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Train Stuff in India

everything you need to know about train travel in India

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Understanding your ticket

There is a lot of information on your ticket, some of which might seem confusing.  What information must you check immediately after buying your ticket or boarding the train?  This article will help you read tickets quickly and make sure you've not made a mistake when booking your ticket - or potentially boarding the wrong train or coach!

Ticket layouts vary depending on whether they're tickets issued at a reservation counter (PRS tickets and i-tickets) or tickets generated online (e-tickets).  I'll start with counter-bought tickets.  If you have an e-ticket, you can head directly to the relevant section by clicking here.  There's also a small section on understanding SMS tickets at the end.

PRS tickets and i-tickets

A counter-bought ticket will look like this:

While the ticket's design itself might vary (it might be reddish or white instead of blue, and lack advertisements on the sides), the information on the ticket will be in the same format as the one above.  

I've marked all the important sections of the ticket in numbered boxes, which I will now explain:

Box 1 (Red): The Passenger Name Record (PNR).  This is a unique ten-digit number printed on the top-left corner of your ticket and is very important, especially if you've booked in First AC Sleeper/First Class Non-AC, or if your ticket is in the RAC/waitlist.  It is this number you will have to enter on the Indian Railways website or Erail to check the status of your ticket.  It is always a good idea to note down the PNR numbers of your tickets; in the eventuality of you losing your ticket or it being torn, providing your ticket's PNR number to railway officials will make it far simpler for them to verify that your problem is genuine.

Box 2 (Green): Mentions the train number, date of journey and distance travelled, along with the number of adults (passengers over 12 years old) and children (passengers between 5 and 12 years old) travelling.  Children below the age of 5 travel free and while their details are stored on the railways' database, their names will not appear on the ticket.

Important: Be very careful with your dates if the train you're travelling by leaves your origin station early in the morning, especially if it's between midnight and two am. For example, if you book a ticket for a train leaving at 12.05 am (00.05) for the 14th of October 2013, a Monday, it means you have booked on a train leaving first thing on Monday morning - you will need to arrive at the station late in the night on Sunday - and not a train leaving at the end of Monday.  This might sound simple, but many people have made this mistake and have accidentally booked themselves on the previous day's train.  This is not a very pleasant situation to find yourself in, especially in the middle of the night.

Box 3 (Blue): The number of your ticket, not to be confused with the PNR number.  Not very important, but just make sure the ticket number printed on your ticket is identical to the number stencilled on it.

Box 4 (Orange): Displays the class of travel of your ticket along with your origin and destination.  Full forms of the various class abbreviations are given below:

Abbreviation Full form
1A First AC Sleeper (Executive Class if the train is a Shatabdi)
2A Second AC Sleeper
FC First Class Non-AC
3A Three-tier AC Sleeper
3E AC Sleeper Economy
SL Sleeper Class Non-AC
CC AC Chair Car
2S Second Class Sitting

Box 5 (Purple): Mentions your coach and seat/berth numbers.  The coach number (in this case A2) is displayed first, followed by your seat or berth numbers (in this case, 19 and 20) as well as the type of seat/berth allotted.  Expansions of the various seat/berth types are:

Abbreviation Full form
LB Lower Berth
MB Middle Berth
UB Upper Berth
SL Side Lower Berth
SM Side Middle Berth
SU Side Upper Berth
WS Window Seat

If you have a ticket on First AC Sleeper or First Class Non-AC, your ticket will just state "CONFIRMED" with no coach or berth numbers - see the example below - coach and cabin numbers will be allotted when the train's chart is prepared, generally about four hours before the train leaves, and you will need to check your PNR at that point to find out your coach and cabin/coupe numbers.

 If your ticket is in the waitlist or RAC, this box will state both your serial as well as running waitlist positions.  Read this article for a better understanding of what serial and running waitlist/RAC numbers mean.

Box 6 (Yellow): The genders and ages of the passengers travelling.  M = Male, F = Female.  Counter-bought tickets do not mention the names of the passengers travelling.  This is a security feature.  If, for example, you lose your ticket, somebody who finds your ticket will not be able to cancel it and collect the refund, unless they somehow manage to guess the passengers' names.

Box 7 (Grey): The total fare of the ticket in figures and words, including reservation fees, superfast surcharges (if applicable) and service tax.  The amount displayed is for the whole ticket, not per passenger.

Box 8 (Pink): The name of the train you're taking.  No idea why it's all the way at the bottom.

Box 9 (Lime Green): Mentions when your train leaves your origin station and reaches your destination.  In the example ticket posted at the top, the train leaves my origin (Amritsar) on the 26th of October at 8.10 am, reaching my destination (New Delhi) the same day at 4.25 pm.   

 

E-tickets issued by IRCTC

This is what the average e-ticket issued by IRCTC looks like:

I've marked all the important sections in numbered boxes (Excuse the childishly-drawn numbers!)

I will now explain all these marked sections.  If you just read the section on PRS tickets, you will find a lot of repeated information.

Box 1 (Red)The Passenger Name Record (PNR).  This is a unique ten-digit number printed on the top-left corner of your ticket and is very important, especially if you've booked in First AC Sleeper/First Class Non-AC, or if your ticket is in the RAC/waitlist.  It is this number you will have to enter on the Indian Railways website or Erail to check the status of your ticket.  It is always a good idea to note down the PNR numbers of your tickets; in the eventuality of you losing your ticket or it being torn, providing your ticket's PNR number to railway officials will make it far simpler for them to verify that your problem is genuine.

Box 2 (Green): Mentions your train's number and name.

Box 3 (Orange): The class of travel of your ticket.  Class abbreviations are expanded below:

Abbreviation Full form
1A First AC Sleeper (Executive Class if the train is a Shatabdi)

2A

Second AC Sleeper
FC First Class Non-AC
3A Three-tier AC Sleeper
3E AC Sleeper Economy
SL Sleeper Class Non-AC
CC AC Chair Car
2S Second Class Sitting

Box 4 (Purple): Displays your origin and destination stations as well as your date of departure.  You will also see boxes labelled "Boarding" and "Resv Upto"; these will usually be the same as your "From" and "To" stations.

Boxes 5 (Yellow): This section tells you when your train leaves your origin station and reaches your destination station.  In this case, the train leaves at 11.30 am on the 23rd of September and reaches at 11.49 am on the 24th of September - a massive journey of 19 minutes!

Box 6 (Blue): Displays the total fare of your ticket in figures and words.  Remember that the fare displayed is for the whole ticket, not per passenger.

Box 7 (Pink): Details of passengers travelling.  Unlike PRS tickets, e-tickets mention the passengers' names, ages and genders.

Box 8 (Lime Green): Ticket status, coach and berth details.  If your ticket is confirmed, it will say CONFIRM (it should ideally be "CONFIRMED", but for some reason it isn't), followed by your coach number, seat/berth number and seat/berth type.

In the above case, it says CONFIRM D1/0067/ WS.  That means the ticket is confirmed in coach D1, seat 67.  The "WS" tells you the seat is a window seat.

If you've bought a ticket in First AC Sleeper or First Class Non-AC, your ticket will say CONFIRM 0000/.  This is because coach and berth numbers in these two classes are decided only when the train's chart is prepared, approximately four hours before the train leaves.  To find out your coach and berth number, check your PNR status a few hours before departure.

If you have an RAC or a waitlisted ticket, this section will state both the serial and running RAC/WL number followed by 0000/.  For an explanation of what these serial and running numbers mean, click here.

Box 9 (Dark Blue): Tells you whether the ticket was booked from a personal or an agent's account on IRCTC.  If you've booked a ticket from a travel agent and this section says that the ticket is booked from a personal ID, this can be problematic... 

 

SMS tickets

You can save paper and travel with the SMS sent to your mobile number when you book tickets online.  This only works if you have an Indian mobile number.

The confirmation SMS is unfortunately rather cryptic.  This is the format in which it appears:

<PNR Number><Train Number><Date of Journey><Departure Time><Class><Codes of Origin and Destination Stations><Name of First Passenger><Coach and Seat Numbers><Fare>

The name of the train is not mentioned.  The names of the stations aren't mentioned either - their respective station codes are mentioned.  

The SMS that I received when I booked the e-ticket in the previous section was as follows:

PNR:4501508534,TRAIN:16558,DOJ:23-09-2013,TIME:11:30,2S,SBC TO KGI,Old Guy,D1 67,FARE:35,SC:11.24+PG CHGS.

If there is more than one passenger travelling, the SMS will mention the name of the first passenger followed by a plus and the number of extra passengers.  For example, if three passengers were travelling, this message would read "Old Guy +2" and mention their coach and seat numbers as well.  If the ticket is RAC/waitlisted, the ticket will only mention the running RAC/waitlist number.

Last updated on 14 November 2013.