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Train Stuff in India

everything you need to know about train travel in India

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Break journey and through journey tickets; booking more than one train on a single fare

Break journey and through journey tickets can save you a significant amount of your fare, if your journey involves stopovers or changes en-route.  However, these tickets cannot be booked online - you will have to go to a reservation office - and are subject to various conditions.

Why book a through ticket or break-journey ticket?

Let's look at how a through ticket (also known as a ticket with telescopic fare benefit) can help a passenger.

Assume that you're travelling between Chennai and Karwar on a Tuesday.  There is no direct train on the route, and you've determined the best route - and train connections are:

(a) Taking the Chennai - Mangalore Express (#12685) leaving Chennai at 5 pm and reaching Mangalore the next morning at 8.30 am (889 km)

(b) Taking the Yesvantpur - Karwar Express (#16523) leaving Mangalore at 9 am, reaching Karwar at 2 pm (354 km)

Let's also assume you want to travel by Second AC Sleeper (2A).

If you were to buy separate tickets for each train, you would pay:

INR 1,510 for the Chennai - Mangalore ticket

INR 750 for the Mangalore - Karwar ticket

..totally INR 2,260 for the Chennai - Karwar journey, which is rather expensive for a journey of 1,243 km.  It works out expensive as a result of the railways' fare structure - the longer you travel, the more economical it gets per kilometre.  For example, a 100 km journey by Second AC Sleeper costs INR 665 (INR 6.5 per km), whereas a 3,000 km journey by the same class costs INR 3,065 (INR 1.02 per km).  The case of the Chennai - Karwar journey involves a reasonably long journey followed by a relatively short journey, which makes it relatively expensive.

However, it is possible to buy a through ticket for the entire journey, which means you pay the fare from Chennai to Karwar, with your ticket mentioning that you have a change of trains at Mangalore.  In this case, the total distance is 1,243 km.  The Second AC fare for this distance is INR 1,845.  With a through ticket, you save INR 415 in this example, a saving of 18% over buying two separate tickets.

What are the rules governing through tickets?  They can only be booked at a counter - not online, and can be issued for routes where no direct train exists (like Chennai - Karwar) as well as routes where direct services exist.  However, you cannot choose to take an excessively circuitous route - the rule is that your route cannot be more than 15% longer than a reasonably direct route.  You cannot book a through ticket on trains like the Shatabdi, Rajdhani, Garib Rath, Duronto and Jan Shatabdi Expresses.  It is possible to book a through ticket for a journey where you travel in different classes in different legs of the journey, but you will have to pay the fare for the higher class for the entire route, which makes it less economical.

Let's say you want to book a through ticket from Bangalore to Mumbai.  Between these two cities, the shortest route is 1,137 km taken by the Kurla Express (#11014). You want to book a through ticket by taking the Sampark Kranti Express (#12629) to Pune - a distance of 1,022 km - followed by the Mumbai Express (#11042) to Mumbai, a distance of 192 km.  Here, the total distance travelled is 1,214 km.  Will this ticket be allowed?

Since the shortest route is 1,137 km, and 15% of the shortest route works out to 170 km, you will be permitted to book a through ticket as long as the distance doesn't exceed 1,137+170 km, that is, 1,307 km.  Since the route you want is less than 1,307 km, this combination will be permitted.

However, if you want to take the Vasco Express (#17309) to Madgaon - a distance of 672 km - followed by the Mandovi Express (#10104) to Mumbai, a distance of 765 km, you will not be issued a through ticket, as this distance (1,432 km) exceeds the shortest-route-plus-15% rule.

How do you book a through ticket?  You follow the same procedure you would to book a train ticket at a reservation office, with a few small changes when filling up your reservation form:

In the area highlighted in the yellow box, start by entering the train number of the first train you want to take.  If we use the example of the Chennai - Karwar journey, you will fill the "Train Number" box with the number of the first train (12685).  Fill in the date of journey, the class you want and the number of seats or berths you want. 

In the "from" box, write the name or code of the station you start from (in this case Chennai).  In the "to" box, enter the name or code of the station you want to reach in the end - in this case, Karwar.

In the "boarding at" box below, again enter the name of your origin station.  So, Chennai again.  However, in the "reservation upto" box, enter the name of the station you will be travelling to by your first train.  Here, you would enter "Mangalore". 

Fill in the passenger details column as usual.  In the "Onward/Return Journey Details" box (the one highlighted in orange), fill in the details of your second train - here, I would input the number of the Karwar Express (16523), the date I board this train, the class I'm travelling by (here, Second AC Sleeper again).  In the "station from" and "station to" columns, enter the stations between which you're travelling in your second train - here, "Mangalore" and "Karwar".  It is also possible to leave this field blank, which gives you an open ticket for the second leg, allowing you to travel by Second AC Sleeper (or any lower class) on any train between the two stations, subject to seats being vacant on this leg.

Submit this form to the clerk, informing him/her that you want a telescopic or through ticket.  Your ticket should be generated.

Break-journey tickets

If you have a journey ticket for a fairly long distance, the railways allow you to "break journey" enroute - that is, stop at an enroute station for a couple of days and do whatever you want there - sightsee, meet family and friends etc.  The rules for break journeys are:

  • They cannot be issued for trains like Shatabdi, Rajdhani, Duronto, Garib Rath and Jan Shatabdi Expresses,
  • You need to travel for more than 500 km to be eligible for a break of journey,
  • You cannot break your journey at a station less than 500 km from your origin,
  • If you have a ticket for more than 500 km but less than 1,000 km, you can break journey once; if your journey exceeds 1,000 km, you can break journey twice,
  • You must indicate that you want to break journey en-route at the time of booking your ticket,
  • You need to get your ticket endorsed by the station master of the station at which you break your journey.  If you fail to do this and are caught later on, you will be treated as a ticketless traveller and fined accordingly,
  • You do not need to take the same train onwards after breaking journey,
  • You can break journey for a maximum of two days excluding the day you arrive and leave the break journey station,
  • A halt of less than 24 hours at a station to catch a connecting train is not treated as a break of journey (it then becomes a through ticket)

The procedure for booking a break journey ticket is exactly the same as that of booking a through ticket - make sure you tell the clerk that you want a break of journey when you hand him/her your reservation form.

Last updated on 14 November 2013.