Buying an Indian train ticket online - I concede defeat
Replies: 24 - Last Post: Aug 23, 2012 9:49 PM Last Post By: zauberberg
Jun 23, 2012 5:29 AM
Buying an Indian train ticket online - I concede defeatI concede defeat.
I have been trying to purchase an Indian train ticket online for the past month. I am a non-Indian, live outside of India and do not possess an Indian mobile phone number. To supposedly prevent fraud, as of the beginning of 2012, everybody needs to register with the government-run Indian Railways (IRCTC) before being able to buy a ticket online directly through the IRCTC site, or through a private agency such as cleartrip.com or makemytrip.com. IRCTC, Cleartrip and Makemytrip make the process sound easy.....just pick a user id, enter personal details such as name, date of birth, address, mobile number and viola.........a six digit email password is sent to your email address, and a separate SMS OTP (one-time password) is sent to your mobile number, thus enabling your IRCTC account to be activated and allow the purchase of train tickets online. The problem is for foreigners who do not possess an Indian mobile number. No other number will do; it must be an Indian number. To get around this hurdle, after one receives the email password, he/she must write an e-letter to care@irctc with an attached, scanned passport copy, and a request that the SMS OPT be sent to one's email address in lieu of the non-existent Indian mobile number. To receive the SMS OTP by email takes 2-3 weeks, if you are lucky, All this is easy enough, it just takes time. I did all of it, finally got the SMS OTP sent to my email, went to the IRCTC site, entered my user ID, my password and the SMS OTP and viola........I had an active IRCTC account. Next thing I did was try to book a train on IRCTC's site, but found to my dismay, that IRCTC does not accept foreign issued VISA or MASTER. So, I thought, ok, I'll book my ticket through cleartrip, which I know accepts foreign issue VISA and MASTER because I have bought from them in the past using these cards. I went to cleartrip, picked the train and date, then was told in order to purchase the ticket I needed to synchronize my cleartrip and IRCTC accounts. There were two options: 1) those without an IRCTC account; and 2) those already with an IRCTC account, such as myself. I clicked on the second option, filled in the requested information. To be sure I got the information correct, I simultaneously opened my IRCTC and copied it onto the cleartrip site verbatim. When finished I pressed "submit" and to my surprise I got a message that a new password would be sent to my email address. I opened my email address and found a new 6-digit password and a message that an SMS OTP would be sent to my mobile number. In other words, I was going to have to start all over again. I wrote to both cleartrip and IRCTC asking why I could't link my IRCTC with cleartrip accounts using my existing IRCTC user ID and password. Sofar, no intelligent, logical answer has come from either. I sent another scanned copy of my passport along with a request for another SMS OTP I've been waiting for 2 1/2 weeks for the second SMS OTP.
Only an Indian could have devised such a sloppy, shoddy registration procedure.......sloppy and shoddy like the whole country. What a banana republic...!!! Nothing there functions well, even by the standards of the most backward, hot and steamy banana republics. To accept only an Indian mobile number and no other is not an oversight, it is plain sloppiness and stupidity. If it were a question of money, IRCTC could charge a small service fee included in the price of the ticket to cover the cost of sending the SMS OTP to a mobile outside of India. The Indian government talks about bringing India into the top-10 tier of touristed nations. It will never get there. India gets around 5.5 million foreign tourists per year, placing it around 50 among touristed nations.. Malaysia (pop.26 million) gets around 23 million foreign tourists annually, placing at #9. Most foreign travelers to Malaysia get a 90-day free VOA (visa on arrival), it's easy to book AirAsia tickets online; you can pay with a credit card issued from anywhere in the world. Malaysia is an example of a country that is taking advantage of IT to modernize and move into the 21st century.
India is still a backward backwater. I thought I was going to be able to arrive in India by air, check one night into a hotel and next day hop on an AC train whose ticket I had bought online in advance. Now it's looking like I will have to buy a train ticket the old fashioned way after I arrive / go down to the train station, fill out a paper form, stand in queue with a thousand pushing, shoving, crazed buffaloes trying to get ahead of everybody else, waiting for an hour only to be told there are no confirmed seats left but I can be placed # 257 on the waiting list. I'm flying into Cochin, there is no tourist quota from there.
India Shining.............what a laugh................
Jun 23, 2012 6:15 AM
Jun 23, 2012 7:45 AM
Jun 23, 2012 1:16 PM
Jun 23, 2012 7:11 PM
4You posted a couple of weeks ago, and I advised you NOT to log into the IRCTC account when you get
the verification code but to use the CLEARTRIP site in order to synchronize both accounts first, which is also
what seat61.com tells you to do. I mentioned, that you can't use IRCTC if you don't have AMEX, which is also
stated on the confirmation of registration from IRCTC. So I don't know what you are carrying on about.
Obviously it doesn't work, if you don't follow the correct procedure...
Jun 23, 2012 8:50 PM
5bahutacchha - While I understand why you are pissed, if you are honestly getting so frustrated just to buy a ticket, it might not be a wise decision to go to India.
You could always book a bus service which is what a lot of Indians do to avoid the IRCTC hassle.
Jun 24, 2012 11:42 PM
7Below is the response from IRCTC Customer Care. You could send a scanned copy of your passport as mentioned below.
Subject: Re: Questions - Foreigners booking ticket via IRCTC Website
You can register at our website by filling in your mobile number. Further you need to send the scanned copy of your passport so that we can forward your email to the concerned department. Scanned passport should be sent as an attachment only (not embedded inside the email body) and size of this attachment should be less than 1MB.
Please note that you will receive your mobile verification code through email sent to your registered email ID.
Thanks & Regards
Executive, Customer Care
Jun 25, 2012 4:11 AM
8To sanoasis #7: I did exactly as you have instructed. My mistake was to log onto the IRCTC site to activate my account when I received the mobile verification code through email. Once I had an active account with IRCTC, I logged onto cleartrip.com to buy a ticket (cleartrip accepts VISA and MASTER). I went through the synchronization process, and to my amazement was sent a new password to my email address with the message that the SMS OTP would be sent to my mobile number. In other words, it appeared I was back to square one. I sent a letter to care@irctc explaining what had happened, along with another scanned copy of my passport and a request that another SMS OTP be sent to my email address. If I should ever get the new SMS OTP, I will make sure to synchronize IRCTC with cleartrip accounts on cleartrip's site. I have been waiting for the second SMS OTP for three weeks. I have written to care@irctc every two days to remind them. Still, I am waiting, and waiting, and waiting.
Jun 25, 2012 4:18 AM
9Still, I am waiting, and waiting, and waiting.
Welcome to India. And to their national pastime.
Jun 25, 2012 10:53 AM
10Actually, what bahutacchha writes is so true. I know, many of you appreciate the charme of imperfection in india, but I'm also "politically incorrect" in this context. Why make a rather complicated thing like booking a train ticket in India even more complicated? Two years ago it was easy to book train tickets via cleartrip and now it's such a mess. I mean, we are in 21st century. This is a country with more than 1 billion inhabitants and many of them are traveling with trains. It is a shame that an organisation like IRCTC, probably the biggest or second biggest transportation system in the world, is not able to empoy decent web page developers, designing easy processes for register and booking. There should be enough available in a country like India. Cleartrip, a perfect, simple, private alternative to the IRCTC site are forced to participate in this bullshit with registering at IRCTC.
There are so many examples, India doesn't make it to arrive in 21st century service society. Might be a train or ferry ticket office, opening just 10 minutes before the train arrives, even if service stuff is sitting there anyway just to tell the people it is closed... The process of getting an indian sim card as a foreigner... (so easy in sri lanka or se asia). The paperwork to be done for registration in any guesthouse, passport copy etc.
Other example, the visa procedure, outsourcing... More complicated and wait for 3 days instead of getting the visa on the same day afternoon. Seems, India makes more steps backward than progress in matters of welcoming foreign tourists.
I also love the example with malaysia. Totally agree.
There are tons of interesting experiences to make in India but not the bureaucracy and the inability of public facilities.
Edited by: endurado
Jun 25, 2012 12:33 PM
Jun 26, 2012 2:34 AM
12I've put the step by step instructions for registering and buying via www.cleartrip.com on http://www.seat61.com/India.htm
The process involves emailing IRCTC customer services to get the SMS OTP (One Time Password) which won't be sent to non-Indian mobiles, then making sure you use the proper link to the activation page on a 'partner site' in the original 'Successful registration' email from IRCTC to activate.
It DOES work, I've wasted a few pounds/rupees testing it, but you need to read each step carefully and not assume or jump ahead!
Jun 26, 2012 4:42 AM
13Thank you Man_in_Seat_61 (#12):
I've done everything you say. My mistake the first time was not using the proper link to the activation page on the 'partner site', I went directly to IRCTC's site to activate my account. As soon as the account was activated, I changed the password, as IRCTC recommends. That was a big mistake. I'm now waiting for the second SMS OTP to arrive at my email. I sent request and scanned copy to email@example.com nearly three weeks ago. I beginning to wonder if I'll ever get it. If it comes, I'll make sure to activate on the 'successful registration' email from IRCTC.
What I don't understand: Why shouldn't one be able to link an existing IRCTC account to a partner account using one's existing IRCTC user ID and password. Why the need for a new password?
Even though private agencies such as cleartrip.com and makemytrip.com have nothing to do with IRCTC's registration requirement, because they are in the business of selling train tickets online, even to foreigners, it would be in their interest to have clear step-by-step instructions too guide foreigners trying to register sans an Indian mobile number. Being that they are Indian companies, that may be asking too much, though.
If I succeed with this registration and book a ticket online, I'm going to celebrate with a fine bottle of Champagne. But, after reading of the troubles many foreign travelers are having with this arcane registration process, I'm starting to seriously doubt there will be anything to celebrate.
If the Indian government wants more foreign tourists to visit the country, it should make it easier for them to do so, not harder.
Jun 26, 2012 11:38 AM
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