code: 2A) for long distance and executive class (code: EC) for short distance journeys.
  6. Rajdhani category and duronto category trains in India are fully air conditioned long distance trains having 1A, 2A and 3A class of travel only while Shatabdi category trains is fully air conditioned short distance trains having CC and EC class of travel only. These trains are recommended for travel as they usually run on time.
  7. Once you decide to book a seat in a particular train and class on a route log onto www.irctc.co.in using your login Id and password or sign up (If you do not have an active account). This is the official site to book train tickets in India however there are some private partners who have taken license from Indian Railways and sell train tickets on their site/app.
  8. For signing up on irctc website you will be asked to enter your personal information and will have to create User Id and Password which you will need every time you log into this site. Also for International/NRI users with ISD code other than 91 will have to pay one time registration fees of Rs.100 + taxes after successful registration on first login.

Luxury Trains

Luxury trains

Railways in India also offer luxury experience by the mode of luxury trains (http://www.trainman.in/blog/luxury-trains-in-india/) to get you through a Maharaja experience. Read above link to get complete idea on these luxury trains.

To help foreign tourists understand what Indian Railways have on plate for the foreign tourists read on.

Foreign Tourist Quota

Foreign tourists who visit India with a valid passport and tourist visa can book tickets either online from www.irctc.co.in or Offline through International Tourist Bureaus located at various cities. Indian Railways reserves small number of seats in certain trains for foreign tourists or NRI’s who visit India on tourist visa. These reserved number of seats are known as Foreign Tourist Quota (FTQ). This is granted on some of the trains and not all trains are allocated Foreign Tourist Quota. Given the long waiting numbers for a single berths in trains in India, this FTQ can provide some relief for foreign tourists. Passengers can book tickets under Foreign Tourist Quota online from the official booking website of the Indian Railways. Under Services tab on the irctc website there is an option to choose Foreign Tourist Quota Booking. There are some reserved seats under this quota for some of the trains whose allocation is done per coach as following:

  • Eight Berths (two cabins) in First AC (1A) coach.
  • Four berths (one cabin) in First AC cum Second AC coach.
  • Eight berths (two inside berth cabins) per Second AC coach.
  • Ten seats in Executive class (EC) coaches.
Foreign tourist quota

So under Foreign Tourist Quota a user can book only in first ac (1A), second ac (2A) or executive class (EC) of travel. To avail tickets under this quota users will need to register themselves on irctc website using their international mobile number and valid email id. These details will be used to verify user via OTP on mobile number and email id provided by the individual. Passengers will need to enter their passport number to book e-tickets. Unlike domestic passengers for whom booking window opens 120 days in advance, foreign tourists can book tickets in FT quota upto 365 days in advance. Berth allocation in such cases are done when the booking period starts for the date of journey which is 120 days. Before that passenger can only book ticket and get themselves registered. Although they can also book under normal advance reservation period (of 120 days) and can book tatkal tickets too. An additional charge of Rs 200/- + Taxes per ticket is applicable for all the tickets booked under Foreign Tourist Quota. User can make payments through International Debit/Credit card either through AMEX (American Express International Cards) or ATOM (for all International Cards). After the ticket is booked, the same is communicated on the email id and phone number provided by the user at the time of registration.

International tourist bureau

If the berth is not allocated to FT Quota users for any reason, cancellation SMS/Email is sent to them communicating about the same. Refund in such case is sent back to the same account which was used at the time of booking.

In case a passenger wants to cancel their ticket booked under this quota, flat 50% of the fare is deducted in addition to the cancellation charges applicable while refunding the amount. If the time remains less than 4 hours of the scheduled departure of train and a passenger cancels their ticket booked under this quota, they don’t get any refund.

For booking ticket offline there are International Tourist Bureaus at various locations in India. They provide assistance to foreign tourists and NRIs regarding bookings, enquiries, reservation and travel planning. They remain open from 6:00 to 23:00. All Payments are generally accepted in US Dollars, Pounds, Sterling, Euro and Indian Rupees here.

India Rail Pass

International Tourist Bureaus also issue Indian Rail passes to the foreign tourists holding valid passport and visa. Just like in any other country these passes can be used to travel as the tourist likes in entire Indian Railways without any route restriction within the validity period of the pass. However, this pass does not guarantee reserved seats. It is highly recommended to do berth reservation early to avoid any last minute hassle. Indian trains are crowded most of the time and without reservation you might be forced to cancel your journey despite having a valid pass. IndRail Passes are very convenient for tourists and it provides flexibility to travel anywhere in India. IndRail Pass holder is not required to pay any reservation charges, superfast charges or any other additional charge applicable under general quota tickets. Even the catering service provided in Rajdhani, Shatabdi or other Express trains are covered in this pass and there is no additional charge for the same.

Indian Railway Paa for foreign tourists

The Indian Rail passes can also be availed through General Sales Agents appointed abroad and Rail Travel Agents appointed in India. A tourist can obtain reservation against passes from any reservation office of the Indian Railways. To make a reservation in your preferred train and class you can ask your agency that got you the pass or you can make it yourself at stations. Tariff for Indian Rail Pass is listed below. This fare structure is in US DOLLARS:

Period of Validity First AC Class First Class/ AC 2-tier/ AC 3-tier/ AC Chair Car Sleeper Class Second Class (Non AC)
Adult Child
Adult Child
Adult Child
½ Day (12 Hours)
$47 $29
$26 $13
$11 $6
1 Day (24 Hours)
$95 $47
$43 $22
$19 $10
2 Days (48 Hours)
$160 $80
$70 $35
$30 $15
4 Days
$220 $110
$110 $55
$50 $25
7 Days
$270 $135
$135 $68
$80 $40
15 Days
$370 $185
$185 $95
$90 $45
21 Days
$396 $198
$198 $99
$100 $50
30 Days
$495 $248
$248 $126
$125 $65
60 Days
$800 $400
$400 $200
$185 $95
90 Days
$1060 $530
$530 $265
$235 $120

This means if a passenger books a 15 day pass for AC two tier class, he/she is allowed to travel for continuous 15 days in Second AC Class of any train by the Indian Railways. The IndRail Passes are hourly based and its validity starts from the departure time of train. It is valid for one class lower than the class for which it is issued when travelling by any Rajdhani Express train. For other trains, passes are valid only for the class for which it is issued.

One can obtain IndRail pass from major Railway stations too namely Agra Cantt, Agra City, Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Aurangabad, Bangalore City, Howrah, Gorakhpur, Hyderabad, Chennai, Jaipur, Mumbai, Rameshwaram, New Delhi, Secunderabad, Trivandrum Central, Vasco Da Gama, Varanasi, Vadodara, and Vijaywada.

Tourist Places in India

Let’s see what are the top tourist locations in India and example trains from Delhi to other tourist locations in India:

To: Other locations Must Visit Places Best trains to undertake Other Remarks
Agra - Uttar Pradesh One of the wonders of the World-Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Mehtab Bagh, Tomb of Mariam-uz-Zamani, Jama Masjid, Moti Masjid, Guru Ka Tal, Ram Bagh Gatimaan Express (12050), Bhopal Shatabdi (12002), Banglore Rajdhani (22692) Shatabdi & Rajdhani train provide meal on train the cost of which is included in ticket fare.
Mumbai formerly known as Bombay - Maharashtra Marine Drive, Gateway of India, Nehru Planetarium, Mount Mary Church, Siddhivinayak Temple, Haji Ali Dargah, Nariman Point, Gandhi Museum, Colaba etc. Mumbai Rajdhani (12952), August Kranti Rajdhani (12954), Delhi Mumbai Duronto (22210) Opt for 1A or 2A classes of Rajdhani trains for a pleasant journey experience.
Jaisalmer - Rajasthan Jaisalmer Fort, Patwon Ki Haveli, Sam Sand Dunes & Camel Safari, Bada Bagh, Jain Temple, Gadisar Lake, Desert National Park, Nath Mal ki Haveli, Thar Heritage Museum, Salim Singh Ki Haveli Delhi Jaisalmer Express (14659), Howrah Jaisalmer Express (12371), Corbet Prk Link (25014) Train number 12371 runs only on Tuesdays while other trains runs on all days of the week.
Udaipur - Rajasthan City Palace, Bagore Ki Haveli, Lake Pichola and FatehSagar Lake, Kumbalgarh Fort, Ambrai Ghat, Jag Mandir, Jagdish Temple, Saheliyon Ki Bari, Monsoon Palace/ Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary, Shilpgram etc. Chetak Express (12981), Mewar Express (12963), NJP Udaipur Express (19602) Train 19602 has bit peculiar time to reach Udaipur (03:55 AM).
Goa Dudhsagar Falls, Baga Beach, Calangute Beach, Palolem Beach, Anjuna Beach, Cruise and Casino, Colva Beach, Aguada Fort, Chapora Fort, Basilica Church, Se Cathedral Church etc. Goa Rajdhani (22414), Trivandrum Rajdhani (12432), Delhi Ernakulam Duronto (12284) It is more convenient to take a direct flight from New Delhi to Goa as the distance is more and it will take at least 28 hours to reach by railways.
Jaipur Amer Fort, Nahargarh Fort, City Palace, Akshardham, Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar, Birla Planetarium, Jal Mahal, Laxmi Narayan Temple, Albert Hall Museum, Panna Meena ka Kund, Anokhi Museum etc. Ajmer Shatabdi (12015), JP Double Decker (12986), Dee Jaipur Special (09726) Road transport between Delhi and Jaipur is good and has some scenic beauty. One can also opt for car/cab to travel from Delhi to Jaipur.
Varanasi Banaras Ghats, Sacred Ganges River, Assi Ghat, Kriti Gallery, Manikarnika Ghat, Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Dasaswamedh Ghat, Sarnath, Golden Temple, Dhamek Stupa, Monkey Temple (Durga Temple), Tibetan Temple etc. Poorva Express (12382), Swatantrta Express (12562), Shiv Ganga Express (12560) Varanasi is known for the sacred river Ganga and numerous temples.
Kerala Tea Gardens (Munnar), Guruvayur Temple, Kerala Backwaters, Athirappally Waterfalls (Thrissur), Vadakkunathan Temple (Thrissur), Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Varkala Beach, Bekal Fort Trivandrum Rajdhani (12432), Kerala Express (12626), Kerala Sampark Kranti (12218) The journey between Delhi and Kerela is quite long and typically it takes more than 3 days to reach. So if you have time constraints, you should opt for flight.
Khajuraho Khajuraho Temples, Lakshmana Temple, Panna national Park, Ajaigarh Fort, Raneh Falls, Beni Sagar Dam, Jain Museum, Archaeological Museum, Shantinath Temples U P Sampark Kranti (12448) Khajuraho is known for Nagara style archaeological symbolism and their erotic sculptures. They are UNESCO’s World Heritage sites in India.

Fare structure for Indian Railways

Below is the price comparison for different classes for trains from New Delhi to other cities in India. All prices shown are in Indian Rupees (INR):

City Name and Distance from Delhi 1A 2A CC EC
Agra (200 Kms) 1565 1350 765 1150
Mumbai (1380 Kms) 4775 4125 - -
Jaisalmer (915 Kms) 2930 1725 - -
Udaipur (675 Kms) 2640 1460 - -
Goa (1909 Kms) 5890 5055 - -
Jaipur (305 Kms) - - 875 1300
Varanasi (770 Kms) 2685 1590 - -
Kerala (2844 Kms) 7440 6400 - -
Khajuraho (604 Kms) - 1360 - -
foreign tourist passport

Trainman’s recommendations

  1. For Rajdhani trains go for 1A or 2A class of travel for a pleasant journey.
  2. Keep your passport and pass/ticket handy at all times.
  3. Must visit places in India - Agra (Taj Mahal), New Delhi, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Varanasi, Goa, Kerala, Mumbai.
  4. Do your prior reservations beforehand for the train you are intending to board. There is usually rush in major trains in India at all times and you might end up not getting a berth on your preferred class.
  5. Look out for general quota seats first as general quota is for everyone and anyone can book under this quota. If it gets full in general quota then only lookout for foreign tourist quota seats under which you might get the seats.
  6. For any queries or assistance regarding travelling in India feel free to contact us at foreigntourist@trainman.in. This support email specially caters to international travellers who want to visit India.