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Train Stuff in India

everything you need to know about train travel in India

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What are "Premium Special" trains?

Recently, the railways introduced a new category of trains known as "Premium Specials".  At the moment, there are over 30 such "Specials" running across India.  

Premium Special trains were introduced to allow passengers to get accommodation on busy routes at short notice as well as gain the railways more revenue than regular trains.  As such, these trains differ from regular trains in many aspects.  The major features of Premium Special trains are summarised below:

  • Reservations for Premium Special trains open only 15 days in advance of the journey (i.e. for a journey on 16th June, you will be able to book from 1st June)
  • Tickets for Premium Specials can only be booked online.  You cannot go to a reservation office and buy a ticket for these trains.
  • These trains operate on a dynamic fare policy - that is, fares increase as berths are sold and the journey date approaches.  If you book as soon as reservations open, you will pay the lowest fare; if you book the last berth on the train, you pay the highest fare, which can often be as much as 300% of the regular fare.
  • There are no concessions (like senior citizen or child concessions) for travel on a Premium Special Train.
  • Catering is included in the fares of these trains - that is, you will get food served at your berth a la Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto Expresses, the cost of which is included in your ticket fare.
  • The minimum fare for any class on a premium train is usually the Duronto/Rajdhani tatkal fare for that sector.  
  • Tickets on Premium Special trains cannot be cancelled unless the railways decide to cancel the train itself.
  • No waiting list exists for Premium Special trains; only confirmed and RAC tickets are issued.
  • The ID proof (and number) of all passengers need to be mentioned while booking, and needs to be carried during travel.

While Premium Special trains do often serve as the only way to get confirmed tickets on busy routes at relatively short notice, there are a few points to consider before booking a ticket on one:

  • Make sure you carefully check the final fare displayed on IRCTC before booking, as there can be massive differences between the base fare and the actual fare.  For example, I checked for tickets on the New Delhi - Jammu Premium Special for a 29th May departure (this article was written on 28th May).  While the base fare displayed was INR 820, the final fare displayed before booking was INR 2,955 - nearly four times the minimum fare!
  • Avoid buying RAC tickets on these trains.  As cancellations aren't allowed, it is almost impossible for your ticket to get confirmed, and you will have to depend on no-show passengers to get a full berth.  As all confirmed berths would have already been sold out for you to get an RAC seat, you will end up paying the highest fare - that too, to end up with just a seat!  If you are unaware of what RAC is, do read this overview of the reservation process.
  • As these trains are "special" trains, they can get very low priority from the traffic controllers and run very late.  While the Mumbai - Delhi Premium Special tends to get accorded top priority and run on time, the same cannot be said for many other Premium Specials.  Do not plan any tight connections involving a Premium Special.

Last updated on 28 May 2014.