If you are wondering how to cancel a train ticket in India, continue to read. There are several ways and means to cancel a train ticket in this country. Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of these different ways.
Gone are those days when you had to wait at long queues to cancel or reserve a train ticket. Nor do you have to pay touts and agents that operate illegally and offer such services for a stiff fee.
Thanks to rapid modernization and adoption of latest technologies, Indian Railways now offers excellent services for cancelling train tickets.
Indian Railways has different names for its tickets. Before we discuss how to cancel train tickets, let us learn something about these.
Types of Train Tickets
Broadly, Indian Railways uses three different names to identify its train tickets. Here I will clear the confusion between the various types.
- Ticket: This means the regular paper ticket issued by Indian Railways from its booking offices.
- i-Ticket: An i-Ticket is nothing but a regular paper train ticket. When you book online but want a paper ticket, Indian Railways delivers it by courier. This is called as i-Ticket.
- e-Ticket: Means electronic ticket. An e-Ticket is not a paper ticket. You need not carry any regular paper ticket while travelling. Instead, you simply provide proof of identity and age such as Aadhar card, PAN card or others issued by the Central or state governments.
There are lots of such terms, jargon and abbreviations that Indian Railways uses on train tickets. I will continue explaining these throughout the article.
How to Cancel Train Tickets – Different Ways to Cancel Rail Tickets
Here I list eight different ways to cancel train tickets in India.
1. Call Your Travel Agent
This is the simplest and fastest way to cancel a train ticket. If your train ticket was booked by a travel agency, simply call them up and ask for cancellation. Understandably, the travel agency may charge a convenience or service fee.
Yet, paying this fee to the travel agency will save you lots of time, effort and money. The travel agent might not charge convenience or service fee if you are their regular customer and frequent traveller.
Your refund will be given by the travel agent, in such cases.
- Flipside: Travel agents observe weekly holidays and are not available round the clock. Therefore, you cannot cancel a train ticket on weekends or odd hours of the day, when your travel agency is closed.
2. Use a Telephone
You can cancel a train ticket by simply calling Indian Railways on their helpline number 139. An Interactive Voice Recording (IVR) system will guide you through the train ticket cancellation process.
Simply follow what the IVR says.
Use any telephone- landline or mobile- to call 139 and cancel your ticket. The system works for both.
Use the same mobile number you gave while booking the ticket. This will save you some effort.
The One Time Password (OTP) for cancellation will be sent only to the mobile number given at the time of making reservations.
If you use a landline or mobile phone with another number, the Indian Railways cancellation system will send you a One Time Password or OTP only to the number given during reservations.
Telephonic cancellation system works for paper tickets, i-tickets and e-tickets.
The OTP is necessary in any case. Without the OTP, you cannot get refunds for cancelling a train ticket.
- Flipside-1: This system works well only with smartphones and if you are calling 139 from the same mobile number that reflects on the reservations. If you own a smartphone, download and use the official IRCTC app instead, as I will explain later.
- Flipside-2: Refunds can take several weeks if you hold i-ticket or e-ticket. For tickets bought with a credit card, debit card or net banking, money will go directly into your account.
- Flipside-3: Cash refunds will be given only for paper tickets. To get your money, take the paper ticket, OTP and proof of identity to the nearest railway booking counter and complete formalities. This is a time-consuming process.
3. SMS to Cancel Train Tickets
Just in case you are unaware, you can cancel tickets by simply sending an SMS text message to Indian Railways helpline number 139.
This process is far too simple. It can be done through any mobile phone. Send your Passenger Name Record or the PNR number to 139 by SMS.
In return, you will get a One Time Password. Carry this OTP to the nearest railway booking counter to get a refund.
- Flipside: Cancelling tickets by SMS is available only four hours before the train departure. Cash refund is available only on ordinary paper tickets. Also, you need to visit the nearest railway booking counter to complete ticket cancellation formalities.
4. Cancel at Railway Counter
Cancelling train tickets at railway counters is an age old practice. If you have bought tickets from a booking counter outside your city or anywhere else, you can still cancel them without problems.
The process is very simple. Fill up the Reservation/ Cancellation form by giving name, age and other details of every passenger traveling on the ticket.
Tick mark ‘Cancellation’ on this form. Submit this form to the clerk.
You will need proof of identity to cancel a ticket at railway counters. Also, you have to be among the passengers who would travel on this train ticket.
You can send someone to cancel a paper train ticket too. However, Indian Railways might verify credentials of your representative by calling the landline or mobile number that reflects on your reservation.
Upon verifying all details, the clerk will issue refund on the spot, if you have paid in cash. Should you have paid using credit card, debit card or net banking, the money will go directly to your bank account.
Keep the cancellation receipt safe for future reference and for following up on refund to your bank.
- Flipside-1: Cancelling train ticket at railway counters is a very time consuming process. Other than filling the mandatory form, you will have to wait in long queues for your turn at the counter.
- Flipside-2: Only paper tickets get immediate cash refunds. For i-tickets and e-tickets, the money will be sent to your bank or credit card account. This is done to prevent unauthorized cancellation of train tickets.
- Flipside-3: Unless you are among the passengers who would travel on the ticket, cancelling can become very lengthy. The clerk may ask your credentials and verify it with the person who booked the ticket. This is also done to prevent unauthorized cancellations.
5. Use IRCTC App
The IRCTC app available free from Google Play and App Store is the best way to cancel any train ticket.
It is fast to download and easy to use. To use this app, you have to register as user with IRCTC either through the app or their website.
Registration is very easy: Provide your email ID, mobile phone number and create a password.
Once you are registered as user, click on the ‘Cancel’ link on the app. Fill in details such as Passenger Name Record (PNR) number and submit.
You get an OTP. Submit the OTP and you will get an SMS and email confirming cancellation.
The IRCTC app allows you to cancel train tickets from just about anywhere.
- Flipside-1: You need a smartphone with high-speed Internet access to use this app. If you live in an area where high-speed Internet is unavailable, the process can fail. It takes long time to get your cancellation through, if there is heavy traffic on the app.
- Flipside-2: If you hold a paper ticket, it is necessary to visit the nearest booking office, complete cancellation formalities and get the refund. For i-tickets and e-tickets, the refund goes direct to bank or credit card account.
Use the IRCTC website to cancel train tickets. It is fast and easy.
- Login to your account.
- Access ‘Journeys’ under your account.
- Select the PNR number you want to cancel.
- Click ‘Cancel’.
- You will get an OTP on the mobile number you registered while signing up as user of IRCTC website.
- Key in the OTP to and click ‘Confirm’ to cancel your train ticket.
Refund for the cancelled tickets will be sent to your credit card account or bank account.
- Flipside-1: This system works for i-tickets and e-tickets only. You cannot cancel a paper ticket using the IRCTC website.
- Flipside-2: The IRCTC website is sometimes slow to respond and the process takes time.
7. Railway Booking Agent
Since 2015, Indian Railways is giving ticketing franchise to private individuals that can provide train reservation and cancellation services. This system aims at making Indian Railways online services accessible to all persons easily.
Generally railway booking agents are located in areas that are far from a railway station and booking office or witness heavy demand for tickets.
You can approach any IRCTC authorized railway booking agent to cancel train ticket. They will do so online through the agent’s portal.
- Flipside: Generally, railway booking agents charge a fee for the service. Also, there are very few railway booking agents and hence, finding one can prove difficult.
8. Transferring Your Ticket
Since 2023, Indian Railways allows you to cancel your train ticket by transferring it to a close relative.
Transferring train tickets comes with several restrictions: you cannot allot your confirmed seat to any stranger or friend. Only certain close relatives qualify for transfer of tickets.
There are various other categories where transferring tickets is allowed by Indian Railways. They include groups attending weddings, events, members of Indian Armed Forces, Central and state government employees, students and the National Cadet Corps.
Rules & Regulations to Cancel Train Tickets
Indian Railways applies various rules and regulations for train ticket cancellations and their refunds. Therefore, I will guide you on these rules and how much money you can get back from a ticket cancellation.
Timings & Fees for Train Ticket Cancellation
Indian Railways applies two charges for cancelling your ticket. One is the cancellation fee and another is a processing fee.
Train tickets have to be cancelled before Indian Railways prepare the passenger manifest, also known as ‘Chart.’ This ‘chart’ is usually prepared four to 12 hours before departure of a train.
Hence, all cancellations and refunds depend upon the time of chart preparation.
The schedule of these fees is as follows:
- Between four and 12 hours before departure: 50 percent of the ticket cost.
- Between 12 and 48 hours: 25 percent of the fare.
Over 48 hours: A flat cancellation fee is charged by Indian Railways
If you are holding a confirmed ticket and cancel before 48 hours, the following rules apply:
- Tatkal (Emergency/ Urgent): No refunds allowed. You lose all the money.
- Air conditioned (AC) First and Executive Class: Rs.240 onwards
- AC two tier and First Class: Rs.200 onwards
AC three tier, AC three Economy and AC Chair Car: Rs.180 onwards
- Second Class (Two & Three Tier) Sleeper: Rs.120 onwards
- Second Class (Two & Three Tier) Sleeper: Rs.60 onwards. This includes unreserved category including Reservation Against Cancellation (RAC) and Wait List(WL)
- Second Class General (without reservation) Rs.30 onwards.
Cancellation Rules for Foreign Tourists/ NRIs
Foreign nationals including Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) and Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) can book tickets a year in advance.
Indian Railways has a special quota for foreign tourists, OCIs and NRIs. Hence, they are allotted confirmed seats instantly.
To book and cancel tickets under the foreigner/ NRI quota, a passport is necessary.
Foreign tourists and NRIs are charged flat 50 percent of the fare amount as cancellation fee. Seats under foreigner and NRI quota are not allotted to other passengers before scheduled departure time of a train.
Cancellation of Premium Train Tickets
Indian Railways classifies ‘Gatiman’, ‘Hamsafar’ and ‘Suvidha’ high-speed trains as ‘Premium’.
You can cancel a ticket on this train. However, there are no refunds. Meaning, you lose the money.
However, cancellation allows some deserving passenger to get a confirmed seat. Or, your seat is given to a waitlisted passenger.
Cancellation Rules for Luxury/ Tourist Trains
As part of efforts to promote tourism, Indian Railways operates luxury and themed tourist trains including Deccan Odyssey, Maharaja’s Express, Royal Rajasthan on Wheels and others.
Tickets on these luxury trains are in high demand during the times they operate. Hence, reservations have to be made well in advance.
However, you can also cancel tickets on a luxury train.
- Cancellations made 60 days before departure: 25 percent of fare and processing fees are charged.
- Cancellations between 59 and 45 days before departure: 50 percent of fare and processing fees are charged.
You cannot cancel journeys on luxury trains after 45 days before departure. However, it is possible to transfer the ticket to the nearest relatives.
Should I Cancel Train Ticket?
This is a great question. Yes, cancelling your train ticket allows someone else to get a confirmation and travel.
This unknown person could be travelling for some emergency and hence, you lend a helping hand indirectly.
Understandably, there are several categories of travel where tickets are available at a very low rate.
In such a case, the money you lose by cancelling a train ticket will be very negligible.
Yet it makes sense to cancel the ticket in the easiest way possible and provide your seat to someone.
Now that you know how to cancel train tickets in India, utilize a way that best suits your needs. Understandably, cancelling a journey can often be disappointing.
Never hand over your ticket for cancellation to any touts or unauthorized agents. These touts will offer you more money for a ticket than Indian Railways.
Because, they will sell it to someone in distress that wants to travel urgently.
You can land in extreme trouble with the law and face criminal charges if an impostor uses your ticket to travel.