In the world’s largest train country, you must, of course, get by train. The train is not fast but offers travel experiences beyond the usual.
Facts about Indian Railways are always impressive: more than 6,300 miles of rail, leading to 6,856 stations, 14 million passengers a day and about one million employees, making it the world’s largest train network.
Choose from different classes, from first-class air conditioning to unfinished carriages with wooden benches.
There are two trains going faster than the others:
one called Shatabdi Express is a day train (departure and arrival the same day) and runs between India’s largest cities.
At Shatabdi Express there are only two classes: AC Executive and AC Chair Car. Both classes include breakfast, lunch, possibly dinner, tea and coffee and mineral water.
The other is called Rajdhani Express and runs between New Delhi and all state capitals. Rajdhani Express has four classes: First Class, AC 3 tier, AC 2 tier and Sleeper Class.
Food by train
The food is instead prepared in the kitchen of the train or at a station along the line. The railway restaurants staff go round and take orders for breakfast, lunch and dinner and later share it directly to the seat where you sit.
A meal costs 20-30 INR. At most railway stations there are private vendors who come with one or two stations and sell coffee, tea, peanuts, fruit, soda etc. In other words, taking a pack of food is superfluous.
Sleeper Class and AC 2 tier and AC 3 tier are perfect for long night trips across the Indian subcontinent. But I refuse to travel in the unreserved carriages other than for very short trips.
The price of a train ticket complies strictly with the distance principle. Indian Railways do not have different price levels for pre-sale, weekend tickets, last minute etc. Indian train tickets can be cancelled up to twelve hours after departure.
Classes on the Indian train
First Class AC: First Class, four-compartment, air conditioning.
First Class: First Class, four-passenger compartment without air conditioning (on the way).
AC 3-tier Sleeper: Sleeping breezes in open wagon, three breezes in height, air conditioning.
AC 2-tier Sleeper: Sleeping bag in open wagon, two bunks in height, air conditioning, own reading lamp.
AC Chair Car: Day Trips, Air Conditioning.
Sleeper Class: Second class trolley in open wagons.
Second Sitting: Second Class for Day Trips.
Unreserved: In practice, third grade, usually wooden benches, crowded.
Cushion, blanket and bed sheets are included in the first class and AC classes. In the first class, you travel in a four-poster cabin with lockable door, in the AC 2 tier, there are drapes to draw for the British to make it feel more private. In the AC 3 tier and in the Sleeper Class there are no drapes. In Sleeper Class, you will also need to bring your own bed sheet or your own sleeping bag to bed.
Book a ticket
When planning and booking train journeys in India, keep in mind that trains – all train lines have specific names – whose name ends with Passengers are slow and trains whose names end with Mail and Express are faster.
Slow trains can have an average speed of 50 kilometres per hour. No trains are as fast as highways in Europe. The fastest Indian fasteners are barely reaching speeds that are reminiscent of our slow Intercity trains, that is, about 100 kilometres per hour.
For an overview of Indian trains, the timetables Trains at a Glance, sold in bookstores and well-stocked newspaper vendors and on the Indian Railways website http://www.indianrail.gov.in
Should you travel by train in India over Diwali (October-November) or during Christmas and New Year you should book in very good time. The trains from Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore to Goa and Kerala are some of the most fully booked.
The Indian Railway’s own website has online booking but has created problems for those booking with international credit cards. In addition, it is difficult to use out-of-doors because you must enter the correct station name to find the right train. Only in Bombay, there are at least five train stations for remote trains and only one of them has Bombay / Mumbai in the station name. Knight in other words.
Now there is a good alternative, super-slim Indian reservation site Cleartrip, http://www.cleartrip.com. There you can search for different cities and the search engine finds the right station for you.
It is good to book at any station in India. Cash payment applies everywhere, except at the stations in the largest cities, where there is usually a single gap that you can pay by credit card. After booking a train you can check status of train by using must have Apps for Train Travelers in India
At the airports of New Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, the Indian Railways has a travel agency for tourists. Bookkeeping for tourists is also available at the stations in Ahmedabad, Agra, Aurangabad, Bangalore, Mumbai, Kolkata, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Chennai, New Delhi, Rameshwaram, Secunderabad (Hyderabad), Varanasi, Vadodara and Vasco da Gama (Goa).
If you book one of these tourist booking offices, you will automatically receive a ticket from the tourist quota. This means that you can get seats on trains that are otherwise fully booked.
Luxury and special trains
There are charter coaches for tourists with beautifully renovated old cabins, restaurant and bar aboard, which runs certain designated routes for tourists.
Palace on Wheels: India’s most famous lanterns drive around Rajasthan and also stay in Agra to visit Taj Mahal. The trip takes eight days. Route: Delhi-Jaipur-Chittaurgarh-Udaipur-Swaimadhopur-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Bharatpur-Agra-New Delhi. More information at http://www.palaceonwheels.net .
The Royal Orient: Make a trip through Rajasthan and Gujarat in eight days. Route: New Delhi-Chittaurgarh-Udaipur-Junagadh-Veraval-Sasan Gir-Dilwara-Palitana-Sahrkej-Ahmedabad-Jaipur-New Delhi.
Maharaja Express: latest and most luxurious addition. Make different routes in India. Sjustjärnigt, you state yourself. Expensive.
Himalayan Queen from Kalka to British Old Summer Capital Shimla in the Himalayas.
Deccan Oddysey goes Mumbai-Ratnagiri-Sindhu Durg-Goa-Pune-Aurangabad-Nasik-Mumbai.
Fairy Queen goes Delhi-Alwar Delhi.
New Jalpaiguri-Darjeeling goes from the plains of the North West Bengal up the mountains to the Darjeeling district.