Train Stuff in India

everything you need to know about train travel in India

header photo

This section deals with the world of waitlisted tickets in the Indian Railway network.  Some of the most basic and frequently-asked questions about waitlists and waitlisted tickets are briefly discussed here, with links to more elaborate articles for passengers who need more information.

I have a ticket which is on the waitlist (WL). What does this mean?

If you are issued a ticket on the waitlist, it means that the train is already full.  However, as and when other passengers with confirmed reservations cancel their tickets, your ticket's waitlist position will decrease until (hopefully!) it becomes a confirmed ticket.  For an overview of how this system works, see this article.

I have a ticket on the waitlist.  Will it get confirmed?

There is no guarantee that a waitlisted ticket will get confirmed - it depends on whether enough passengers with confirmed tickets (or with tickets that of a lower waitlist position than yours) decide to cancel their tickets as well as a few other factors.  If a sufficient number of cancellations don't take place by the time the train's chart is prepared to improve the position of your ticket to at least the RAC list (if not a confirmed berth), you cannot board the train.

How do I check whether my position of my waitlisted ticket has improved?

You can check the status of your ticket online and/or by calling or SMSing the enquiry service.  For for more information on checking (and interpreting!) your ticket's status, click here.

Wait, so do I get a refund of my ticket fare if my waitlisted ticket doesn't get confirmed?

Yes.  If your ticket is still on the waitlist when the train's chart is prepared, you are eligible for a full refund minus clerkage charges of INR 30 per passenger.

What's the probability that my waitlisted ticket will get confirmed?

Since the chances of a waitlisted ticket getting confirmed depend on a variety of factors that differ from case to case,  there is no single formula that works for all waitlisted tickets.  On one occasion, I booked a ticket that was position 3 on the waitlist but failed to get confirmed; on another, I booked a ticket for two that started at 113 and 114 on the waitlist, yet got us seats on the train in the end.  If you want to calculate your chances with greater accuracy, you can either take the easy way out and post your ticket's status on a few online fora to have experienced travellers predict your chances, or understand the factors that cause a waitlisted ticket to get confirmed (or not) to make a more knowledgeable guess yourself.

I booked a waitisted ticket a long time ago, and there's been no change in its status at all!  What do I do?

Usually, most passengers tend to cancel their tickets a few days (or even a few hours) before the train leaves.  It is is quite possible to book a waitlisted ticket two months in advance, and see no improvement at all for the first month but a rush of cancellations in the last few days.

The PNR status enquiry says my ticket is confirmed.  Do I need to exchange my waitlisted ticket for a new one?

No, the same ticket is perfectly valid.  As long as your names appear on the train's chart, you're good to go!

Again, the PNR status enquiry says my ticket is confirmed, but why hasn't it allotted me coach and seat/berth numbers?

When your ticket gets confirmed, the PNR status enquiry will tell you your ticket is confirmed.  However, you will only be allotted coach and berth numbers when the train's chart is prepared, roughly about four hours before the departure of the train.  See this article to find out why.

So there's one waitlist for the whole train?

There are as many as seven (!) different types of waitlists, actually.  No train has all seven, though most trains will have at least two different types of waitlists.  If you are placed on a waitlist, the type of waitlist you get depends on:

  • Whether you've booked through a specific quota (for example, if you book a ticket through the tatkal quota and it is waitlisted, you will be placed on the tatkal waitlist)
  • If you've booked a waitlisted ticket through the general quota, the type of waitlist you get depends on how far you're travelling down the train's route and where you board and alight from the train.  

Different waitlists have different levels of priority in getting confirmed, so the exact waitlist you're on is of more than just academic interest.

If you want to learn more, read this article. If your head is already spinning, you might want to avoid that.

How do I avoid getting a waitlisted ticket?

Book early, though admittedly this is easier said than done.  See if other trains on the same route have seats/berths available, or if your train has seats/berths in a higher or lower class.  If it is possible to book a backup ticket in a lower class, it's always worth doing.  You can also check to see if you can get a confirmed ticket by booking to a station further down the train's route, or by booking from an earlier station and specifying that you're boarding at a later station, when you make your reservation.


Articles in this gallery:

Will my waitlisted ticket get confirmed?
Types of waitlists

Last updated on 14 November 2013.