Travel by Train
It is a different story travelling by train.
In fact, no Indian travel is complete without experiencing the hustle and bustle of the Indian railway station and the comfort of a safe travel experience with an express train. Unforgettable is the cry of the tea seller, who with his “Chai-Garam Chai-Chai” brings about a delicious cup of tea to the traveller.
Forget immediately the familiar picture of passenger, bursting on all sides of the trains. There is really no better or easier way to explore India then by train.
The Indian railway system spans 61,000 km and 7,000 stations, the largest in Asia. For this whole network, the Indian Railways is responsible.
How everything works is not immediately clear to the foreign visitor. First, the system has different classes and not every class is provided in each train.
The most common classes are:
1A The First Class AC (first class with air conditioning) These compartments with air conditioning is only available on the popular, long journeys.
Note: There is a huge quality variation between trains and routes.
2A AC-Two tier Air-conditioned cabins, plenty of legroom, curtains, personal reading lamps. Bed linen is included in the price. Perfect for night travel. (2 bunk beds, 4 per section)
3A AC-Tree tier (The same of 2A, but with 3 beds on top of each other.)
CC AC Chair CarA car with air conditioning and a total of five seats in a row. Usually, comfortable and clean. Used for day trips between cities.
There is also a more luxurious (Executive) version with four chairs in a row.
2S Seater class The same as CC, but without air conditioning.
SL Sleeper Class This sleeper is the most common and usually there are about ten wagons on each train. During the day the seats folded down and in the evening 2 or 3 bed are created above one other. Beds are also in the aisles. There are no curtains and no bedding.
The car also has no AC, but fans.
If you want to meet the Indian middle class, this is the best class to travel.
G General The cheapest class, with seats made of pressed wood. A seat cannot be guaranteed and train tickets are usually released two hours before the published departure time. These carriages are usually very busy.
At the end of the train, there is a special compartment for the conductor. A luggage compartment is also added to the front or back. Some trains have mail compartments included. On long train journeys, a stock car is usually located in the middle of the train.
At the station, there are guarded “luggage rooms” (Do not lose your receipt!) and waiting areas. The waiting rooms have AC and refreshments are available. The small fee is worth it!
A site with links: www.indiamike.com
Reservation of tickets:
You cannot just buy a ticket for a train. You must reserve your seat via a rather complicated reservation system. Preferably, you should do this at least one day in advance. During the busy peridos (e.g. November, festivals and hokidays), this should be done weeks in advance.
For longer journeys, this can now be done online through the site of the Indian Railways. (https://www.irctc.co.in/eticketing )
There are other sites that offer online booking, but eventually, they lead you to the above website.
However, for non-Indian travellers, it still remains a difficult and time-consuming process. Hence G.S. I offers reservations by our local staff.
However, you can self-plan your journal through the aforementioned website.