Emergency train traveling India when officially seats are not available

So you have an urgency to travel to another city but there are no seats available?

This is common scene in Indian railways. The train tickets booking starts 120 days before the departure and still the tickets get booked and seats are not available especially during holiday and festival seasons.

But fret not! On this page we will give you some tips and hacks using which you can legally travel in the train without paying any bribe or hiring a travel agent.

Using these ideas you’ll be able to travel in the train even in peak season without worrying much about wait list tickets,or bribe anyone.

Here they are:

  1. PLAN A – If you made a plan one day before – TATKAL (urgent Quota)You probably already know about this quota. If you don’t here’s a quick introduction.

    What is Tatkal Quota?
    Tatkal means quick. This quota was introduced in 2004 for passengers who want to travel last minute.

    In almost every train 20-30% seats are reserved under this quota. But some trains do not have it. For example, Rajdhani. But most of the Express, Mail, Shatabdi, Jan-shatabdi trains have it.

    For example, Jammu Tavi Express which goes from Ajmer to Jammu has around 150 seats available in sleeper class for tatkal quota!

    How Tatkal works
    This quota opens for reservation one day before the departure of the train. So if your travel date is 22 march, the reservation will open one day before on 21 march at 10:00 AM.

    There is an additional charge on the base fare as tatkal fees. And you cannot cancel a tatkal ticket. If you do you will not get a refund.

    Problem with Tatkal Quota
    It is not easy to book tatkal quota especially during peak season times.

    The agents come and stand in the line from last night. Even when you go at station at 9:00 AM in the morning you will find 100-200 people outside the station.

    Thousands of people open railway website in the morning which makes is slow. It is difficult to complete the booking at this hour.

    And at 10:00 AM, when booking starts normally all the tickets are sold off within 20-30 minutes.

    But tatkal is not all that bad. There are several (in most) cases when people do get seats under this quota. But just in case you don’t, move on to next option


  2. PLAN B – No availability in Tatkal, or traveling on same day before 4 hours of departure of train
    24 June 2013 update:
    This trick may not work anymore 🙁 because of recent change in railways policies!

    This is a major setback for railway fans who traveled in emergencies using this trick. But its not available any more.

    Now you need to check your pnr status and you need a  confirmed ticket status before you can board the train.

    This has been my favorite trick which worked like a charm everytime i had to travel in emergency.

    But I think it’s still possible to travel in emergency with a wait list ticket in following circumstances:

    – You have a wait-list ticket for a short journey (leading up-to next station).
    – You are ready to pay a fine.

    In the recent rule change, if a person is found to be traveling with a waitlist ticket, he might have to pay a penalty, and will be asked to de-board the train at next station.

    Now in this case, if you just want to travel to next station (some trains have station gap anywhere between 100 to 300 kms)

    But then again, this is untested and risky so use this trick at your own risk!

    Suppose if you have to catch the same day train and all tatkal tickets are booked.

    In that case reach the station at least 4-5 hours prior the departure of the train and buy a wait list ticket. Buy the ticket before the reservation chart is prepared.

    Chart preparation
    This chart is prepared 4 hours prior to departure of trains starting in daytime. For trains starting in night and early morning time chart is prepared at 8:00 pm on previous day.

    Now getting a ticket at this time is good because once chart is prepared many unused quotas make space for wait list tickets. Get a wait list ticket and check your PNR status after chart is prepared.

    Travel even if ticket is not confirmed
    Now just in case your seat is not confirmed you can still board the train. Yes, many few people know that you can travel in a train even with a non-confirmed ticket. You won’t have to pay any fine and you can even go inside the compartment and sit on any of the berths. Yes, its a less known fact but, you are legally allowed to travel on a non-confirmed ticket.

    Don’t believe us? Of course we don’t expect you to,  here is the quote from official railway website:

    “When berths are reserved for passengers, the intention is to provide sleeping accommodation between 9 PM to 6 AM. During 6 AM to 9 PM, the passengers concerned, if required make room for other passengers in compartment up to its carrying capacity.
    Read the complete version here on official website

    This is the hidden fact which a very few people know. Not many guidebooks mention this. The sleeper coach has many vacant births during the day. You are legally allowed to go and sit/sleep on any of the births. In most cases you won’t even have to ask the fellow passengers!

    Using this trick you won’t have to worry about getting a confirmed ticket in emergencies. Of course it is not as comfortable as a confirmed ticket but not bad either. It is under the rules. You don’t have to bribe anyone. You don’t pay a fine. And in most cases you can a place to sit and even sleep on top birth!

    But please remember:

    • Do not board the train with a wait list e-ticket (booked online). A wait list eticket is considered without ticket.
    • This is useful only when you have railway counter printed ticket with you.

    This is one rule which many tourists don’t know about. Many a times travel agents and ticket staff will discourage you from traveling like this. May be because they don’t want people to know this trick as it will decrease their business profits.

    So, no matter where you want to go. If your train starts in the morning and the journey is completed before 12-14 hours (which covers around 700-800 kms in most trains) then you can easily travel with this wait list ticket.

    So next time, don’t worry if you have an urgency or last minute plans. Reach the railway station 4 hours before and get a wait list tickets. If it gets confirmed cool, if it does nt, you can still travel!

    At least it will be a lot better then general coach!

    Also try to travel using this trick only in the sleeper compartment if you are using a wait list ticket. Why? Simply because, sleeper class have a lot of empty berths on top during the day which AC chair cars in trains like Rajdhani don’t have.

    If you go in chair car trains then it might not get you a place to sit and you might just have to sit on your luggage close to the door.

    My experience traveling with wait list tickets is only in sleeper class. So i am sure that it works there. I will try traveling in an AC compartment and let you know the results.

    But till then, long live sleeper class wait list ticket!

  3. PLAN C – Upto 1 hour before the departure of the train – Current reservation windowSuppose if you suddenly made a plan to travel within 1-2 hours. What’s then? Most people will either opt for a tiring bus journey, or book an expensive plane ticket.Many people think that you cannot book a reserved ticket after chart preparation. Which is not true! There is an additional facility, known as “current reservation window” which opens one hour prior to departure of train. Many times you will get a ticket on this window!

    So next time you reach a railway station better then traveling in general compartment ask for current reservation window. Usually it is located close to the inquiry window at the main entrance.

    Current reservation is available only on few major railway stations. So it will not work every time. For example, Shatabdi express that runs from Delhi to Mumbai might not have a current reservation window at Kota along the way.

    So better confirm from railway inquiry if a train indeed has current reservation window at your station of booking before making a final plan!

    You can benefit from this trick only at a selected railway stations and selected trains. But in most cases when you chose to travel from bigger stations this will get it covered. If there is no current reservation window for a particular train or at your station OR if there are no seats available even here then move on to next option


  4. PLAN D – Buy a General ticket and board the train!24 June 2013 update:
    This trick may not work anymore 🙁 because of recent change in railways policies! 

    You may still use this trick of buying a general ticket, but you cannot board the train until talk to the TT and he confirms that he will give you a ticket. Which is not going to happen!

    This is a major setback for railway fans who traveled in emergencies using this trick. But its not available any more.

    Now you need a confirmed ticket to board the train.

    So you did nt get a ticket at current reservation window? Or may be you just suddenly plan to catch a train? What should you do?

    In this case you can buy a general ticket and board the sleeper class! Now wait for the ticket checker. And show your general ticket on his arrival.

    If seats are vacant on the train:
    According to the law, if the seat is vacant he must charge the difference of full fare and provide you the seat number along with a slip.

    There is no fine or fees that he can charge if seats are vacant. And you will get a seat.  For example, you are traveling from Mumbai to Delhi and you bought the general ticket for 200 rupees and sleeper class ticket cost is 500 rs. Then you will pay him additional 300 (500-200) and get a seat.

    If seats are not vacant
    There might be a case where he may tell you that seats are not vacant. In that case you will have to pay additional 250 rs fine along with 300 rupees differnece. So total cost of ticket will come to 750.

    Once you pay this fee you get the right to sit and travel in the berth as mentioned in PLAN B

    Just remember that the ticket checker might ask for an additional fee here (AKA bribe).

    Never pay anything. its better to pay 250 rupees fine that goes to the govt rather then paying 100 rupees to corruption. If there is a vacant seat he will have no option but to give you the ticket. I personally take pride is not paying the bribe but the fine.

    Sometimes, travelers are afraid and they pay a bribe. You don’t have to be scared of anything! At the max he will fine you 250 Rs. Pay a fine instead of bribe and feel like a king!

    Never pay a bribe! Just to save 100 rupees. Don’t feed the greed. It’s a request. Rest is your call..

(note: after the recent changes, Ticket Checkers will have more power on whom to give seats. And possibly ask for bribes. And now that you cannot even travel after paying a fine people will be forced to pay bribe to the TT because of the recent changes in the rules. And TT might misuse their powers as people who want to travel in emergencies will have no other option left. )

42 thoughts on “Emergency train traveling India when officially seats are not available

  1. Thanks..the information was great..!
    Is it possible to get a WL ticket from the counter and later on get it confirmed by the TTE after getting into Sleeper Class?(If seats are available.)

  2. @ traveller, if it is an overnight journey you will have to either sit in the corridor or the place near to the door.

    @ Bhagyashree
    Well, of course, if you have a wait list ticket yes you can board the train and TT can provide you with an accommodation if seats are vacant!

    In fact he SHOULD provide you a seat if the seats are vacant.

  3. hey thanks …

    nice info..

    A question:

    Plan B:
    ◦Do not board the train with a wait list e-ticket (booked online). A wait list eticket is considered without ticket.

    Does it because wait listed tickets get cancelled automatically? There were cases when from a e-ticket one ticket is confirmed while other are still in wait and in that case ticket will not be cancelled by automatically.. I belive in this case Plan B can be used. Share your views plesae

  4. @Rajiv,

    Yes, it is because wait list e-tickets gets automatically cancelled and the amount is refunded to you.

    In case of partial confirmation. I think the tickets that are on wait list would be considered without ticket. But i am not 100% sure, you may check next time with officials…

    best regards,

  5. Lets See what happens, my 2 tier ticket Dint get confirmed last day, i have purchases a 3ac ticket from main station counter which is on waitlist 40 and chart is prepared and gonna board today after 4 hours, your information is like blowing confidence in me to travel without stress but i am ready to face any situation for my Daughter im missing so badly , wish me good luck everyone !

  6. thank you very much sir for posting such a valuable article it really help mea lot to get some idea about reservation system.
    I am having a ticket from Delhi to allahabd on 5 june 3rd a.c in north east exp.The current status is PQ 25/18
    is there any chances of confirmation???
    i have checked that there are 35 seats are still available in different quotas
    reply me

    Thank you

  7. Dear all,
    1.The rules are changed now, as per rule no wait listed passenger is not allowed to travel in any of the class( Sleeper, AC),only if TT permits him to do so.
    2.In case of partial confirmation, means if you booked a e-ticket having 2 or more passengers and got only 1 passenger confirmed…all the passengers can travel on that same ticket. Your e-ticket will not be automatically cancelled and TT can never ask for bribe or any penalty. If a person on that PNR doing journey will have to ask GC(Guard certificate)from TT..""It is must if need refund of your non confirmed ticket"".
    If all of you have query please send me a mail. I will try to solve your problem.mail me at [email protected]

  8. In case of Sleeper Class carrying capacity of a coach is 72. See the coach capacity written on the bogey To sit 72. To sleep 72. So "When berths are reserved for passengers, the intention is to provide sleeping accommodation between 9 PM to 6 AM. During 6 AM to 9 PM, the passengers concerned, if required make room for other passengers in compartment up to its carrying capacity." does not entitle you to board train on WL ask sit.

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  10. pnr 2404798801. kal ki journey hai 1.10 pm ki and my status for chair car is waiting list 1 and waiting list 2.mera exam hai parso wat is the best option for me.tatkal or i must wait for this one to get confrm

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