Indian Railways is the lifeline of this country. It has an expansive network which carries over 23 million people daily – more than the population of Netherlands and Denmark combined. If that’s not enough for you, then just imagine if Indian railway tracks could be laid out in one straight path, they would circle the earth almost 1.5 times.
Other than the plethora of interesting facts on Indian Railways, it takes a while to learn all ins and outs of train travel in India. Despite being the best way to explore India in terms of value for money, Indian train journeys are filled with many challenges for any passenger (let’s talk about getting a TATKAL ticket, shall we 😀). Whether you are a tourist or not, you will need to book the ticket, track the train and take care of food during the travel. All these may not sound challenging if you are from the Western world, but believe me, these will be your most taxing part of your journey.
To lower your anxiety before and during the train journey, I would like to introduce to you some useful train apps in India. These are your best bet to make your journey more comfortable. I think you can classify most of the train apps in these categories:
- Indian train apps for booking tickets
- Train tracking apps
- Train apps for ordering food in India
Useful and free train apps in India
There are many start-ups and new apps coming up every year. Here I’m listing only the ones that are popular in India and that have made their name and passed the test of time.
Indian train apps for booking tickets
IRCTC Connect – Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has an app to provide a mobile experience for booking tickets for smartphone users. You can register yourself in the app or use your previous login details if you are already an IRCTC user.
As compared to the website, the app is far more user-friendly. It has a simple interface and much faster experience than the website. The app allows you to search for trains between the starting point and the final destination. After filling in start and end points, the app gives a list of trains between these stations.
Tapping on a particular train shows its availability during some days. Booking tickets from thereon is also easy as the app stores the user information after filling in once, for the next booking. Another advantage of this app over the website is its upcoming journey alerts.
Despite the variety of booking apps which I will mention further, I use IRCTC app or website, because it’s the direct source of railway tickets.
Other user-friendly apps for searching trains and booking tickets in India
Cleartrip – Cleartrip is one of the big players in the travel industry in India, providing last minute flight & hotel booking among other things. IRCTC has realized this and has partnered with Cleartrip, allowing the public to book train tickets on Cleartrip directly. Whenever you face any issue with IRCTC website or its app, Cleartrip is the best place to go. You can find different trains, seat availability, train schedule and other features with Cleartrip while booking train tickets. Basically, it’s integrated with IRCTC, yet it has a friendlier and cleaner user interface.
MakeMyTrip – another big aggregator of trip planning which allows you to plan your trip and book trains as well. Same as Cleartrip, it provides you information about different trains, their availability, seats and allows you to book the tickets. You have to read about both and choose the interface you like more.
Ixigo Indian rail & trains – ixigo’s railways app is one of the most comprehensive apps for the railway user. You can book tickets here (ixigo will redirect to IRCTC connect for booking) and get all other important details for your travel. For example, you get trains running status; check routes of multiple trains to choose the most convenient option; look into seat map of trains; see the confirmation chances if you are waitlisted; get PNR status etc. This app has almost all the features required for complete Rail Travel in India.
Indian train tracking apps
Indian Train Alarm – The whole concept is very simple yet innovative. It’s a fact that in Indian intercity trains no one announces which station you reach. Moreover, Indian trains are known for delays (the network is quite busy). When your train arrives at night you might not be able to sleep properly because of the fear of missing your station.
This app helps to set alarms based on your location, not on time. For instance, you can set your alarm 10 km or 15 km before your destination, and you can have a sound sleep without worrying about the whims and fancies of Indian Railways. It doesn’t need an internet connection for the alarm and it has low battery consumption. Whether the train is early or late, the app will inform you.
Rail Yatri – this app provides information about train status and railway stations. The app will save you from wasting your time while waiting for the train at the intermediate stations. It provides you alerts for travel disruptions, train delay or route change of your train. You can track the train real time with GPS locator through Rail Yatri.
In India, it is important to know tips about the station or train of your choice. Rail Yatri provides you with the station related information from the passengers.
ConfirmTkt Indian Rail Train Status & PNR Status – ConfirmTkt can show you the current availability of the train, allows to track it, informs if there are any cancellations/changes in the train route, and allows to order food in train and many other features. In my opinion, they have one special feature – to show you hidden seats.
In Indian train network, certain stations get a % of reservations. If there are no tickets in the system from your station, the tickets might be available from neighboring towns or villages. Thus, this is a cool feature to have.
Indian train apps for ordering food
Travelkhana – food might be one of the main challenges of traveling in Indian trains. There is food on board, which you can order on the spot itself. There are also vendors entering coaches on each station selling anything and everything. Yet, if you have certain food allergies, it’s always good to ensure the food matches your requirements.
Travel Khana connects reputed cafes in the close proximity to the stations around the country and delivers fresh food to your seat in the train. They have thousands of restaurants listed with them.
I’ve used Travel Khana a few times and my experience has been good so far. Even when the train was delayed, they informed me that they are tracking the train status and will deliver food accordingly.
These 8 apps will help you to travel easy & safely with Indian Railways. Of course, phone memory is limited, thus try to choose one app from the category and try to replace some apps with their websites if you don’t use them regularly.
If you have had any experience with Indian railways apps I will be glad to hear it. Also if you feel any important app is missing from above list, feel free to recommend.