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417.  How can I make online train reservations without Indian mobile phone from UK 

Questions: I want to make reservations for train tickets to travel from Delhi to Mumbai when we visit India in August 2012. I have heard so many horror stories about the procedure and have done some reading on the Internet but am confused. Can you shed some light on this topic. Thanks and look forward to a timely response so we can plan ahead. You have some great information about India on your website and best of all I enjoy your faq pages. Answers are explained very articulately. Linda Middlesex UK   Answer:  Thanks for your kind words regards to our website. Regards to making online reservations for trains on Indian railways from UK, due to recent changes in rules and regulations by the Indian railway authorities, a local mobile phone number is required. In India cell phones are commonly referred to as mobile phones. The result of this new rule, has left many people who reside abroad, and obviously do not have access to a local Indian mobile phone number, being denied the opportunity of making online train reservations for travel within India. In the past, to reserve online tickets on Indian railways, was quite simple and involved: Register with Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) and once details were filled in your password/login was sent to you by email. From 2012 there has been a major change in this procedure. Now when registering with the IRCTC, it is compulsory to provide a local Indian mobile phone number. This is the phone number, where the railway authorities will now send you an SMS message (text message) showing your One Time Password (referred to as OPT) This makes registering with the IRCTC to use their online booking facility, impossible if you don't have a local Indian mobile phone number. Update May 15, 2012: Travel Indian Smart reports that foreigners can now make train reservations online now, even if they do not have a local Indian mobile telephone. You can read the article by visiting http://travelindiasmart.com/train_tickets.php Alternative Methods if you don't have Indian mobile number Many people wonder if there is a work around this local mobile phone requirement. Initially there was! the local mobile rule was brought in sometime in 2011 and some agents had started doing reservations for people abroad who did not have local phone numbers and charging them a fee. The IRCTC allowed travel portals such as Cleartrip.com, Makemytrip.com, and Yatra.com to make reservations and they were allowed access to the reservation computers for this purpose. In fact many foreigners found it easier to book through a travel portal because: 1. They did not require a local mobile phone number to reserve their train tickets on Indian railways 2. They could use their foreign credit cards to pay for their tickets. (The IRCTC site only accepted credit cards issued in India, the only exception was the American Express card.) Current situation as of January 2012 It appears as of 2012, things have changed again. Under the current rules, it appears that even to reserve tickets via any authorized travel portal, IRCTC registration must be done. As mentioned earlier, this registration is not possible, unless the person trying to register has access to a local Indian mobile phone number. Some people use a friend or relatives local phone number, perhaps to get around this requirement. Some websites have workarounds to the mobile phone requirement listed, they are probably not going to work, may be illegal and hence I am not going to discuss such schemes. Make Indian Railway Train Reservations on Priority There are two options that I can think of: 1. Use the train reservation facility on arrival at Delhi airport. Railway bookings can be done here from 8am to 8 pm. The booking desk is located in terminal 2. 2. Visit any of the International Tourist Bureau offices located in major cities of India. International Tourist Bureau Information Foreign tourists visiting India can make train reservations at the International Tourist Bureau offices on a priority basis. The railway authorities have a special quota for train tickets reserved for foreign tourists. The chances are that you can get tickets here for even the same day of travel. I have personally used this facility in Delhi and Mumbai and have never been disappointed. There is no additional fee charged here and you can now even pay in India currency. You must however have a passport to show that you are indeed a foreign tourist visiting India. Where Foreigners can buy train tickets in Delhi. The International Tourist Bureau in Delhi is located on the first floor of the New Delhi Railway station. They are open from 8 am to 8 pm Monday to Saturday and from 8 am to 2 pm on Sundays. The phone number is 91-11-42625156.  (91 is country code, 11 is Delhi code) Foreigners approaching the railway station may be approached by touts who may try and do the reservation for you. Stay away from these people, do your own reservation, it will normally not take more than thirty minutes and you will be sure you have a valid ticket. Good luck with your visit to India.
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