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Railways IRCTC 2024- Reservation, Cancellation and Refund Rules

Indian Railways (IR) is the national railway system in India managed and maintained by the Ministry of Railways. With over 20000 trains and over 7300 stations spread across the country, it is considered to be one of the four largest railway networks in the world. The railway network in India is the preferred mode of transportation for billions of Indians as it connects most of the states and territories in the country.

To cater to their needs and in line with the latest technological advancements, Indian Railways has made train ticket booking, payments, cancellations, refunds, enquiries, complaints and feedback all simple and hassle-free. Related process. Now, you just need an internet connection to book your train tickets online through computer and smartphone.

Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC)

The online booking and ticketing operations of the Indian Railways are operated by one of its subsidiaries, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation, popularly known as IRCTC. Set up by the Ministry of Railways, IRCTC operates online ticket booking services through a website called Next Generation. In fact, while IRCTC is the only official train ticket booking website of Indian Railways, there are many other platforms and apps available these days. Apart from facilitating online train ticket booking, IRCTC is also involved in catering and tourism services.

Railways IRCTC 2024- Reservation, Cancellation and Refund Rules

The IRCTC website has a user-friendly interface that allows you to book your train tickets online. Once you have created an account and logged in to the site with your login credentials, you can:

  • Find trains running between two stations (destination)
  • Find out if seats are available on trains
  • Check train ticket fare in different travel categories
  • Book your train tickets
  • P n r. check status
  • check train schedule
  • Check Train Running Status (Through National Rail Inquiry System)
  • Cancel your train tickets if necessary
  • Change boarding point if necessary
  • Book a meal (only available for some stations)
  • Book special tourist trains
  • The website supports multiple payment methods including debit cards, credit cards, net banking and digital wallets. IRCTC also has a mobile train ticket booking app called Rail Connect for Android devices.

Indian railway ticket booking

Indian Railways requires you to pre-book or pre-book your seats in all travel categories except general class. This ensures that you have a confirmed berth or seat in the train and class of your choice. You can make a reservation in three ways:

  • Fill the form by visiting the PRS (Passenger Reservation System) counter of the railway station.
  • Directly online through IRCTC portal (website and mobile app)
  • Online through third party websites and apps (Book tickets through IRCTC)

For general reservation seats, reservations can be made up to 120 days before the date of travel. However, Tatkal booking can be done only one day before the travel date. After paying and booking your seat, you will receive a numbered ticket called Passenger Name Record or PNR. Your ticket will be physical (paper ticket) during counter booking and digital (email and SMS) online booking.

Tatkal ticket booking

Tatkal is a ticketing scheme or quota launched by the Indian Railways. This allows passengers who plan their journey in a short period of time or are unable to get a normal quota ticket to book tickets a day before the date of travel. This facility is available for all express trains and mail trains and all types of reservation categories.

Tickets booked under the Tatkal scheme are priced higher than normal quota tickets. Tatkal booking can be done online and through train booking counters. Booking, cancellation and refund rules for Tatkal booking are different from normal booking. For example, if you cancel a confirmed Tatkal ticket, you will get a refund on cancellation of a confirmed ticket booked in the general quota.

Premium tatkal booking

Premium Tatkal is a new ticket scheme/allocation introduced by Indian Railways where, like Tatkal, passengers can book their tickets a day before the date of journey. The main difference between Tatkal and Premium Tatkal is that Tatkal is charged double the ticket price. Furthermore, Premium Instant follows a dynamic pricing system. That is, when the demand for tickets increases, the price of premium Tatkal tickets also increases. Another major difference is that premium Tatkal tickets can be booked online only through the IRCTC portal.

Indian Railway Classes

In train language, the term class refers to different types of train compartments, which have different ticket prices and facilities. The travel classes in Indian Railways trains are given below:

AC ClassesNon AC classes
AC First Class (1 AC)Sleeper Class (SL)
AC Two Tier (2 AC)Second Class or Second Seater (2S)
AC Three Tier (3 AC)Unreserved/General (UR/GEN)
AC Chair Car (CC) 
Executive Chair Car (EC) 

No train can have these categories. Additionally, some travel classes such as first class (FC), AC three-tier economy (3E), and entourage (EA) are available only in certain types of trains.

Types of Indian Railways Trains
Trains of Indian Railways are classified into different categories based on various factors like speed, number of stops, fare structure, facilities, network priority etc. Different types of trains in Indian Railways:

  1. Passenger
  2. Mail
  3. Express
  4. Superfast Express
  5. Intercity Express
  6. Suburban
  7. Rajdhani Express
  8. Shatabdi Express
  9. Duronto Express
  10. Garib Rath
  11. Toy Trains
  12. Sampark Kranti Express
  13. Tejas Express
  14. Humsafar Express
  15. Rajya Rani Express

In addition to these, Indian Railways has introduced several other trains including Uday Express, Mahatma Express, and Double Decker Express, to mention a few.

PNR status

Two important terms used in the ticket booking system of Indian Railways are: Indian Railways. The acronym PNR stands for Passenger Name Record, which is a 10 digit number that is generated when you book a train ticket online or offline. This number refers to passenger and journey details stored in the Indian Railways database.

Using the PNR number on your ticket, you can check the following details about your journey:

  • Train name and number
  • seat and coach
  • charge
  • travel class
  • Chart status (ready or not)
  • Booking status and current status (if confirmed, waitlisted or RAC)
  • Such as boarding time and arrival time.

You can check your PNR status on IRCTC site or through SMS or call. The PNR number generated against the ticket is unique and is valid only till the completion of the journey.

Indian railway quotations
Depending on the number of coaches in it, a train may have several hundred seats in different travel categories. These seats are distributed to passengers under different reservation quotas. That is, a certain number of seats in a train are reserved for different categories of passengers and certain emergencies. While some reservation quotas are open to the general public, others are reserved only for individuals who meet the eligibility criteria for that quota.

Most of the seats in the train are allotted under general reservation like general reservation, tatkal, premium tatkal etc. Reservation for special categories like passengers, train staff, emergency etc. forms the remaining percentage of seats.

Reservation quota in Indian Railways trains is as follows:

Name of the QuotaAvailable for
General QuotaGeneral Public
Tatkal QuotaGeneral Public
Premium Tatkal QuotaGeneral Public
Roadside QuotaGeneral Public
Pooled QuotaGeneral Public
Senior Citizen Quota (Lower Berth Quota)Male senior citizens above the age of 60 years, female senior citizens above 58 years, women above 45 years, and women who are pregnant (combined quota for all these categories of travelers)
Ladies QuotaFemale passengers 
Parliament House QuotaBoth sitting and former MPs
Defence QuotaDefence personnel
Divyangjan QuotaPassengers who are physically handicapped
Yuva QuotaPassengers who are unemployed (15 to 45 years of age)
Foreign Tourist QuotaForeign nationals traveling in Indian Railway trains
Duty Pass QuotaRailway employees (both serving and retired) who are traveling on duty pass, privilege pass or post-retirement complimentary pass in specified trains
Railway Employee QuotaEmployees of Indian Railways who are traveling on duty in a train

Indian Railway Rules for Reservation, Cancellation, and Refund 2024

The ticketing operations of Indian Railways are bound by certain rules, eligibility criteria, and conditions. These rules pertain primarily to three areas:

  • Ticket Reservation Rules: There are specific rules and conditions applicable to passengers who reserve their tickets online or offline. These cover:
    • General conditions for ticket booking like how many days before the journey you can book your ticket, how many seats you can book in one go, etc.
    • Conditions applicable to senior citizens and people traveling on different quotas
    • Rules regarding proof of identity
    • Rules regarding the transfer of booked tickets
    • Rules related to changing the boarding station
  • Ticket Cancellation Rules: After reserving your seats on a train, you can cancel the journey, if required, until the chart is prepared. For canceling tickets after the chart preparation, you will have to file a TDR (Ticket Deposit Receipt) as per Indian Railway rules. Likewise, you can cancel your tickets partially – that is, cancel the reservation for one or more passengers out of the total number of passengers traveling on a ticket. Cancellation of e-Tikcets booked online through IRCTC can also be done online. Those who booked their ticket from reservation counters can cancel it through IRCTC website or by visiting the counters. The rules of Indian Railway train ticket cancellation pertain to the following areas:
    • Cancellation of e-Tickets
    • Cancellation of counter tickets
    • Cancellation of General Quota bookings
    • Cancellation of Tatkal bookings
    • Cancellation rules of Premium Tatkal bookings
    • Cancellation of Waitlist tickets
    • Cancellation of RAC tickets
    • Cancellation of bookings if the train is cancelled
    • Rules related to partial cancellation of bookings
    • Rules related to the cancellation of tickets after chart preparation and Ticket Deposit Receipt (TDR) filing
  • Refund Rules: You will get a refund for the cancelled ticket in accordance with the refund rules of Indian Railways. Depending on when you cancel the ticket, a cancellation fee will also be charged. Refund for counter tickets can be collected from any PRS counter upon submitting the ticket while refund for e-Tickets booked through IRCTC website will be credited to your bank account. Major rules related to refund include:
    • Refund rules of General Quota bookings
    • Refund rules of Tatkal bookings
    • Refund rules of Premium Tatkal bookings
    • Refund rules of Waitlist tickets
    • Refund rules of RAC tickets
    • Rules related to refund of partial cancellation
    • Refund rules for cancelled or diverted trains

India Railway Zones

The operations of Indian Railways are divided and organized into different zones. To put it simply, these zones are geographical regions such as Northern, Eastern, Southern, Central, Western, North Western, North Eastern, East Coast, etc. Each zone has a headquarter and is divided further into divisions. As of today, there are 18 zones including the Metro railway of Kolkata and these zones together constitute 68 divisions. (Read More)

Filing Customer Complaints and Suggestions

India Railways has a web portal and mobile application called Complaint Management System or COMS exclusively for handling customer complains. Passengers who want to lodge complaints or make suggestions or give feedback can do it in the following ways.

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