After the fiasco of registering an account to book train tickets online using my British VISA card, I finally got into a position of being able to book a ticket, but what it appears to be telling me is that I'm only being added to a wait list, which I assume means my tickets aren't confirmed.

Can someone explain how the wait list works, and what my chances are of getting on the train successfully?

  • It currently says the wait list is 7
  • The train is the Mandor Express, from Delhi to Jodhpur on the 18th of Nov

Update: So I got the train! Although it didn't get confirmed until a few hours before it was due to leave.

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    What exactly was the fiasco you are referring to in your other thread?
    – user3474
    Commented Nov 1, 2012 at 5:28
  • I'm sorry for asking for clarification, but I had the same query as David Masters. I am currently on the waiting list for a train that I booked online. Will I get an email or something telling me if my place on the train has been confirmed due to drop outs? Or do I just have to show up on the day and hope for the best? Any help would be great. Sam
    – user4075
    Commented Jan 25, 2013 at 12:27
  • @SamDavison Read the answers here. You can check the status of your tickets online. And nope, you won't be sent an email. Commented Jan 25, 2013 at 16:53
  • @SamDavison Haha. Email made me crack up. :D Though I know your pain. I am going off tangent (and this is an old question), but people are used to waiting lists; I am told the flux of people means a waiting list of 25 on famous trains isn't bad either. But I planned before my registration, and the faces of the surrounding people at registration counter was priceless when ticket after ticket were confirmed. Two of them actually congratulated me! That is the one and only glorious trip I took through train. :D Commented Mar 4, 2013 at 18:03
  • There is often a special allowance for foreigners. Due to a change of circumstances (related to eating the wrong stuff even though I tried not to :-) ) I sought to buy a ticket Chennai-Pune by train one day before travelling. Not recommended - but I got a sleeper class ticket - a wonderful experience far better than any travel log would suggest. Cost was about $US5 for 20 hours/1000 km. Commented May 10, 2014 at 15:33

3 Answers 3


The wait list system for Indian train tickets is simply a case of supply and demand - there's so many people wanting to travel and only so many seats to go around. So there are three 'booking statuses' which may be specified when you book a train ticket:

  • Reserved / confirmed: The booking is confirmed and a seat has been set aside for you. Note that the specific seat may NOT be specified on your ticket even if your ticket is confirmed. This is because the final seating charts are sometimes decided an hour or two before the train departure. More on how to check the final status of your ticket below.
  • RAC (reservation against cancellation): An RAC ticket is a status just above a wait listed ticket, and means you get converted to a confirmed seat in case of a no show by someone else. In most cases, RAC tickets do get converted to confirmed and you can often at least get on the train with an RAC ticket.
  • Waitlisted: You cannot get on the train unless the final chart before departure confirms that your seat has been reserved. It's a first-in, first-out queue of people waiting to get a seat.

The reason for this system is that due to demand, many people book tickets months in advance. Due to this - planning months in advance - many people's travel plans do often change and some people cancel their tickets. Hence, the waitlist system allows you to book a ticket and then wait in queue to be next in line for a reserved seat.

Now I mentioned that even with a confirmed ticket, the seat number / coach number might not be mentioned. Regardless of what the ticket says (confirmed / RAC / waitlist), final seating charts are published and put up on notice boards in stations which list the final passenger manifest. You can also check this online (using the Indian Railways PNR status page) or the automated telephone line mentioned on the back of your ticket.

As a rule of thumb, if your waitlist number is in the range of 10-20, depending on how busy in the season it is, there is a high chance of your ticket getting confirmed. Because the final charts are not published until a few hours before departure, you might have to wait till quite late to find out - but if it's in single digits, then it's almost always true that your ticket gets confirmed.

If you really want to be sure, a certain percentage of tickets on every train is set aside for short-notice bookings (called 'Tatkal' tickets) which open at 10am, 24 hours before departure. These tickets cost slightly more than normal tickets but give you the flexibility to make bookings at short notice. If your waitlist number is double digits, it makes sense to keep checking the online system to see how quickly your waitlist number is reducing which will give you an idea of whether you're moving up in queue or not, i.e., a lower numeric waitlist number - and if it doesn't seem to be progressing in the final few days before the journey, then to cancel the original ticket and get a Tatkal ticket instead.

  • 1
    Really great answer. Thanks a lot for taking the time! I'll go ahead and book :) Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 15:00
  • 1
    +1 for a great answer about how Indian rail ticketing works. You can also add information about various booking quotas which influences how "fast" the wait-list moves to make this answer more complete.
    – RedBaron
    Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 8:43
  • 1
    A very important lesson to add: Never assume that a reservation under your legal name is enough, even if you are confirmed. If someone else made a reservation under your name over the counter and obtained a paper ticket, they need to mail or deliver the paper ticket to you, and you need to produce this paper. Otherwise your reservation will be cancelled and you will be kicked off the train. No amount of begging, pleading or arguing will get you your seat. You can avoid this by reserving online, in which case I think you just need to show screenshot or printout.
    – ADTC
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 22:00

I answered a similar question and felt this question is searched more often and felt this could be useful information to visitors (though this is in no way probably useful for the OP).

Recently launched applications which sort of use statistical data to predict the confirmation can soothen your nerves, yes this is like fortune reading and may not be 100% but its better than plain guess or no information at all.

Some of these services are

http://www.confirmtkt.com/ http://www.trainman.in/

You can use these and if all of them indicate the same result, you probably have an answer (but nothing is final and only chart preparation can ultimately answer if you get a confirmation or otherwise). I have used these services and they are reasonably good, with more data they can only do better.


Please see this answer here

I would strongly suggest that you do not board the train if you ticket is NOT changed to "confirmed" by the journey date. Technically, it is prohibited to board a train for which you have a waitlisted ticket (not the status at the time of purchase, but at the time of journey).

Another alternative is to buy "Tatkal" or "emergency" tickets, which can be bought as the journey date approaches. Tatkal tickets may or may not be "confirmed" tickets. Confirmed Tatkal tickets cannot be refunded.


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