How much does an Indian train cost

Train tickets in India: the tourist contingent

The waiting list for a sleeper space is once again forever long. There is a feeling of perplexity as to how the train journey through India should continue. Even if it seems that all seats are fully booked, there is still hope to get hold of a train ticket. Indian Railways has reserved a small contingent of tickets on some trains exclusively for foreign tourists.

This tourist quota is called “Foreign Tourist Quota” (FTQ) in India. Until recently, these tickets were only available at special tourist counters in large cities, but they can now also be booked online via the IRCTC website. They used to cost the same as regular train tickets, since 2018 1.5 times the basic price has been charged.

First of all: Many who want to book train tickets for India online from home in advance fail because they need an Indian telephone number for most platforms. You can get online train tickets for India without an Indian telephone number on this online booking platform *. There you will find online tickets for the Indian Railways for important train connections in India.


General Quota vs. Foreign Tourist Quota

Basically you should try to book a regular reservation from the “General Quota”. You can travel in General Class on many trains without a reservation. If you want a safe place on the train, you should start planning your trip as soon as possible and buy a ticket. You shouldn't be put off by long waiting lists.

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The Tourist Bureau in New Delhi Railway Station is e.g. on the 1st floor, in Mumbai CST (Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) counter 52 on the 1st floor is reserved for tourists only. There are other, special tourist counters e.g. at the train stations in Chennai Central, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Secunderabad, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Jodpur, Agra Cantonment and Varanasi and Mumbai Churchgate (Reservation Office opposite the train station, counter 14). Unfortunately, the counters are often quite hidden or poorly marked.

Requirements for tourist quota tickets

Before booking at the tourist counter, a form must be filled in with the desired travel details, and a passport with a valid visa is required for a tourist quota ticket. An international mobile number must also be given. If there are several travelers, all passports must be presented, copies are not accepted.

In travel guides * and on various websites it is pointed out that when paying with Indian rupees, a confirmation of exchange or a payment receipt from the ATM must be presented when purchasing the ticket. Personally, I've never been asked about it before. Payment is also possible in euros, US dollars and British pounds, among others.

Check availability on the Internet

At Indian Railways, the availability of Tourist Quota tickets may…

A ticket contingent is not reserved for tourists on every train. You can check whether there are Tourist Quota tickets for a particular train on this page from Indian Railways. Simply enter the train number, travel date and the station code of the departure and arrival station. Then select the desired travel class (usually Sleeper Class, Third AC or Second AC for night trains) and select “Foreign Tourist” under Quota. Don't be surprised, the design has changed in the meantime, the Indian Railways side now shines in blue.

After submitting the form, the availability of tickets for the next few days of operation of the train will be displayed. “AVAILABLE” is a good sign, then tickets are available. The number after that shows how many tickets are still available.

If available, you should grab it quickly, usually only a few tickets are available. Tourist quota tickets can be booked up to 365 days in advance.

In the same way, you can also check whether tickets for the train of your choice are available in other contingents. For tourists, “General Quota”, the general contingent, and “Tatkal”, the “last minute” contingent are still interesting.

You can find a help page with many more details about the Indian Railway Tourist Ticket here.

Alternatives to booking tickets online with Indian Railways

If you have read this post so far, then you have probably already noticed that booking tickets for trains in India is anything but easy. It feels more like a science. Even if the online booking is regularly developed, the operation of the website is still a cramp in many areas.

If booking directly via the IRCTC page is too troublesome for you, then try your luck e.g. on this online booking platform *. There you will also find train tickets for the Indian Railways for some important train connections in India. You can buy the online train tickets for India without an Indian phone number.

The last chance: Tatkal

The Tatkal contingent is always released one day before the train departs at 10 a.m. sharp. The ticket is more expensive than the regular ticket. If the tourist contingent does not work and there is no hope of sliding up the waiting list, this is another chance to get a train ticket.

Tatkal can also be booked as an online ticket in India. But then you have to be quick, because Tatkal tickets are often sold out within a few minutes.

And how are your experiences with the Tourist Quota Tickets? Leave a comment!

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This entry was first published on January 16, 2015 and last updated on November 5, 2019.

Category: India, Train Travel Trip Planning