Travelling with your motorcycle in India isn’t a fun or simple process, and chances are your bike will, at minimum, sustain some scratches. Still, it’s a cost-effective way to beat the summer heat when travelling down from a ride in the Himalayas.
In this post, I’ll show you exactly how I took my motorcycle on an 8.5 hour 577km train journey from Jammu to Delhi at a cost of ₹3295.
What documents do you need?
Before you get to the station, you need to get two copies of each of these documents:
- Passport (for foreigners) or Aadhaar Card (for Indians)
- Train ticket (don’t forget you can book via foreign quota!)
- The bike’s vehicle registration certificate (also known as RC)
- Insurance papers for the bike
You need one copy to book your motorcycle on the train, and the second copy is used to get permission to exit the destination station with your motorcycle.
If you’ve rented a bike, the RC and insurance papers will always be given to you to carry with the bike.
Should you send your motorcycle by luggage or parcel?
A few days before your train leaves, visit the parcel office at the railway station and ensure you can carry your motorcycle on the same train as your luggage.
Sometimes the train won’t have a luggage compartment, and you’ll need to send it as a parcel on another train.
Also, ask if you need to book luggage space in advance for your train. I didn’t have to.
How to get your motorcycle on the train
On the day of your trip, you can visit the parcel office between 9am – 5pm and book your motorcycle as luggage on the train.
Booking your bike as luggage means it’ll travel on the same train as you.
The parcel office will first give you a “Forwarding Note for Animals / Or General Merchandise Other than Dangerous Goods” form. Take this, and now go get your motorcycle packed for transport.
How to package your motorcycle for train travel
Around the parcel office, you’ll find many people who will package your bike for you. They’ll use multiple layers of bubble wrap, cardboard, and sackcloth to strengthen your motorcycle. They’ll also remove mirrors, windscreen, and hand guards.
Before packing, they’ll also drain the petrol from your tank. You can either sell that petrol to them to resell to the guys arriving with empty tanks or give it to them for free. They resell the petrol at a 50% markup over the pumps.
You can’t carry petrol on the train! They’ll be someone at your arrival station selling petrol or a nearby petrol pump.
Packing cost me ₹700. ₹100 extra because I had panniers. Otherwise, the fee is usually ₹600.
Back at the parcel office
Once packaging is done, the packaging guy will take you to fill in the “Forwarding Note for Animals / Or General Merchandise Other than Dangerous Goods” form.
That form requires details such as how much the bike is worth (on your insurance paper), your next hotel address, and your motorcycle model.
Then you take that form and photocopied documents inside the parcel office, and they’ll process them, and you’ll pay a luggage fee. It cost me ₹2095 for my Himalayan.
Then the parcel office will print off a shipping label which will be attached to your fuel tank, and, as backup, the essential details of that sticker will be written around your bike too.
The parcel office will also issue you a Parcel Way Bill / Luggage Ticket. Keep this and use it to retrieve your motorcycle at your destination. Then find some petrol!
Was my motorcycle damaged during the train journey?
At a minimum, you can expect scratches because they place it in the luggage car on its side stand for the entire journey!
My motorcycle fell over, and the brake lever was bent. There were various scratches around the bike.
The other issue was there wasn’t enough room in my train’s luggage car. So they put my motorcycle on the next train to Delhi without telling me!
Luckily my friend asked the Packers why they weren’t loading my bike and got the number of the train my bike was going on! My bike arrived 1 hour after I did.
What happens at the arrival station?
Once you arrive, your motorcycle will be unpacked and left on the train platform. There will be a parcel office nearby. Each platform seemed to have its own tiny parcel office at the New Delhi train station. Go there and show your Parcel Way Bill / Luggage Ticket.
Then you’ll be directed to the Parcel Delivery Office to get a “Gate Pass / Money Receipt.”
The Parcel Delivery Office will then issue you a Gate Pass so you can take your motorcycle out of the station. You do this by giving your photocopied documents and Parcel Way Bill to a man at a counter.
To smoothen this process, you can hire a porter for ₹300. Or a tout for ₹600. They’ll approach you on the platform when you are waiting for your bike outside the luggage car. They’ll help you get the exit pass and push your bike from the platform to the petrol station.
The porters and touts only speak Hindi. So it may be a little tricky. But they’ve all helped bikers before. Just check the price upfront, and don’t let them try to change the price with lines like, “Sir, your bike is large! You didn’t tell me. That’s ₹100 extra.”
Would I transport my bike by train in India again?
I would. But the entire process is nerve-wracking, knowing your bike will sustain some damage. Along with all the fees for packing, luggage, and porting (about ₹3295 total), I now have to replace the brake lever – and I can’t do much about the scratches on my newish bike.
Are you going to take your motorcycle by train? Let me know in the comments.
If this post helped you, please leave a comment.