The Indian Railway Ministry’s initiative, Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), has revolutionised train travel in India. The IRCTC operates under the concept of all under one roof and offers services such as IRCTC rail tour packages, spanning hotel bookings, tourist trains, car rentals, and online rail ticket bookings or e-ticketing. It also has a 24/7 contact centre to help address issues such as tour bookings, train reservations, availability of seats, and train timings.  IRCTC, sometime people also pronounce it IRTC, is responsible for catering, tourism and online ticketing operations of the Indian railways.

Train Ticket Reservations: allows you to train tickets booking online, making the process of railways reservations instantaneous and simple. IRCTC provides two options − i−tickets and e−tickets. If you pick the i-ticket, the rail ticket will be delivered to your doorstep by courier. However this service is available only in select cities across India. If you opt for the E-ticket, you can save it on your computer and take a print out. IRCTC has recently launched a new medium for booking tickets called IRCTC mobile. IRCTC Mobile enables you to book your tickets, as well as, perform various other services through your mobile phone. In order to avail of this service, you must use a java enabled phone or a smart phone with a GPRS connection. Tickets ordered using this medium will be delivered to your postal address within three days.

IRCTC General, Tatkal & Ladies quota Booking:

IRCTC has come up with a ‘ladies quota’ from 2011 and with its different bank tie-ups also offers frequent discount schemes on specific credit and debit cards. Perhaps, the most discerning feature of IRCTC is the scheme of ‘tatkal’ booking, which is meant for travellers who have not booked in advance and find that tickets have been sold out. The tatkal booking service is available for all classes of travel with the exception of AC first and executive class. There is a particular number of seats under tatkal quota and tickets are given on first come first serve basis. To use this service, one has to check for ticket availability. If tickets are available, one can buy the same through IRCTC in lieu of a premium payment. However, cancellations or modifications are not allowed on tatkal tickets. Sale of tatkal e-tickets open just a day before the journey excluding the date of departure. The timings for Tatkal bookings have also changed. Now bookings start at 10 am instead of 8 am.. IRCTC also has provisions for discounted tickets for senior citizens. Payment modes include cash cards, debit cards, and credit cards through IRCTC Mobile app and other online mediums.

IRCTC - Tourist Trains and Tour Packages:

IRCTC offers a plethora of special tourist trains and tour packages aimed at covering the most popular destinations across the country. Here is a quick look at some of the most frequently used services in this domain. However, for more detailed information, you will need to log in to the IRCTC website.

Bharat Darshan:

This IRCTC offering spans almost all the major tourist destinations across the country. Here is a rough route network:
  • Route: Chandigarh - Ambala - Kurukshetra - Karnal - Panipat - Delhi Cantt. - Jaipur - Agra - Gwalior - Jhansi - Bina - Bhopal (Habibganj) - Manmad (Shirdi) - Reningunta (Tirupati) - Rameshwaram - Madurai - Kanyakumari and back to Chandigarh via Bhopal.
  • Fares: The package costs approximately 6,200 INR
  • Duration: The duration is about 12 days.

Golden Triangle of South India:

This IRCTC package takes you across Bangalore, Mysore and Ooty. The entire circuit is known as the Golden Triangle of South India. The route is pretty simple and it is as follows:
  • Route: Bangalore - Mysore - Ooty
  • Fares: 7,500 INR approximately
  • Duration: The trip lasts for roughly 7 days.

Steam Express (Fairy Queen):

IRCTC brings history to life! The Steam Express recreates an old world charm and chugs along some of the most historically important destinations in the country. The route network is something like this:
  • Route: Delhi - Alwar - Sariska - Alwar - Delhi
  • Fares: Fares range from about 3,200 INR to 10,200 INR
  • Duration: About 2 Days.

DHR (Darjeeling Himalayan Railway) Joyride:

Many people visiting IRCTC enquire about DHR. Well, this one has three parts, namely Morning Tour, Afternoon Tour and Heritage Toy Train Safari:
  • Morning Tour: This tour is from Darjeeling to Ghoom and back. Passengers also get to check out the DHR Museum at Ghum. The fare is about 360 INR.
  • Afternoon Tour: The route and fare is the same as above.
  • D.H.R. Heritage Toy Train Safari: This toy train safari passes through the verdant woodlands of Mahanadi Reserve Forest sitting atop an altitude of about 1,404 ft. The fare is approximately 500 INR

Indian Railways Luxury Trains:

IRCTC pampers its patrons no end when it comes to luxury trains. Here is a brief look at four of the top offerings.

The Deccan Odyssey:

IRCTC brings royalty to life through the Deccan Odyssey. You get to travel in style across quite a few very well known destinations in the country. The route network goes something like this:
  • Route: Mumbai, Sindhudurg, Tarkarli, Goa, Kolhapur, Aurangabad, Ellora, Chandrapur (Tadoba Wildlife), Wardha (Sevagram), Ajanta and Nasik.
  • Fares: It will cost you about 1,33,875 INR.
  • Duration: About 8 days.

Heritage on Wheels:

Explore Rajasthan’s rich legacy aboard IRCTC's magnificent 'Heritage on Wheels'. The route covered is as follows:
  • Route: Jaipur-Bikaner-Tal Chhapar & Shekhawati-Jaipur.
  • Fares: The fare starts at about 3,750 INR per night.
  • Duration: About 4 days.

Maharajas’ Express:

This is perhaps the most well known luxury train initiative by IRCTC. This train is also probably the most luxurious way of completing the Golden Triangle Tour of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. The route is roughly as follows:
  • Route: Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Ranthambore National Park, Chittorgarh, Keoladeo National Park and Agra.
  • Fares: Log in to the website of ‘Palace on Wheels’ for fares.
  • Duration: About 8 days.

Heritage on Wheels:

This one is probably the most lavish venture by IRCTC. In fact, it is supposedly India’s most expensive luxury train and covers many of the popular tourist destinations in India. IRCTC’s Maharajas’ Express offers a choice of five different packages. Check out the route mentioned below:
  • Route: The route depends upon the package you choose. The packages are:
    • Heritage of India
    • Treasures of India
    • Gems of India
    • Indian Panorama
    • Indian Splendor

    You will have to log in to for detailed package information.
  • Fares: The fares also vary from package to package.
  • Duration: The duration for ‘Treasures of India’ and ‘Gems of India’ is 4 days, while for the rest it is 7 days.