Raghav was in the middle of work when he got a call from his elderly parents. They needed him to come home immediately to address an important family matter. They live in a different city, and Raghav decides to take a train. It’s only after he books the tickets that it hit him – what will he do with his new cocker spaniel, Cookie?
Raghav can’t get a pet sitter at such short notice, and he doesn’t like the idea of leaving Cookie at a boarding kennel. “Can I travel with my dog on the train?” he wonders.
The short answer is ‘yes!’. You can travel with your pet dog, cat, rabbit, and a few other specific animals on the Indian railway. Here, we list out the rules and regulations as well as important steps you need to keep in mind.
Traveling coach restrictions
Pets have a couple of options when traveling by train. Book a ticket for AC or non-AC first class for a coupe or a cabin. A coupe has only two seats while a cabin has four. AC chair, sleeper, and second class compartments are off-limits for pets. We suggest choosing the coupe as it’s less crowded and easier for pets to adjust to.
Booking a ‘seat’
No, you can’t just book a ticket for your pet. You need to book them in at the parcel office at the railway station. Consider the comfort levels of other passengers and book a cabin or coupe to yourself. Collect the booking slips and pay for your pets on the day of travel.
In fact, it might be a better option for everyone. According to the rules, you’ll need to move your pet to a dog or cat carrier should there be any objection from other passengers. This is not the most comfortable option for your pet, and we suggest avoiding it as much as possible.
Documents to carry
You’ll need to prove that your pet is healthy and fine to travel with you. Get a health certificate, vaccination records, and other necessary documents to show your pet is good to go on the journey.
The other option is to put your pet into the carrier or dog-box anyway and assign them to the luggage compartment or the brake van. Although this is an option, it’s not advisable. Pets get antsy when they are left alone with strangers in an unfamiliar environment, and their discomfort will manifest in many ways. We highly recommend never leaving your pet alone on a journey.
Getting all the confirmations
It’s better to get a confirmation in writing on your tickets from the railway officials. Submit a letter along with a copy of your tickets to the Chief Reservation Officer with a special request to allot a coupe or cabin. The letter needs to be physically submitted to the officer.
Things to keep in mind before and after the journey
Put together a travel kit for your pet, just as you would take a bag for yourself. Make a list of all the essential items they would need. Food, water, medicines, treats, small toys, blankets, etc. Don’t forget their bowls, collars, and other accessories too.
Training your pet for a train
Familiarising and socialising your pet with strangers in advance will ensure a smooth and safe journey. Before setting off on the actual trip it’s wise to do some trial runs. Train your pet beforehand on making the jump on and off the train. Take a short train ride, if possible, of a few minutes or an hour. Let your pet experience train rides, bustling places, and crowds before your actual journey.
Arrival and departure
Bring your pet to the station of departure at least a couple of times to get them used to the place. On the day of departure, arrive well ahead in time and find a relatively quiet spot to wait. It’s important for your pet to get into the swing of things so to speak. Similarly, on arrival at your destination, be mindful that your pet may not be as excited as you are. It’s a completely new place, and they may have some anxiety. Talk to them and pay close attention for some time until you’re sure they’re ok.
Length of the journey
Long train journeys are tiring for us, no matter how comfortable the compartment. For pets, it can be worse. Ensure they get plenty of movement by taking them to the last carriage where the doors are. Let them walk around. Try to get them onto the platform on long stops for toilet breaks.
There’s a lot of thought that goes into embarking on a train journey with your pet. Weigh the factors thoroughly before you decide what works for you. We hope we’ve covered everything you need to know to make that decision. Raghav, unfortunately, cannot, but you can still have a wonderful and memorable journey with your pet!