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How to book a train with IRCTC?
May 23, 2014 4:34 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to book a train in India via irctc.co.in, but I'm based in the US. All is well, and I've gone through some hoops to get a IRCTC account -- but now I'm not able to pay with my US credit cards - Visa, Mastercard, and AMEX alike! Has anyone had any luck, know any methods, or know any good Indian travel agencies specializing in train travel that may be able to book this for me? Help me give them my money!

Long story short - I'm trying to buy a train ticket for a "premium special" Mumbai-Delhi train (22913) in a week, simply because no other trains are available on such short notice. The quota indicates that there are 100+ AC2 tickets available, but I can't for the life of me actually get them to take my money -- I keep on failing at the payment gateway.

The tickets are only purchasable online, supposedly to prevent touts, which I understand, so it's not like I can go and buy them in person. However, the payment gateway won't take any of six different US Amex/Visa/Mastercards. People seem to have similar trouble online. Other online travel agencies (cleartrip.com, makemytrip.com) don't list this new premium special train, so it's not like I can use them either.

It sounds like my only recourse is to use a travel agent, as a way to find someone willing to book the tickets for me. Given the specifics of this train, I thought I'd ask AskMe for help - Has anyone had any luck, know any methods, or know any good Indian travel agencies specializing in train travel that may be able to book this for me? Help me give them my money!
posted by suedehead to Travel & Transportation around India (5 answers total)
 
Yeah, as a non-Indian you're not gonna have much luck using that site. In the past I've had success processing payments through MakeMyTrip, but if your train isn't listed there, I can't think of many good online solutions. If you are already in India, have you looked into the Foreign Tourist Quota?
posted by Sfving at 4:40 PM on May 23


I asked my husband, who is very good at Indian online train bookings. What he says, combined with what I say:

It is pretty much impossible to book an Indian rail ticket online with a foreign credit card, unless the ticket appears on cleartrip or makemytrip. In the past, he has had no luck finding a travel agent to do it for him. You best (and really only) bet is to go in person to a train station and plead your case at the Foreign Tourist counter and then keep insisting on seeing higher and higher officials until the ticket is in your hand. Even if the rules say the tickets can't be purchased in person, they probably can be if you throw enough of a fit. Key phrase to keep repeating: "What do I need to do to make this happen?" Note: What you may need to do is pay a small bribe.

I know this is frustrating. Welcome to India!
posted by whitewall at 7:55 PM on May 23


Apparently, IRCTC accepts cash cards as payment. You might have luck getting one of those online.
posted by Gyan at 5:12 AM on May 24


Something has changed within the Indian railway online ticketing system. We've done it many times in years gone past with overseas credit cards but when we were back for winter just gone ( 2013-2014) , there was no way we could do it. Sometimes going in in person didn't help either. I wish you luck. If you're googling/reading fora, look at the recent advice because of the change.
posted by taff at 9:58 PM on May 24


Thanks everyone!

This was kind of the only way I could make one leg of my trip, and I was prepared for the possibility that I might have to cancel other trains if I couldn't buy this ticket with a US credit card. But the incredibly helpful maya Memailed me, and introduced me to her incredibly incredibly generous and helpful friend Anu, who is based in Vadodara, Gujarat.

After some email back and forth explaining the situation, Anu actually called me at 1am his time (I'm based in New York) and actually booked the tickets for me in advance. I'm going to send him the costs of the ticket through a local bank branch, when I arrive there. To re-emphasize - he totally trusted me and plunked down a bunch of cash to help me book my train. And Maya was super trusting and generous in putting me in contact with Anu!

I am absolutely and totally blown away by the helpfulness and generosity of people everywhere, and especially in this small warm community online. Thanks to everyone for their advice and help! And thanks so much to Maya!
posted by suedehead at 12:34 PM on May 25 [3 favorites]


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