India is a country where one will rarely find a divide in class. People from all backgrounds and classes come together and go about their everyday lives in the most harmonious of ways. This integration of culture and people is most visible in public places like markets, roads, train and bus stations and even workplaces.
This perfect concord of people from drastically different lives, where they come together in one place is most noticeable in trains. The Railways, local or national, ferries the most amount of people in a public transportation system in India. Such smooth functionality is only possible because of one extremely important facto r- ticket pricing. The Indian Railways are perhaps the cheapest transportation service in the whole world. This can be credited to a good government endorsement and a sound understanding of the common man’s plight, which has ensured that the price of a ticket is very much affordable for anyone and everyone.
Ticket booking used to be manually done until the late 1980’s, but as technology progressed, a new system called computerized ticketing was introduced in 1987. With the introduction of the World Wide Web in 1995, the Indian Railways took ticketing online. In today’s day and age, only remote areas do not have access to computerized ticketing, but one can still use the UMANG mobile application for bookings and other enquiries. An Indian Railways ticket has the passenger name, age, and reason for the discount (if any) printed on it, along with the price of the ticket. The ticket prices can vary depending on aspects such as seating class, reservation charges and train classification (super-fast tickets include a surcharge).
Certain miscellaneous features of the Indian Railways are:
- The Railways offer discounts to senior citizens (over the age of 60), the disabled, students, athletes, government employees and individuals taking part in competitive examinations.
- Some berths in second class, sleeper, and specific accommodations are reserved for women.
- Season tickets, which permit unlimited traveling on specific sections or specific trains, may be available on enquiry. Foreign tourists have an option to purchase an Indrail pass, which is modelled around the Eurail pass and allows unlimited travel in India for a specific time.
- Berths can be reserved upto120 days prior the departure date. But this is only applicable to long-distance traveling.
Due to the massive population, getting a hold of tickets is not an easy task. So, when buying a ticket, it is sometimes given the status of wait-listed. Wait-listing implies that if there is a cancellation of a ticket, the wait-listed ones are the next in line to get a seat confirmation of the said cancelled ticket. The holders of a wait-listed ticket cannot board the train if it isn’t confirmed by the day of departure. A particular type of ticket called the ‘reservation against cancellation’ allows the passenger to board the train and obtain a seat that is found vacant bythe ticket collector.
Train ticket enquiry and bookings can be done on the IRCTC website and various other ticket booking websites. Nowadays the IRCTC also has an SMS booking feature.