Travelling by train in India has come a long way over the last decade in terms of comfort, convenience and rail connectivity. Every year, Indian Railways introduces new trains and upgrades existing trains to suit passenger convenience. Feeder rail routes are often extended to cover smaller towns and cities and currently, the rail network covers 28 states across the length and breadth on India.
The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation of India, IRCTC has made booking of tickets very easy through to the user-friendly website irctc.co.in. For the luddites, the Ministry of Railways publishes a railway time table each year titled “Trains at a Glance”. The booklet is sold at book stalls at all railway stations. This handy booklet gives details of major express and superfast trains and the major stations along each route. The railway timetable gives details of arrival and departure times of trains, distance in kilometres, major stoppages as also availability or otherwise of pantry cars.
The railway timetable is structured to find details of trains using either of the following: station names, train name, train number or the route map for minor stations. The railway timetable gives detailed information about the tourism initiatives of the railway ministry luxury trains, hill trains, Inderal pass facility, circular tickets, and special facilities for foreigners and menu for meals.
The railway timetable also includes detailed maps giving the rail routes with broad, metre and narrow gauge tracks clearly marked. The rules regarding refunds, cancellations, booking under the TATKAL scheme, passenger amenities and passenger fares are also detailed in the booklet.
All the details in the railway timetable are available in an updated form on the extremely user friendly website. The website allows booking of railway tickets through the Internet around the clock except for a one-hour maintenance window. Can book tickets any day there is no restriction on this.
Once the user has created his profile and has logged in to the site, the user friendly menu allows the traveller to plan his travel with maximum efficiency. IRCTC has tied up with airlines and hotels across the country to provide attractively priced package tours on popular tourist circuits- some of the more popular ones are the New Delhi Vaishno Devi package, Bangalore-Shirdi package, the Chennai-Tirupati package and the Dakshin Bharat package.
The IRCTC website has a frequently asked questions section, which clarifies commonly encountered doubts for the benefit of travellers.