Remember the days when you were looking forward to summer holidays? Every time you saw those trains chugging past you in your hometown, you were filled with a sense of excitement. The holidays, fun and games with friends, travel plans that your parents made, and finally the journey. Maybe all those days are gone, maybe you are not kids anymore and there are no stipulated period of holidays in the summer. But it’s still the holiday season. It’s always good to take a break and go somewhere and indulge in fun activities outside your office. But if you think your budget doesn’t allow you to make extensive travel plans, don’t worry. You don’t need to travel in luxury buses or travel by air. Indian Railways will get you wherever you want to go.
Travelling by trains is inexpensible compared to other means of travelling. It’s relaxing, it’s unhurried, plenty of time to talk shop with your friends and families, plenty of time to look outside the window and feel nostalgic. Train journeys often become the most memorable things. Flight or bus journeys never do that.
So now, if you are planning to take a vacation and travel by trains, here are a few things you should consider while booking your train tickets. These Indian Railways hacks will often come in handy. Be it booking or cancelling or postponing your tickets, these hacks will help you save your time.
Booking your Train Tickets on your Mobile Phone (without the app)
Just in case you didn’t know, there is an SMS service that is set up by the Indian Railways. You need not have a smart phone for this, just a regular mobile phone would do. This SMS service allows you to check train ticket confirmations. All you have to do is send a text to the Railways Inquiry Number, 139. You can also book your train tickets using this SMS service.
There is a two-step procedure involved in this. But before all this, let’s take a look at some of the prerequisites you should consider before booking train tickets using your phone.
- You should already be registered on IRCTC’s official website
- You should have MMID (Mobile Money Identifier) and OTP (One Time Password) for IMPS (Interbank Mobile Payment Service) transactions
- Your mobile number should match the one registered on IRCTC website and with your bank.
Here are a few things you should know.
MMID is a 7-digit number, which is provided to you by your bank. This MMID is used to identify your bank and it is also linked to your bank account number. The combination of the 7-digit MMID and your mobile number is unique.
Please note, you can use the same phone number to link multiple accounts in the same bank. But the MMID will be different for each account.
Once all these prerequisites are met, you can proceed to book your IRCTC train tickets using the SMS service.
As mentioned earlier, there is a two-step procedure involved in booking your train ticket: one to get your ticket and the other to pay for it. Let’s take a look at the first step, i.e. to get your ticket using the SMS service.
You have to send an SMS in the below format:
BOOK <TrainNo><FromCity><ToCity><DateOfTravel (DDMM)><Class><Passenger1-Name><Age><Gender>
You can add up to six passengers in the same SMS.
While entering the name of the city, make sure you enter the short forms of the points between which you travel. Always ensure they match the ones you find on the official IRCTC website. For instance, if you are travelling from Mumbai to Ahmedabad (and your name is, say, Kiran, aged 28), your SMS should look like this: BOOK 12246 BCT ADI 2304 A2 Kiran 28 M
If you have entered the correct details in the correct format, you will receive an SMS from 139, confirming your ticket. In the message, you will have your transaction ID, ticket amount, and the availability of the seat (with the seat number), and further directions to continue with the payment.
The second step of the procedure involves the payment. In order to pay for your ticket and complete the transaction, follow the below SMS format and send it to 139.
PAY <Transaction ID as received in the previous SMS> IMPS <MMID as received from your bank><OTP as received from the bank for this transaction><IRCTC User ID>
Once you have done this, you will again receive an SMS from 139 regarding the successful booking of your train ticket. This message will contain the details of your PNR number, booking status (confirmed or RAC – Reservation Against Cancellation), and details regarding your departure on the date of your train journey.
Please note, if it’s RAC, you will be asked to share a berth on the train with another person with the same booking status. If the other person cancels his/her ticket at the last moment, you will have your own seat.
Cancelling your Train Tickets Online
You can cancel your train ticket in two ways: either by cancelling it entirely or by cancelling it partially. Just like booking a railway ticket using the SMS service, you can cancel the ticket by sending an SMS to 139. The SMS format to cancel the ticket is as follows:
CAN <10 Digit PNR><IRCTC UserID>
Once you send the SMS, you will receive a reply from 139 regarding your cancellation request. You are then required to confirm your cancellation by sending YES to 139. Followed by this, you will receive another text as proof of your cancellation and Rs.60/- will be refunded to your bank account.
If you have booked more than one ticket and want to cancel only partially, you are required to send an SMS to 139 using the following format:
CAN <10 Digit PNR><IRCTCUserId><Passenger Number (the ones whose tickets you wish to cancel)>
For instance, if you have booked five tickets and want to cancel only the first two travellers’ tickets, your SMS should look like this:
CAN 2456389045 Kiran 1/2
Again, you will receive an SMS from 139, asking you to confirm your partial cancellations. Once you reply with an YES, you will receive another SMS confirming your cancellation and the respective money will be refunded to your bank account.
Please note, you will also receive an OTP before cancelling your train ticket. You have to enter the OTP.
Getting a Refund for Cancellation of Railway Tickets
It is important to note that you can cancel your train ticket through your mobile phone until only four hours prior to your train’s departure. You can collect your refund at the station where the train was supposed to start from. But if the station is far and you cannot collect it from there physically, you can pick it up from any nearby satellite Passenger Reservation System (PRS) locations, which are identified by Zonal Railways.
For example, if your train was scheduled to start at anytime between 1801 to 0600 hours, you are allowed to claim your refund within the first two hours upon the opening of
Indian Railways Hucks
PRS counters the next day. If your train was scheduled to start at anytime between 0601 to 1800 hours, you are allowed to claim your refund up to four hours after the departure of the train. Please note, you have to do this when the PRS counters are working. Fortunately, these PRS counters work around the clock for cancellations.
It is important to note that in order to avail the refund upon cancellation of your train ticket, you shouldn’t surpass the stipulated time limit. Also, your mobile numbers must be furnished at the time of booking your train ticket. Cancellation charges depend upon the type of train you book for.
Checking PNR Status through SMS
PNR number check is pretty easy. The PNR (Passenger Name Record) status can be checked through SMS service. There are of course a lot of online sites that can provide you information regarding your PNR status. Just enter your Railways Inquiry Number and you will get all the information you need. But you need access to the internet to do so. So what do you do when you don’t have internet access?
SMS service works just fine during those circumstances. It is again similar to booking or cancelling your train tickets using the SMS service. Enter your 10-digit PNR number on your mobile phone and send it to 139. The next instant you will receive all your journey details in another text message from 139.
Booking Premium Tatkal Tickets
IRCTC tatkal tickets are meant for last minute or immediate plans. Tatkal ticket bookingopens at 10 a.m. for AC class and at 11 a.m. for non-AC class one day in advance from the actual date of starting point of the train. For example, for a train leaving on 6th from Bangalore Railway Station, tatkal booking will start at 10 a.m. for AC class and 11 a.m. for non-AC class on 5th.
Premium Tatkal train ticket is quite similar to regular tatkal scheme. The only difference is the dynamic fare pricing. In other words, higher the demand, higher the price. If there is no demand, the prices will be quite similar to regular tatkal fares. Or to explain in a simple manner, premium tatkal train tickets are similar to Air tickets. Higher the demand, higher the price. Indian Railways has their own mechanism of pricing based on the demand.
Only a select few trains (around 80) have the option of booking under Premium Tatkal quota.
The process of booking a Premium Tatkal ticket is same as that of booking a regular tatkal ticket. If the train has the option of Premium Tatkal quota, it will show at the time of booking.
After completing the initial steps of booking a ticket on IRCTC (entering the ‘From’ and ‘To’ details, etc.) and clicking on ‘Submit’, you will get a list of trains. Select ‘Premium Tatkal’ option and you will be provided with a list of special trains, which offer Premium Tatkal Quota.
Postponing your Train Ticket
If the status of your train ticket is either confirmed or RAC or waitlisted and you wish to postpone your journey for a) same/higher class or b) for a longer distance journey, you can do so by paying a nominal fee.
If you want to prepone your journey, you will be required to submit your existing train ticket up to six hours prior to the departure of the train. After this, you have to reserve the ticket again.
If you want to postpone your confirmed train ticket, you have to submit your original ticket at least 24 hours prior to the departure of the train. This is permitted in the same or higher class for another train on the same day or another day in the future. Also, the duration of the journey should be the same or it should be longer.
Please note: You are required to pay 25% of your ticket fee as cancellation charge if you submit your train ticket before the stipulated time. The charge is 50% of your ticket fee if you submit your ticket after the train is departed. You have to pay a new reservation fee for the class in which you want to travel in to reserve your postponed ticket.