The IndRail Pass has been a valuable tool for foreign nationals coming in to India to explore this country. It lets you travel on trains without prior reservation, to any destination of your choice, for the duration of that pass. An IndRail Pass can last for anywhere between half a day to 90, and it helps foreigners coming into the country bypass the madness of the Indian Railways reservation system. But UK-based SD Enterprises says that the IndRail Pass will soon be discontinued within this year. ALSO READ: Indian Railways Is Going to Speed up 500 Trains and Cut down Travel Time
The end of the IndRail Pass will likely come as a blow for foreign tourists coming to India. Train travel, despite its flaws and chaos, is an important part of the Indian experience. India has the largest railway network in the world, connecting almost every remote corner of this vast country. A journey on trains takes you through the cities, forests, mountains, grasslands and wide open fields of India. And the IndRail Pass made all this very easy. Rather than booking your seats well in advance or risk ending in the waiting list, passengers could simply hop into the train leading to the destination they chose.
But with the IndRail Pass out of the way, travelers coming from outside the country will have to queue up at railway stations or book their tickets online beforehand, like regular folk. They still have the advantage, though, with the Foreign Tourist Quota available on all Indian trains. You can make your bookings using this quota at Railway station counters or on the IRCTC website. Still, even with the special quota for foreign nationals, the removal of the IndRail Pass will add more steps and undoubtedly more hassle to train journeys.
Standing in line for tickets at railway station counters is obviously a hassle, given the length of these lines on average. Online bookings, while more convenient, has its own problems. The whole process of searching for trains, finding available seats and booking involves far too many steps. And there can sometimes be problems in accessing the website, validating contact numbers and making payments. NOW READ: Indian railway launches ‘complaint app’ for train travelers
There is one other advantage on hand, though. Foreign travelers can book their tickets up to a year in advance of their journey, as opposed to the three-month limit for Indian nationals. That should make it very easy to book seats to your destinations, although all these changes make it very difficult for backpackers and travelers just winging it with their travel plans.