Running 11,000 trains which transport almost 2.5 crore passengers daily is no joke. Indian Railways is one of the biggest rail networks in the world. But big numbers and quality don’t always go hand in hand. While the railways in this country do a great job of ferrying millions from one place to another each day, the travel experience leaves a lot to desire.
Being a tech website, we thought why not explore the options (read apps and web tools) that could come in handy for every train traveller in India that has a smartphone.
So we started off with listing the challenges, right from the time we start looking for a train ticket to the point when we reach our destination, and then we searched for apps and websites that help in making these processes easier. Most of these have been tested on Android, but hopefully, iOS versions are available too.
Indian Railway by Smart Apps is one of the best apps to get train and seat availability status between stations. You don’t even need to link your IRCTC account to see the status. Just type in the source and destination station along with the date of travel, and perform the search.
You will see a list of trains for the route along with the availability status for each class. The feature that makes the app better than the others is that you get all the nearby stations included in the search results. So for example, if you search for Kolkata, stations like Sealdah and Howrah will be included in the train availability list.
Furthermore, if you spot a suitable train for your travel, the train schedule (timetable) can also be viewed by tapping on the particular train result and selecting View Train Schedule.
2. Waiting List Confirmation
Availability of seats has always been an issue with Indian Railways, and it’s quite normal to end up as a waitlisted traveller while booking, but what are the chances of the ticket to get confirmed? Wouldn’t it be great to get an idea about the probability?
Rail Yatri app shows the seats available along with the probability of confirmation right next to it. You get high, medium and low scale based upon the past trends. The predictions may or may not be accurate so take it with a pinch of salt.
You can also use the website called Erail.in where you can type in the train number and date of journey. The search result will show you the coach information where you can check if an extra coach will be added to the train or not. There is a Erail app for Android too.
If you see that an additional coach like AE or BE is added, it increases the probability of getting a confirmed ticket.
3. Get Coach Position Info
So that was how you could get coach info using an app called Erail. However, if you don’t have any dedicated railways apps installed, just open up Google search app, type the train number and search.
The first website will be of Rail Info and there you will know about the coach status — which side the engine will be and how the coaches will be aligned — giving you a fair idea where you need to board. This trick can be a lifesaver when you are running late and have no time to waste.
This website also gives information like train cleanliness and punctuality which are crowdsourced, and even you can contribute your reviews here.
4. Order Delicious Food
Food is one thing I never compromise on, and it should be hygienic and tasty. But we all know how things go in the railway pantry.
But thanks to the advancement in the world of tech, you can now order food from other sources right from your mobile. Apps like IRCTC Catering, Rail Yatri and Travel Khana helps you in ordering your favourite food.
Just type in the PNR number in the app, select the station you would like to be served on and order the food. Apart from online payment options, you can also use wallets and cash on delivery.
5. Live Train Running Status
While many apps claim to provide live train status, in my opinion, Rail Yatri app is the best for the task. It gives you two options. If you are travelling on the train, you can type in the train number, and the app will use the phone’s GPS to track train’s location and give you precise info on the status of the running train.
If you are not travelling on the train, just select that option and get all the info directly from the server.
6. Upcoming Station Alarm
Suppose your destination station time of arrival is 5 AM and you set the alarm for 4:30 AM only to find out that the train is running late and it will take another 2 hours to reach the destination. Indian Railway Smart Alarm is a great feature to tackle such scenarios.
In the app select Destination Alarm option and then just type in the station you wish to get down at, along with the radius in KMs (Overall distance from the station). Now all you need to do is have a comfortable sleep as the app is going to use the GPS of the phone periodically and let you know when you are in the configured radius of the station.
Moreover, as the feature does not require the internet or even network, you can completely rely on it during your train travels.
7. Avail Offers While Booking Tickets
Who doesn’t love discounts and cashback offers? That’s the reason we book flights on online resellers to get discounts and cash back. But that’s not it; you can also book rail tickets using some of the popular services like Paytm, Clear Trip and get discounts and cash back.
There are other apps available, and you can check the offer pages before making a booking. However, please do remember that you will have to link your IRCTC account to make the reservations as that’s a mandate from railways.
8. Schedule PNR Updates
Checking PNR updates on a daily basis just to see if your ticket is confirmed is so old school, we have apps to automate the task for you. Take Confirm Your Journey – PNR app for example, just type in the PNR number and schedule the time when you wish to get the automatic updates.
The app will check the updates in the background and automatically update for any changes made when compared to the last time.
9. Platform Information
Whether you are picking someone up from the station or are going to arrive on one, it’s always good to know the platform the train is coming on and if there is any delay in the arrival time. We are all aware how the inquiry section works and relying on announcements is not often a good idea.
Live Station Info feature in Indian Railways by Smart Apps gives you a helping hand in such situations. Tap on the option and type in the name of the station you would like the info on.
The app will give you all the information for the next 4 hours for the particular station that includes which train will arrive on the platforms, recent announcements, and arrival schedules.
10 Refund Calculator
There is a solid slab for refunds based on the rail ticket type and the hours to departure left for a particular train that can be used to calculate the refund amount on any ticket you are going to cancel. But if you want a straightforward answer, Rail Yatri app can help you with that.
After you check for a PNR status, the app will tell you how much will be the cancellation charges in the upcoming days and tell you the refund amount on each ticket.
11. Know More About Stations
Where the cloakroom is located or how is the condition of the Retiring rooms in a particular station? These are one of the few questions that we always have in our mind when we are in a new station and asking around for help is not optimal considering the chaos in these places.
Rail Wisdom section in Rail Yatri is a great feature where you can know a lot of things about a particular station like cloakroom, platform information and much more. All these information is crowd-sourced, and people talk about their personal experience making it more authentic.
So, those were some useful tech tips for train travellers in India where your phone and some apps can make the whole journey a great experience. If you wish to contribute any other app with some great features which can assist in the travel, please provide the info in the comments section. Let’s work together to make this the ultimate list for helping train travellers.