The Foreign Tourist Quota (FTQ)
The Foreign Tourist Quota is a small set of seats on certain trains kept aside for foreigners (and NRIs) travelling in India on a tourist visa. Seeing that the bulk of foreign tourists visiting India have no idea how early train tickets can sell out, this quota can be a godsend. It is however rather bureaucratic to get a ticket under this quota, and unless you get it right, you're likely to waste a lot of time at a railway reservation office, to come back empty-handed. It is also worth reading this thread - and its relevant updates - about the Foreign Tourist Quota on the Indiamike forum.
Let me summarise the main points of this quota:
- Foreign tourists don't have to buy tickets under this quota - they can book through the general, tatkal and ladies quotas (if they're ladies!) as well. However, most of the regular quotas tend to get booked out very early (even two months in advance on some popular routes!) and hence the Foreign Tourist Quota (FTQ) can often allow a tourist to get seats on trains at relatively short notice.
- There is no extra charge for tickets issued under this quota. You pay the same amount an Indian would pay for the journey.
- Not all trains have a Foreign Tourist Quota.
- Trains that do have an FTQ allocation do not necessarily have it in all classes. The majority of trains have just 2 berths in Sleeper Class under the FTQ. Around 325 trains in India have an FTQ allocation in the AC classes (see list). To find out whether your train has an FTQ allocation (as several details have changed since I last updated this list, or if you're searching for FTQ availability in a non-AC class) you need to check the availability for your train using one of the following websites: Indianrail, Erail or India Rail Info. When querying availability, make sure the "quota" box is set to Foreign Tourist. See this article for more details on how to check availability.
- FTQ cannot be booked online.
- FTQ cannot be booked at just any station or reservation office either. Only certain important stations, tourist bureaux and reservation offices have the authority to sell tickets under the FTQ. The list is mentioned at the end of the page.
- You can pay for FTQ tickets in dollars. If you pay in rupees, you might need to show proof that you've exchanged foreign currency - an exchange certificate or ATM receipt should do. Not too many counters insist on this though.
- You need to carry the passports of all travellers in original to the reservation counter along with photocopies of the visa and address pages.
- Indrail passholders are entitled to tickets under the FTQ.
Like normal tickets, bookings for FTQ tickets open 60 days before the train leaves its originating station. However, due to the slightly complicated process of getting these tickets, especially since they can't be booked online, it is often far easier to get tickets under the FTQ at relatively short notice.
How do you buy tickets under the FTQ? You follow the same process that you would follow to book a ticket at a reservation counter, except that you need to carry your passport, photocopies of the relevant pages of your passport, and an ATM receipt (see the summary points above). You need to fill in a reservation form and hand it to the clerk, specifying that you want tickets under the FTQ. An FTQ ticket looks no different from a regular counter-bought PRS ticket.
As mentioned earlier, you cannot book tickets at just any reservation office. Below is the list of counters from which you can get FTQ tickets. A lot of this information needs verification and updating, so please contact me if you've been to any of these reservation offices and managed to successfully book tickets.
It might also be possible to get tickets under the FTQ at other stations as well. If in doubt, talk to the Chief Reservation Supervisor at the reservation office to see if he can do anything for you.
Places on the list below marked "verified" have been visited by me. Other places have not, so your inputs will be extremely valuable...
Rail Reservation Office, Agra Cantonment. If you've visited, please do tell me which counter sells FTQ tickets.
Rail Reservation Office, Ahmedabad Junction. If you've visited, please do tell me which counter sells FTQ tickets.
You can buy FTQ tickets only at Bangalore City Railway Station. The correct counter is counter number 2 in the main station building, not in the normal railway reservation office. The counter is helpfully marked "Senior Citizens and Disabled Only"
View Foreign Tourist Counter, Bangalore City in a larger map
Chennai boasts a special office for foreign tourist bookings. This is a small room inside the railway reservation office at Chennai Central. Note that the office is not in the main station building - it is in the tall building to the left of the station (see map). There is a small staircase to the extreme right of this building, and you will find the foreign tourist cell on the first floor. If in doubt, ask anybody for the reservation office.
View Foreign Tourist Office, Chennai in a larger map
Foreign Tourist Quota tickets are issued at the counter for special reservations. This counter is located in the yellow building just opposite the railway station. (Information courtesy Raden J)
View FTQ Counter, Dehradun in a larger map
New Delhi Railway station has an International Tourist Bureau in which you can book tickets. The International Tourist Bureau is located on the first floor of the building on the Paharganj side - that is, to the platform 1 side entrance. Be very careful as many scams operate around the area. Touts will tell you that the office is closed, is being renovated, or has suddenly vaporised, and invite you to their "booking office". You will inevitably be overcharged or - in the worst-case scenario - be given fake tickets. Check this thread out on Indiamike for more information on the International Tourist Bureau at New Delhi.
Some very helpful information on getting FTQ tickets at Ernakulam South Railway station from Neil, along with a picture of the reservation office:
"Firstly, it's a bit tricky to find the Reservation Office. If you come out of the regular ticket office (local tickets only), you need to go across the car park diagonally right to a 3 storey orange building with a 'Reservation Office' sign outside. Inside, you can go to any counter to enquire about FTQ availability on trains you are interested in. When you know what tickets you want, get a reservation form from the the end (right) of the counter. Fill in the details then go back to any counter to buy your ticket, which will be sold to you as wait listed. You then take it with your passport to the Reservation Superviser's office in the far right hand side of the room, where the Superviser will bump you up to confirmed from the FTQ quota. I paid in rupees and did not need to show ATM receipts."
View Foreign Tourist Counter, Ernakulam in a larger map
There are two different stations in Goa where you can book tickets under the FTQ, and it depends on where you're travelling.
If you want to book FTQ tickets on trains travelling on the Konkan Railway, you need to go to counter 5 at the rail reservation office at Madgaon Railway station. The reservation office is located on the first floor of the station when you enter platform 1.
View Foreign Tourist Counter, Madgaon in a larger map
If you want to book FTQ tickets for routes other than the Konkan Railway in Goa, you need to go to Vasco Railway station. The reservation office has only three counters, and the clerks might tell you that you cannot book FTQ tickets there. If this happens, contact the Chief Reservation Supervisor.
View Foreign Tourist Counter, Vasco in a larger map
Counter 121 at the Hyderabad reservation office.
Helpful feedback from Daniel about getting FTQ tickets at Jaipur:
"About the counter foreigner tickets in jaipur india, it's outside the train station building, it's in the directions office building with an entrance next to the train station gate. Inside, it's the counter 769 for foreigners, but you have to fill a form that you have to ask for at counter 763. and don't go at counter 10 anymore, it's at the other side of the train station and it's useless"
Rail Reservation Office, Jaisalmer. If you've visited, please do tell me which counter sells FTQ tickets.
FTQ tickets are issued from counter #3 of the reservation office at Jodhpur railway station. (Thanks for the info, Colin!)
View Foreign Tourist Counter, Jodhpur in a larger map
In Kolkata, you do not get FTQ tickets at the railway station - you need to go to the reservation office at Fairlie Place. (Credits - Dave W from Indiamike)
View Foreign Tourist Counter, Kolkata in a larger map
Rail Reservation Office, Charbagh Station, Lucknow.
Some helpful comments from Robyn who successfully managed tickets at Lucknow:
"In Lucknow, FTQ tickets are issued by the very last counter to the left. You are given a WL ticket to start with which you then take to the superintendent who again issues a different WL ticket, and then at 6pm with the final sheets are announced, wella! You have a seat. It was really easy and no queue at all!"
You can book FTQ tickets either at Mumbai CST (Victoria Terminus) or at Churchgate.
If you're at Mumbai CST, you need to go to the reservation office, which is situated on the first floor of the building. I'm not sure which counter is for foreign tourists - enquire at the enquiry counter on the ground floor of the reservation office.
If you're at Churchgate, you can book tickets at the reservation office which is opposite the station building - counter 14 is the counter for foreign tourists. I recommend visiting Churchgate's reservation office as it is far less crowded than the one at Mumbai CST.
View Foreign Tourist Counter, Mumbai Churchgate in a larger map
Counter 34 at the reservation office.
View Foreign Tourist Counter, Secunderabad in a larger map
Rail Reservation Office, Trivandrum. Some helpful information from Joris about booking FTQ tickets at this station:
"For Trivandrum tourist counter go to first floor of main train building (right hand side). Tourist quota is on Counter no 8 (there is no special sign), not very helpful person, the supervisor is very helpful!"
Counter #6, Rail Reservation Office, Udaipur City Railway Station.
FTQ tickets can be bought at the International Tourist Bureau in Varanasi. The bureau is located inside the main station building - ask around for directions.
Last updated on 12 December 2014.