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Train Stuff in India

everything you need to know about train travel in India

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The chart of a train, "Chart Prepared" and "Chart Not Prepared"

I've mentioned the chart of a train many times on this website, as well the chart of a train being prepared.  What do these concepts mean, and what is the significance of the chart of a train?

What is a train's chart?

Simply put, it is the list of - among other things - the following:

  • All the passengers travelling in a train - their names, genders and ages, apart from their origin and destination stations,
  • The coach and seat/berth numbers of all passengers with tickets that are confirmed,
  • The coach and seat numbers of all passengers whose tickets are still in the RAC list when the chart is prepared,
  • All passengers on the RAC/waitlist and their final status when the train's chart is prepared - if confirmed or RAC, their coach and seat/berth numbers,
  • Passengers who have been given a free upgrade,
  • Empty seats or berths in the train, if any.

In short, it contains all the information about the passengers in the train that the railways need to know.  

What do the terms "Chart Prepared" and "Chart Not Prepared" mean, when I check the status of my ticket?

While the details of every passenger - confirmed, RAC or waitlisted - are stored in the railways' database, they are not usually listed in print form - not until the train's chart is prepared.  At the time of chart preparation, several things happen:

  • If there are any "hidden quotas" on a train that have not been fully utilised, these empty seats or berths are given to passengers on the waitlist,
  • Passengers who had a waitlisted/RAC ticket that got confirmed are allotted coach and seat/berth numbers,
  • Coach and cabin numbers are allotted to passengers travelling by First AC Sleeper and First Class Non-AC,
  • The system randomly selects passengers for a free upgrade, if there are vacant seats in a higher class and a waitlist in a lower class,
  • The list of passengers in each coach is printed out and eventually pasted near the door of the coach (like in the header image of this page, as well as the images below).  In some stations, the charts of the train are pasted on boards, to save passengers the trouble of waiting for the train to arrive and the chart pasted near the door.

The significance of the chart being prepared is that once this happens, there can be no further changes in the status of your reservation.  If your ticket is still on the waitlist when the chart is prepared, you cannot board any reserved coach of the train.  If you have a waitlisted/RAC ticket that got confirmed at some point, the time of chart preparation is when you find out which coach and berth is yours.

When is the chart prepared?

In theory, four hours before the train departs.  For trains that leave in the morning (before 11 am), the chart is generally prepared the previous night, though this depends on the operating procedures of the station preparing the chart.  Every station does not prepare a chart for the train.  The train's chart is prepared and pasted on the train at the train's origin station.  If there are particularly important stations falling in the route of the train, they are classified Remote Locations and fresh charts are prepared for passengers boarding at these stations, or any station beyond the remote location (upto the next remote location, if there is any).  Thus, if you're boarding at a station several hours from the origin station of the train, the train's chart might be prepared more than four hours before the train departs your station.

What does the chart look like?

The chart is a long sheet of paper. The name is slightly misleading; there are no diagrams on it at all

Let's take a closer look:

You might want to know how to understand a chart, in which case, read on!

As usual, I've highlighted important sections of the chart in boxes.

Box 1 (Orange):  Tells you the class of the coach (in this case, Second AC Sleeper), the coach (A2), the train's number and name, its origin station and the date of departure from its origin.  This information is useful to make sure you're on the right train and coach.  Be aware though that in some cases, old charts from previous journeys of the train might not have been fully removed, leading you to believe that you've caught the wrong train.  In this case, a quick enquiry to your fellow passengers, porters or station vendors should clear any confusion.

Box 2 (Green):  Mentions the seat or berth numbers - this is followed by the names of passengers who have that seat or berth.  Some berth numbers might be missing if they're kept aside for RAC passengers; the list of which is mentioned at the bottom of the chart.  Some berth numbers might be repeated as well, if the same seat or berth is being used by different passengers for different legs of the journey.  If the columns following a seat/berth number are blank, it means the seat/berth is vacant.  If this seat/berth number is mentioned only once, it means that the seat/berth is vacant for the entire journey.  However, if the seat/berth number is mentioned twice; the second number followed by a notation like GN/NDLS, it will get filled up at a future station.

The bottom of the chart also mentions the total number of seats in the coach that are unutilised during the entire journey.  It will state something like this:

Number of FULL Vacant Seats in Coach: x Class: y:  z

Where 'x' is the coach number, 'y' the class of travel, and 'z' the number of vacant seats.

Box 3 (Grey):  The names of the passengers in English and Hindi.  Blanked out as I doubt they'd be too happy to have their details floating around the web.

Box 4 (Blue):  The genders and ages of the passengers.  M = Male, F = Female.  So "M26" means a 26 year old man, "F57" a 57 old woman - you get the drift.

Box 5 (Purple): The PNR numbers of the passengers.

Box 6 (Lime Green): Mentions the origin and destination of each passenger.  Only station codes are used.

There, you now know how to read a train's chart.  Go out and frolic in the sunshine!

Last updated on 14 November 2013.