All you need to know about India’s new railway rules

India's railways

Passengers stand atop a train carriage in India. Source: Shutterstock

INDIA is experiencing some exciting new changes to their railways.

For years, global media have depicted the tired and dilapidated railways network in India, as, well, just that – dangerous, outdated, overcrowded and needing some serious TLC.

But India’s government has listened to the pleas of train users and is making vast improvements to the rail network.

These include creating India’s first all-female-run train station at Jaipur’s Gandhi Nagar, fitting sanitary pad dispensers into stations across the country, installing breastfeeding cubicles for traveling mothers, and building India’s first high-speed bullet train which will link Mumbai to Ahmedabad.

With all these developments taking place, it can be easy to lose track of the new railway rules that are being implemented alongside the network’s expansion.

Here’s what you need to know to prevent you from getting into trouble, missing your train or finding out you haven’t reserved a seat for a long train journey.

Mumbaikars need to download the new UTS app

Whether you’re a local Mumbaikar or an expat who relies on the local train network to commute to work, you will no longer be able to purchase your Mumbai Suburban Season Ticket (MSST) via the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) website.

As part of the paperless developments of the railway networks in India, the government has rolled out a new booking app called UTS. It runs on Android and can be used to book unreserved train tickets across the Chennai suburban section, Mumbai suburban section, and New Delhi.

The e-ticket sits in an e-wallet and can be reloaded whenever, wherever.

Tatkal ticket booking

The word taktal means “immediately” in Hindi, so this type of ticket is reserved for those who need to travel on urgent business. But they come with a higher price tag.

Urgent travelers could face a 50 or 100 percent fare increase for booking later. And while the prices haven’t changed, the rules surrounding booking tatkal tickets have.

If you want air-conditioned (AC) Tatkal tickets, you can purchase them from 10 am onwards the day before you travel. For non-AC Tatkal tickets, booking starts at 11 am.

The silver lining on the super price hiked tickets is that a new refundable criterion has been set out.

Passengers riding on these tickets can claim a full refund if the train is over three hours late, the train gets diverted, the train diverts before a passenger can board, or a passenger is forced to sit in a lower-class cabin if they’ve paid for an AC Tatkal ticket.

To apply for a full refund, passengers will need to file a Ticket Deposit Receipt (TDR) stating the reason for their refund.

Train-track selfies will get you jailed if it doesn’t kill you before

India currently tops the global leaderboard for most selfie-related deaths.

At last count, India had 128 selfie-related deaths either by the side of railways tracks, by large bodies of water or up great heights.

The study, aptly named “Me Myself and My killfile”, was conducted by Carnegie Mellon University and Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology in Delhi and found that all these deaths were millennials.

The Indian Rail Network has been trying to prevent these unnecessary deaths for years by making public safety announcements against “track selfies” and even setting up designated selfie areas.

However, railway police are now booking selfish and dangerous selfie snappers under Section 147 of the Railways Act which deals with trespassers.

If found guilty, the penalty for this is up to six months in jail or a fine of Rs 1,000 (US$16), or both.

This new rule is being implemented to keep passengers and self-snappers safe.