An unexpected journey: Train Travel India

So in our first post we originally wanted to give you top tips on the Taj Mahal. But we have come to learn that in India your plans do not always work out and after a 14 hour train delay we didn’t make it to the Taj Mahal untill lunch time when it was quite crowded. However we did spend 14 hours in New Dehli train station and made the most of our time by researching all about the train system and chatting to the locals to bring you the best advise on train travel in India especially if you are starting from New Dehli. We actually had a lot of fun, even though it was a long wait, and would recommend train travel to everyone … Its a great experience!

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New Delhi Train Station

Before we left we did a lot of research on train travel in India as we are moving a lot and to be honest we were a bit nervous and didn’t know what to expect. But I have to say no blog managed to prepare us for the actual experience we had. So in this post we will give you as much detail as possible so you can enjoy travelling by train in India and avoid huge delays.

Buying your ticket 

The first thing you will need to do is get on the internet and decided which train you want to get on and which class you want to travel. You can do this through Indiarail or through Clear Trip for class information we found a great website called Go India . At this stage if you have an Indian mobile phone number you can book your tickets online. If not you will have to buy your ticket in person. It is always better to buy your tickets as far in advance as possible to make sure you get the times and class your want.

As we have experienced a lot of problems with long delays we decided to chat to a local about why the network was running so bad. Alot of the problems seem to be due to fog, which is basically thick pollution that sticks in the atmosphere because of the cooler weather. India also has a priority system in place so the fastest trains Shadabdi, Duronta and Rajdhani always take priority and other trains will be put on hold to keep them running as smoothly as possible. They usually leave very early in the morning or in the evening. We would recommened taking one of these services early in the morning, to avoid long delays.

The next thing you need to do is head to the train station and buy your ticket but first check if there is an International Tourist Buraeu (ITM). If there’s not an ITM just jump in the ticket que, women can take advatage of the much shorter women’s only que or if there isn’t one go to the front of the normal que…Trust me ladies don’t que in India ! If there is an ITM go straight there you will avoid queing and can take your time and ask as many questions as you like, the one in New Dehli was great!

New Dehli International Tourist Bureau

Getting to New Dehli ITM was probably the most challenging part of our trip so far. We had just arrived in Dehli the noise, smell and volume of people were pretty overwhelming. To top it all off New Dehli train station is huge and difficult to navigate and has a large number of people trying to scam you. To avoid the confusion we had, we recommend downloading the Maps Me app which is great for offline navigation.

The first problem we had was alot, and I mean alot, of people telling us we need to go to the ITM in Rajiv Chowk just up the road. There is actually an ITM for tours there, we have no idea whether it’s official or not, but we were told by them that no train tickets were available and offered a private driver with a hefty price tag! We were then determined to go back to the station and find the actual  ITM and we eventually found the Paharganj gate. But when we tried to go in we were stopped by an ‘offical’ who asked to see our train tickets then instructed us to buy our tickets round the corner, before we could enter the station.

We didn’t trust this and when we saw the office we knew not to go there, asreceived_10154408358785817 we had seen pictures of where we wanted to go. We were getting really frustrated at this point and had been sent to all around Dehli for 4 hours. So with alot of determination we stormed past the officals and made our way for the enterance. It was not a plesant experience they ran behind us shouting to get our attention, they showed us their ‘official badges’ and told us we couldn’t enter without a ticket, the closer we got to the ITM the more people tried to stop us. But once we got to the main entrance it was clearly sign posted and easy to find. Don’t make the same mistake we did, go with determination and keep walking without looking back you will be fine. We also found putting your hand up and firmly saying no worked, as well as simply ignoring people.

The train station also has two different sides divided by the train track the ITM is on the Paharganj side, if you do arrive on the Ajmeri side go to the right corner, through security and up the escalator. You can then walk over the bridge and down to the Paharganj side. You then need to go to the huge main entrance walk to the right corner, head up the stairs and head to the right again. If it does not look like the picture below its not the official ITM. It’s open 24/7, ignore anyone who tries to tell you its closed, burnt down, blocked off or moved to a different location, even if they are an ‘official’ we’ve heard it all!

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The offical International Tourist Bureau

In the ITM you collect a ticket and whilst your waiting for your number to be called, complete the form provided. Make sure you take your passport and enough cash. You can also book tickets for onward travel after Dehli!

Getting on the train

After waiting around for serval hours we were ready to get on our train. It was on the board to depart at 18.00 the announcement was made, but 20 minuets later there was no sign of the train, it had also disappeared from all of the information boards. So we chatted to the locals who seemed to think this was pretty normal and told us to go to the enquires desk. We took advantage of the ladies don’t que rule and I pushed my way to the front and shouted excuse me untill I got someone’s attention. We were then told our train was delayed for serval more hours and the platform was unknown. Even the enquires desk seemed confused so we went back to the ITM they confirmed our new departure time and told us to go into the Chief wardens office on the platform, even though it said it was for employees only.

The Chief warden was very helpful and confirmed our departure time and platform , we just kept checking for changes with him as no other information was posted. When our train finally arrived there was enough time to find our berths and we discovered they post a list on each A\C carriage with your name and seat number, which was very convient and surprisingly organised for a train that was 14 hours delayed. The rest of our journey went smoothly and overall we met lots of nice people and ate plently of Indian sweets.

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3 A/C carriage

7 thoughts on “An unexpected journey: Train Travel India

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    1. Thanks Emma! Traveling by train has been one of the highlights from our trip. The further we’ve travelled the easier it has become. Once we got away from Delhi the delayes calmed down too. Have a great trip and let us know if you need any more tips!

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