One of the largest railway networks in the world, the Indian Railway connects more than 7,500 stations across India and has a network spread across over 65,000 km. Divided into various railway zones including Southern Railway, Northern Railway, Eastern Railway, Western Railway and Central Railway. Indian railways have a central reservation system and run more than 10,000 trains daily.
Railways are considered to be the most economical and well-connected means of transport in the country and lakhs of passengers use this system to travel to different towns, cities and states across the length and breadth of the country. Also, it is one of the preferred means to transport heavy goods.
History of Indian Railways
Right from the first train that connected Bombay to Thane in 1853 in India, the Indian Railways has evolved into one of the largest networks in the world and runs both freight and passenger trains across the country.
The development of the Indian railways started with the British East India Company and was later headed by the Colonial British Government. The Indian Railways was primarily used for facilitating cotton exports and transporting troops from one place to the other. By the year 1947, Indian Railways started gaining attention from Indian passengers and by the year 1929, the country had railway lines spread across 66,000 Km.
Indian Railways Trains & fare
Trains have coaches that have been divided into different classes based on the price of the ticket and the comfort offered to the travellers in the coaches.
- General compartment
- Sleeper class
- Executive class chair
- AC 1 tier
- AC 2 tier
- AC 3 tier
- AC chair
- First class AC
The journey fare depends on the distance being travelled and the type of coach selected by a traveller. To check the Indian railway fare, travellers can visit the official website of IRCTC to get Indian Railways information and facilitate bookings.
Indian Railways Seat availability
According to the seat availability, travellers can book the tickets at their respective city railway stations or check the seat availability online for convenient railway reservation. The seat availability depends on the reservations done, the quota and class selected to travel from a source to destination.
For bookings and railway inquiry, you can follow these steps online
- Visit the IRCTC website
- Check train schedule
- Make train reservations
- Check PNR status
- View Indian Railways time table
- Make a train inquiry
Services offered on Indian Railways
Most Indian railways have a pantry service that provides meals to passengers on board. While long distance trains provide breakfast, lunch and dinner, short distance trains provide snacks and refreshments, which are either charged during the journey or charged as a part of the passenger fare.
The AC classes of all trains provide bed-rolls either free of cost or at a minimal charge depending on the type of train.
Additionally, Indian railways provide the following services –
- Special trains to assist the traffic during festive seasons and holidays
- Public grievance redressals
- Assistance during accidents
- Manual ticket booking counters
- Refund services
Indian Railways Train booking
The official website of Indian Railways for train tickets booking IRCTC. Travellers can visit this website and check the seat availability by choosing the source and destination and the date of travel for IRCTC railway booking. Indian Railways issues various kinds of tickets under different quotas. They include the following:
A confirmed ticket ensures that passengers get a reserved seat on the train.
Known as Reservation against cancellation, an RAC ticket stands a good chance to be confirmed if another ticket is cancelled. There are close to 15 tickets allotted in the RAC category for every coach in a particular train.
A waitlisted ticket is linked to a number. As tickets are cancelled, the waitlisted ticket moves up the order and has chances of getting confirmed. However, if a passenger carries a waitlisted ticket, they cannot board reserved coaches, which can be done with RAC tickets.
Indian Railways Tatkal quota
Under the tatkal quota, travellers can book their tickets a day in advance (not including the date of the journey). Once cancelled, there is no refund on confirmed tickets booked under the tatkal quota. However, waitlisted tickets deduct a certain amount as cancellation fee when cancelled.
Once the ticket is reserved, travellers can check the details of the train they are travelling in by checking the Indian Railway PNR status and Indian Railway time table either at the railway station or online by visiting the designated website services.
Popular trains in Indian Railways
Some of the popular trains of the network include classified on the basis of their speed include
Linking the major cities from Delhi, this air-conditioned train is one of the fastest trains in India.
Making a round trip on the same day, the Shatabdi express train is the fastest train in India and has limited stops to reduce the travel time.
Jan Shatabdi Express
Providing AC and Non-AC classes, these are a relatively affordable variant of the Shatabdi express.
Connecting the major state capitals and metros of India, the Duronto express trains travel at speeds equivalent to or faster than the Rajdhani express.
Providing cheap AC travel to the passengers compared to the fares of the normal AC trains, Garib Rath trains started its service in the year 2005 and connects the major cities in India.
Indian railways also have some world-renowned trains, some of them having a World Heritage tag such as the Darjeeling-Himalayan Railway and the Nilgiri Mountain Railway. Other popular trains include Palace on Wheels, Kalka-Shimla Railway, Samjhauta Express that connects India and Pakistan, and the Vivek Express that have the longest journey connecting Dibrugarh and Kanyakumari.