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 temper testing 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 login details if you are already an IRCTC user.
Gone are the days of the square government website with a scary user experience. In June 2018, IRCTC completely changed website design and functionality. Now, it’s mobile-friendly! Hey, there are still bugs, but these are in the process of being resolved. Remember that it processes circa 7 bookings per second. By the way, now you can search for trains and ticket availability without even login in – I find it amazing!
IRCTC also has an app that allows you to search for trains between the starting point and the final destination. After filling in the start and end points, the app gives a list of trains between these stations. Tapping on a particular train shows its availability for different dates. 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. You can book a ticket through PayTM if you are an Indian. Since this service is not available for foreigners, I have not featured this app to avoid confusion.
Note: As of July 2018, IRCTC will charge a small additional commission (12 INR plus taxes) from booking tickets at third-party platforms. I’m still listing the popular options below.
Other user-friendly apps for searching trains and booking tickets in India
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. Check out the app for Android | iOS.
MakeMyTrip is another big aggregator of trip planning which allows you to plan your trip and book trains as well. Same as Cleartrip, it provides you with the 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. Download for Android | iOS.
Ixigo Indian rail & trains 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. Download this app for Android | iOS.
Indian train tracking apps
Indian Railway Train Status – this app has several useful features. Firstly, it can identify the accurate position of your train on the map and platform on which it will arrive – it’s a time-saver on big stations that host over 15 trains simultaneously. Also, if you know you have to visit your friends and family at Diwali, but the ticket booking hasn’t opened yet, you can set a reminder for traveling dates and the app will notify you as soon as the tickets will appear in the database.
For people traveling with general tickets on short distances, there is a feature Live Station Status, where you can see all the available trains arriving at the certain station within the next 4 hours. For instance, I had to catch a train from Bandikui to Jaipur. I neither planned it in advance nor reserved a ticket, hence I’ve searched for the trains arriving at Bandikui Junction within upcoming four hours, arrived at the station accordingly, bought a general ticket and hopped on the train.
I use this app because it is easy and lightweight. It is free, though it has ads. Nevertheless, as a user, you can define whether you want to track your app usage and send suggestions to improve it or not. Download this app for Android | iOS | Windows.
Rail Yatri 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 in real time with GPS locator through Rail Yatri.
ConfirmTkt Indian Rail Train Status & PNR Status 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. Download the app for Android | iOS.
Indian train apps for ordering food
Travelkhana. Food might be one of the main challenges of traveling on 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. Get this app for Android | iOS.
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 each category. Alternatively, 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.