It is rare to find a place like India. This is the main reason thousands of foreign travellers are drawn to this country to explore the landscapes, beaches, people, food, culture, and history. But as the country is the seventh largest in the world, it can be a task to travel from one destination to the other.
Fortunately, Indian Railways is the ultimate solution to this problem. It is the second-largest railway network over the world and known to accommodate more than 23 million people every day. Given its massive size, it is not very easy to decipher the train details of Indian Railways. Being a foreigner, it might be quite confusing to travel in trains when you visit India for the first time. To make it easier for you, we have laid down certain pointers that can be very helpful for your journey.
Booking Ahead of Time
As India is densely populated, you find competition in everything. There is always a struggle when you need something done at any point of time. People rely heavily on Indian Railways for domestic travel; hence, the demand is extremely high. Therefore, make sure that you book your tickets well in advance if you want to secure a confirmed ticket. After you are done making your travel plans, start with the bookings. Ticket sales begin 60 days prior to the departure date; hence, make your reservations as soon as you can, especially when you are travellingin the festive seasons.
Deciding Your Class
There are several classes in Indian Railways. The names can be very deceptive and confusing to a beginner. The Second and Sleeper Class are for people who want to travel in a tight budget, and most of the trains accommodate these classes. You will not find air-conditioning in these classes. If you are looking for a comfortable option, you can choose between the 3AC, 2AC, or 1AC classes. All of them have air-conditioning and certain trains also provide food. 1AC is the most expensive class where the fares are similar to that of planes.
Buying a Train Ticket Using a Foreign Tourist Quota
There is the Foreign Tourist Quota (FTQ) available for foreigners, but do not blindly rely on it to secure a confirmed seat in Indian Railways. However, most of the trains provide FTQ tickets. But for purchasing the ticket, you will have to pay using cash (generally in pounds, euros, or dollars). Check out which stations offer FTQ tickets in India, and be prepared to stand in a queue to get the job done.
Being Prepared for Long Delays
As the railway system is gigantic, several problems may arise frequently. Do not expect trains to come in time all the time. Delays are quite common and normal. Hence, learn how to be patient. If it helps, carry some snacks to soothe yourself.
Bringing Toilet Paper and Hand Sanitizer
Lastly, bathrooms can be really foul and dirty in trains. Toilets usually do not have toilet paper as people are more accustomed to water. Therefore, it is better to carry your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer.