Indian Railways is India’s national railway system. It is operated by the Ministry of Railways and carts 22 million passengers every day. By size, it is the 4th largest railway network in the world.
Here are some interesting facts about travelling by Indian Railways, especially long distance:
- Easy purchase of tickets: Earlier, reservations of tickets were done manually. But since 1987, the Railways have switched to a computerized ticketing system. In 1995, the system went online to provide up to date information on availability and status of tickets. Tickets can today be purchased on the net and via mobile phones.
- Foreign tourists can buy an Indrail pass, allowing unlimited travel in India for a specific time. Discounted tickets are offered for the disabled, senior citizens, athletes and students.
- Tickets may be purchased on IRCTC website, SMS and mobile phones. Tickets are divided into eTickets and iTickets. iTickets are booked by passengers but printed and delivered to them before her trip. The eTickets are printed by the passengers. In case, you want to use eTickets, you must carry photo-identification. They can also be cancelled online.
Tips to Enjoy Travel
A long-distance trip by the Indian Railway is a daunting proposition. Here are some tips to make the journey enjoyable:
- Take along lots of reading material- magazines, books, newspapers, Kindle, smartphone etc.
- Spend time to look out of train windows or the carriage door to experience the beautiful scenery. The ever-changing landscape helps you enjoy a rare and wondrous experience of the real India.
- Get chit-chatting with fellow passengers. If you have a sociable nature, you will find plenty of people to chat with. Most Indians love to while away the time on train journeys by getting to know maximum information from fellow passengers. Some foreigners may consider this behaviour to be too intrusive. Note that Indians themselves will respond to all kinds of questions you pose before them. They will feel much delighted by the interest you show in them.
- In case of food, you need to take care of some points. It is good to carry your own food if you have special dietary needs. Most long-distance trains do feature pantry cars. But the food provided by the Indian Railways leaves much to be desired. There are limited choices like Thali and Biryani, which may not appeal to foreigners. Also, quality of food has declined down the years. Fortunately, in recent times, there have emerged alternative private food delivery services like Rail Restro, Mera Food Choice, Yatra chef and TravelKhana.
- For sampling local fare, you can count on vendors of food and drinks. These vendors ply their items in the sleeper compartments and sometimes even enter the AC compartments. In case you want to buy from them, keep some small change ready with you. Food can also be bought from platforms, but train stoppages are erratic.
- Go to bed early. Indian passengers would rather sleep when they do not have anything else to do. Be prepared to retire early as most passengers go to bed as early as 9 pm.
These are some tips for a long and enjoyable trip on the Indian Railways.