Indian passenger train commemorates 160 years

indian-rail

The experiment yielded fruitful results, a 5.6 km rail line was laid between Red Hills and St. Thomas Mount. On 22 december 1851, the first train chugged on its way to Roorkee.The success of the train paved the way for the passenger train.

16 April, 1853 the first passenger train covered the historic distance between Bori Bunder in Mumbai and Thane. The experimental distance was 34 kms with the aid of three locomotives Sahib, Sindh, and Sultan.

The 21 minute journey set off a milestone with the passenger train commemorating 160 years of seamless travel. The historic ride was enjoyed by 400  invited passengers in 14 carriages.

The train which began at 3:30 pm was flagged off by Lord John Elphinstone who was the governor.The Indian Railway Association was begun by Sir Jansetjee Jeejeebhoy and Jaganath Shunkerseth in 1845.

India stands 4th as the largest railway network in the world

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History of Indian Railways from 1853 to Present

History of indian railways: take a look at the history of indian railways from industrial railways, passenger railways, its story of electrification/ modernisation, and so on..

Shikha Goyal

History of Indian Railways: Indian Railways is the fourth-largest network in the world, spanning over 1.2 Lakh Km across the country. Mainly, three kinds of services are provided by the Indian Railway to the public including Express trains, Mail Express, and Passenger Trains. If we talk about the fare, then Passenger trains fare are the lowest and Mail Express trains are the highest. On the other hand, Express trains fare lie in the middle. 

In 1832 , the idea of setting up a railway system in British India was first proposed. At that time, rail travel was still in its infancy in Britain, but the East India Company knew the benefits of developing an extensive rail network. After a long decade of inaction, private entrepreneurs were allowed to establish a rail system by Lord Hardinge, the Governor-General of India in 1844 . Two companies were formed by the year 1845 namely "East Indian railway Company" and the "Great Indian Peninsula Railway". 

On 16 April 1853 , the first train in India was to run between Bori Bunder, Bombay (now Mumbai), and Thane at a distance of around 34 km. The network to about 14,500 Km was developed in 1880 around the three major port cities of Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta. In 1901 , Railway Board was formed under the guidance of the Department of Commerce and Industry. But still, the powers were vested in the Viceroy. Take a look at the chronology of Railways in India.

History of Indian Railways

Industrial railways (1832 -1852), introduction of passenger railways and expansion (1853-1924), read| what does the yellow and white line indicates in the train coaches, electrification and expansion (1925 - 1950), read| do you know about world's first solar powered train, re-organisation of zones and developments (1951-1983), rapid transit and later developments (1984 to present), know about the guarantee system and guaranteed railways.

When the first proposal for railways was being debated in the 1840s in Great Britain then there was intense lobbying in support of these proposals mainly by banks, traders, shipping companies, etc. Actually, they wanted that railways should be established in India and so had a strong interest. They prevailed British Parliament to create the Guarantee System. So, any company that constructed railways in India was guaranteed some rate of interest on its capital investment. East Company honoured this guarantee and then controlled large parts of India. Therefore, the railways that were built with such agreements governing them were known as guaranteed railways. Typically, the guarantee was for a return of 5% annually. The right was also there for the railway company to pull out of the venture and get compensation from the government at any time.

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  • When did the first train in India run from Bombay (now Mumbai) to Thane? + On 16 April 1853, the first train in India leaves Bombay (now Mumbai) for Thane. It was dedicated by Lord Dalhousie. The train consists of 14 carriages and was pulled by three steam locomotive engines namely Sahib, Sindh, and Sultan. It travelled around 34 km and carried about 400 people.
  • When did the first railway budget was presented in India? + In 1925, the first Railway budget was presented in India.
  • When did Indian Railways reorganise into regional zones? + In 1952, the Indian Railway was reorganised into regional zones. And on 14th April 1952, the Southern Railway Zone was established.
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The 1846 plan for India's first Railway line

By Kalakriti Archives

Dr. Alex Johnson

India's first railway opened in 1853, a 32 km line between Bombay and Thane. However, there was an earlier plan to build a line from Calcutta to Delhi, and this rare map from 1846, which helped hail the rise of Modern India, was prepared for the East India Railway Company's initial survey.

Map of the East Indian Railway (1846) by George Stephenson Kalakriti Archives

The construction of the railway system across India during the second half of the 19th Century utterly transformed the subcontinent’s society, communications and economy. Disparate regions that were separated by journeys that could last weeks could now take a few days, if not hours.

Peoples and cultures that historically had little contact with one another could now easily interact. Products in rural India that languished far from market could now be brought swiftly to cities and ports.

Map of the East Indian Railway, Showing the Line proposed to be constructed to connect Culcutta with the North West Provinces and the intermediate Civil & Military Stations, to accompany the report of the Managing Director of the East Indian Railway, 1849 by Unknown Kalakriti Archives

From a political perspective, it also allowed the British colonial regime to quickly move troops and civil servants around the country, solidifying its control over India.

The first railway completed in India was a 21 mile-long line of track running between Bombay and Thane, which opened in 1853. While seemingly a modest breakthrough, everyone knew that it was the prelude to a revolution – a pan-Indian Railway network.

In 1845, the East Indian Railway Company was formed with the objective of building a line from Calcutta to Delhi. Such a railway would connect the Company Raj’s capital with the ancient Mughal capital and would serve to unite India’s most populous regions.

The Gangetic Plain was India’s breadbasket and many cities such as Kanpur and Allahabad were increasingly important industrial centres.

The railway promised that, for the first time, products and peoples could be easily transported down through the plains and even to the seaport of Calcutta. The potential was enormous, and, if the railway were realized, it would dramatically transform Northern and Northeastern India.

The East Indian Railway Company was officially floated on 1 June 1845 with £4 million in investment capital – an enormous sum for the time.

Rowland Macdonald Stephenson (1808-95), an experienced railway engineer, was chosen as the Company’s first managing director. Stephenson and three surveyors immediately headed to Calcutta, arriving in July 1845.

George Huddleston, a later Director General of the Railway noted, Stephenson proceeded “with diligence and discretion which cannot be too lightly recommended, to survey the line from Calcutta to Delhi, through Mirzapore [Mirzapur], and so great and persevering were the exertions of himself and Staff that, in April, 1846, the surveys of the whole line were completed; important statistical information obtained and an elaborate report transmitted to your Directors in London.”

Copies of Stephenson’s manuscript surveys were given to the firm of the J. & C. Walker, the official mapmakers to the British East India Company (EIC). The Walker firm grafted Stephenson’s plotted proposed route of the railway onto one of its own existing general topographical maps depicting Central and Northern India, and printed the present bespoke map. Copies of the map were then supplied to the Directors to accompany Stephenson’s report.

The map is extremely rare as only a very small number of examples were ever issued. Nevertheless, it would have then served a very important role as the only authoritative graphic representation of the railway.

The East India Company, once an ambitious and hyperactive organization, by this time was beset by institutional fatigue and a lack of funds. While it recognized the value of the railways to India’s future, it proved too tired to provide any leadership and ended up presenting only bureaucratic obstacles to the railway builders. It was no surprise that following the Uprising of 1857 that Queen Victoria would put the “Honourable Company” out of its misery and replace it with Crown rule over India.

After three years of delays, in 1849, the EIC finally allowed the East Indian Railway Company to build an “experimental line” from Calcutta to Rajmahal (Jharkhand), a length of 100 miles.

In 1850, Stephenson appointed George Turnbull (1809-89), a highly experienced Scottish railway engineer, to lead the construction efforts. Turnbull would later gain great acclaim as the “First Railway Engineer of India”. Turnbull proceeded to survey the exact line of the new route and to design the Howrah Terminus, across the Hooghly from Calcutta, which, with 23 platforms, would soon become the largest rail station in Asia. Construction commenced in 1851 and proceeded slowly due to supply problems and the continued lack of cooperation from the EIC. The first stretch of line from Howrah to Hooghly, only 23 miles long, was opened for traffic in 1854. The construction then continued in the direction of Rajmahal.

Progress was further retarded by the Uprising of 1857, during which many supplies and pieces of track were stolen. A cholera epidemic in 1859 killed over 4,000 railway workers. Yet, the project still moved forward. The biggest technical obstacle that lay ahead was building a bridge over the 1-mile wide breadth of the Son River, the Ganges' largest southern tributary. This bridge (today’s Koillar or Abdul Bari Bridge) would turn out to be a great feat of engineering, being the longest bridge in India built before 1900. Commenced in 1856, it was not finished until 1862.

The line running all the way from Howrah to Benares was opened in 1862.

Another section of the line was being built separately along the Ganges Valley, with a line connecting Kanpur to Allahabad being completed in 1860, while Benares and Allahabad were connected in 1863. By 1866, all gaps between Howrah and Delhi were filled in and direct service along the entire line commenced.

Meanwhile, the pioneering, yet tiny, Bombay-Thane line had grown into the Great Indian Peninsula Railway. By 1870, it ran from Bombay to Allahabad, connecting the two great railways and making it was possible to traverse India in only a few days.

While the rail system had the effect of tightening the British Raj’s grip over India, over time, by allowing Indians from different parts of the country to easily interact with each other, it contributed towards fostering a coherent sense of national identity. In this way, it was a critical precondition to rise of the Indian Independence movement. Today, the custodian of the integrated national railway system, Indian Railways, employs over 1.3 million people, runs 151,000 km of track, and operates over 7,000 stations.

Author: Dr. Alex Johnson References 1. Cf. George Huddleston, George (1906), History of the East Indian Railway , (Calcutta, 1906) 2. Hena Mukherjee (1995), The Early History of the East Indian Railway 1845–1879 , (Calcutta, 1995) 3. M.A. Rao, Indian Railways , (New Delhi, 1988)

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first train travel distance in india

This day that year – 16 April 1853 | First passenger train of Indian sub-continent ran from Bori Bunder in Mumbai to Thane

The train was operated by the great indian peninsula railway and was hauled by three steam locomotives (sindh, sultan, and sahib)..

This day that year, First passenger train

In 1853, it was on this day that the first passenger train of the Indian sub-continent ran from Bori Bunder in Mumbai to Thane. A glorious instant, it changed the history of transportation in the country. During its inaugural run, the train carried 400 guests (approx) and covered a distance of around 34 km. It even received a salute of 21 guns. 

The train was operated by the Great Indian Peninsula Railway and was hauled by three steam locomotives (Sindh, Sultan, and Sahib). 

first train travel distance in india

The train had 14 carriages on a 1,676 mm broad gauge track between Bori Bunder (Mumbai) and Thane. India ’s first railway bridges, the Thane viaducts, were built over Thane Creek when the Mumbai-Thane line was expanded to Kalyan (in May 1854).

IRCTC

Indian Railways has come a long way since then. 

Here are some fascinating facts related to Indian Railways :

  • Indian Railways , by size, manages the fourth-largest national railway system in the world.
  • As of 31 March 2022, it has a total route length of 68,043 km. 
  • It has a running track length of 102,831 km, and a track length of 128,305 km.
  • In the year 2020, Indian Railways carried 808.6 crores (8.086 billion) passengers. 
  • In 2022, Indian Railways transported 1418.1 million tonnes of freight in the country. 
  • It runs 13,169 passenger trains daily (on both long-distance and suburban routes) covering 7,325 stations across the country. 
  • Mail or Express trains (the most common type of trains) operate at an average speed of 50.6 km/h. 
  • Suburban EMUs operate at an average speed of 37.5 km/h. 
  • Ordinary passenger trains operate at a moderate speed of 33.5 km/h. 
  • The top speed of passenger trains varies, with the Vande Bharat Express running at a peak speed of 180 km/h.
  • In 2021-2022, it generated Rs 196,128 crore in revenue.
  • The number of employees in Indian Railways – 1,252,347 (31 March 2021).

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Transportation History

Finding the unexpected in the everyday.

Today in Transportation History – 1854: The First Passenger Railway Train in Eastern India

first train travel distance in india

The first passenger railway train in eastern India (at the time under the rule of the British East India Company) steamed out of the present-day city of Howrah at 8:30 a.m. for the city of Hooghly. The trip took a total of 91 minutes.

This segment of the East Indian Railway Company – ultimately known as only the East Indian Railway – covered approximately 24 miles. The segment was officially opened about 16 months after India’s first passenger train, in the service of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway, had made its inaugural run between the cities of Bombay (present-day Mumbai) and Tannah (now called Thane) in the western region of the subcontinent.

The Company’s first train to run between Howrah and Hooghly included three first-class and two second-class coaches as well as three trucks for third-class passengers. All of these cars had been built there in India. This was because the ship transporting the original cars from England had sunk en route to India. The train’s locomotive was successfully imported to India, but only after undergoing its own unique set of challenges; due to a navigational error, the ship carrying the locomotive initially sailed to Australia instead and had to be redirected to India. The train was filled to capacity for the inaugural trip from Howrah to Hooghly, with more than 3,000 people having applied for the honor of riding in the first passenger train to travel in eastern India.

Scottish-born George Turnbull was the chief engineer responsible for the construction of the East Indian Railway Company line. His efforts on behalf of the Company and other railways in that part of the world earned him acclaim as the First Railway Engineer of India.

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Life Aboard the Longest Train Ride Through India

Beneath the relentless churn of steel, wood, and dust, the Indian railway is made entirely of stories.

Beneath the relentless churn of steel, wood, and dust, the Indian railway is made entirely of stories. For more than a century, it has witnessed the infinite expression of the human condition, borne the incalculable weight of separations, and gently rocked the world-weary into oblivion.

“It’s fresh and beautiful and repulsive at the same time,” says National Geographic photographer Matthieu Paley , who spent five days and four nights aboard the Vivek Express documenting its ever-unfolding story. Starting at the southernmost tip of India , the route stretches 2,637 miles northward from Kanniyakumari to Dibrugarh under the heavy gaze of the equatorial sun. It is the longest train ride in the Indian subcontinent.

passengers on the Vivek Train traveling across India

“People want time,” Paley says. “We live in a world that wants to compress time and make things faster and faster, and I love the train because it’s an environment where you have to slow down.”

a map of India

The Dibrugarh-Kanniyakumari Vivek Express stops 58 times on its long journey.

The “slow travel” movement can be traced back to the 19th-century Industrial Revolution, an epoch defined by unprecedented acceleration, the omnipresence of technology, and commodification of time. The Romantics warned this modern fixation on speed was a self-made “ iron cage ” that would lead to alienation, loss of meaning, and an unwillingness towards self-reflection. The remedy, they proposed, was deceleration.

“My favorite kind of photography happens when I slow down; but these days it’s not easy,” Paley says. “On trains, I am held hostage, disconnected, suspended in time. It forces me to slow down. This is what I crave: Give me a long, slow ride and I am happy.”

The experience of time, however, hinges entirely upon our continuously evolving perceptions of speed. While rail travel may be slow by contemporary standards, when India’s first train traversed 21 miles from Bombay to Thana in April 1853, it was a triumph of engineering and criticized for the same reasons set forth by the Romantics.

Over the next century and a half, the railway not only drastically altered Indian culture, but restructured time and space itself.

a merchant on the Vivek Train traveling across India

On trains, I am held hostage, disconnected, suspended in time. Matthieu Paley

Considered both a transformative technology and a symbol of British imperial oppression, the railway erased once-formidable distances, generated trade and intellectual exchange, and made travel accessible to the masses. Simultaneously, however, it fostered environments that bred infectious disease, created exploitative labor conditions, and irrevocably altered the natural landscape.

British colonists viewed the train as a harbinger of progress—a tool to abolish the caste system and forge a capitalist society. Instead, it evolved into a space that was invariably Indian: beauty and chaos in tandem.

“The Indian subcontinent can be a disturbing place,” Paley says. “There is a certain lightness of being, but it’s hard to spot at first, hidden under all the noise and ongoing colorful madness. That’s what I love about this part of the world—you can just engage with your surroundings without sounding weird.”

This unflinching engagement is fundamental to slow travel, which places value on quality of interactions with local cultures over the rapid acquisition of passport stamps. This ideal hearkens back to the Romantic belief that preoccupation with the future corrupts the present journey.

passengers on the Vivek Train traveling across India

Scientists agree that industrialized societies are experiencing a paradoxical “ time famine ”—the persistent feeling that we have too much to do, and not enough time to accomplish it—and that this interferes with our ability to savor immaterial experiences. We’re doing everything faster, but we don’t feel like we have more free time.

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As India hurtles ceaselessly into the future, it’s unclear what the next generation of train travel will look like. With the support of a 12-billion-dollar loan from Japan, the government is currently developing a high speed bullet train that will connect the cities of Mumbai and Ahmedabad. "This enterprise will launch a revolution in Indian railways and speed up India's journey into the future,” according to Prime Minster Narendra Modi. “It will become an engine of economic transformation.”

the Vivek Train traveling across India

In West Bengal, a man bathes in a river near his home. Paley also had time to wash his own shirt before the train departed again.

This is, perhaps, the duality of modernization—it has the potential to drastically improve lives while simultaneously engendering spiritual atrophy.

Henry David Thoreau prescribed “a tonic of wildness” to escape the voracious pace of urbanization. But in a country of 1.3 billion, wildness is a state of mind—a willingness to confront life in all its messy iterations. With more than 22 million daily passengers, 1.3 million employees, and 41,000 miles of tracks, the Indian railway teems with life.

“We are a collective mass moving along in rhythm, shaking, ever-evolving,” Paley says. “If you pay attention, you can engage with the pure joy of traveling. For me, it is the feeling of being united with all our differences.”

If you pay attention, you can engage with the pure joy of traveling. For me, it is the feeling of being united with all our differences. Matthieu Paley

Matthieu Paley's work has been featured in National Geographic magazine and news . See photos from his journey through China by train and follow him on Instagram @paleyphoto .

For Hungry Minds

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History of the Indian Railways and the First Train In India

A History of the First Train In India

On April 16, 1853, the first passenger train in India ran from Mumbai’s Bori Bunder to Thane, Maharashtra. So, look at this blog to explore the history of Indian railways, including industrial railways, passenger trains, and the story of electrification and modernization. The running of first train in India was a historic day, and 400 lucky passengers got opportunity for this once-in-a-lifetime excursion. The Great Indian Peninsula Railway was the first to run a train.

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History of the First Train in India

In 1832, the idea of creating a railway system in India was first proposed. Train travel in Britain was still in its infancy at the time, but the East India Company saw the significance of creating a comprehensive rail network. Lord Hardinge, who is a Governor-General of India at that time. He permitted private entrepreneurs to build a rail system. Two companies, i.e., “Great Indian Peninsula Railway” and the “East Indian Railway Company,” were established in 1845.

Alos, read: Top 10 Fastest Trains in India

The first railway in India went from Bori Bunder to Thane, covering approximately 34 kilometers. In 1880, a network of roughly 14,500 kilometers was developed around the three major port towns of Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta. The Railway Board was established in 1901 under the Department of Commerce and Industry’s direction. Regardless, the Viceroy was given authority.

History of Indian Railways

1832–1852: industrial railways, 1853–1924: passenger railways and expansion, 1925–1946: electrification and further expansion, 1951–1983: zonal re-organization and further developments, railrecipe, an irctc-authorized e-catering service provider.

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The Economic Times

Today is 165th anniversary of India's first train

First passenger train

First passenger train

It was exactly on this day 165 years ago that the first passenger train ran from Bombay to Thane for around 34 kilometres.

The train had three engines

The train had three engines

On April 16 1853, the 14-carriage train ran for 34 kilometres started from now Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal with 400 passengers on board. The train was hauled by three engines named Sahib, Sindh, and Sultan.

Start of something bigger

Start of something bigger

The passenger line was built and operated by the Great Indian Peninsula Railway (GIPR). It was built in 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) broad gauge, which became the country's standard for railways.

Other firsts

Other firsts

The first railway budget was presented in 1925. On 3 February 1925, the first electric passenger train in India ran between Victoria Terminus (VT) and Kurla.

The Economic Times

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Indian Railways Marks 171st Anniversary Of First Train Journey From Mumbai To Thane. See Post

Indian railways started the first passenger train on april 16, 1853, from bori bunder to thane covering a distance of 34 km..

Indian Railways Marks 171st Anniversary Of First Train Journey From Mumbai To Thane. See Post

India's first passenger train was flagged off on 16 April, 171 years ago.

Indian Railways, often described as the "transport lifeline of the nation", is the fourth largest railway network in the world. From suburbs to urban transit, the Indian rail network covers the length and breadth of the country. Notably, Indian Railways started the first passenger train on April 16, 1853, from Bori Bunder to Thane covering a distance of 34 km. It was operated by three locomotives, named Sahib, Sultan and Sindh, and had thirteen carriages. Since then, the day has been marked as the Indian Rail Transport Day.

According to Indian Railways , the formal inauguration ceremony was performed on April 16, 1853, when 14 railway carriages carrying about 400 guests left Bori Bunder at 3.30 pm "amidst the loud applause of a vast multitude and to the salute of 21 guns." 

The Central Railway took to X to celebrate the occasion with an old photo and wrote, ''In 1853, exactly 171 years ago today, India marked a significant milestone in transportation history with the inaugural journey of the first train from Bori Bunder to Thane. This pivotal moment heralded a new era of connectivity that shaped the nation's future.'' 

The pic captures a scene from the early days of railways in India, featuring a train pulled by a single locomotive. 

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See the tweet here:

In 1853, exactly 171 years ago today, India marked a significant milestone in transportation history with the inaugural journey of the first train from Bori Bunder to Thane. This pivotal moment heralded a new era of connectivity that shaped the nation's future. #CentralRailway … pic.twitter.com/z61ynx0hnh — Central Railway (@Central_Railway) April 16, 2024

Since then, the largest public transporter, which is also one of the largest employers in the world has been serving the nation by carrying more than 2.3 crore railway passengers across all trains per day.

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16th April – First Train From Mumbai To Thane

first train travel distance in india

The inauguration of 21-mile long railway line took place on Saturday 16th April 1853 from Bombay to Tannah (now Thane) getting the salute of 21 guns. First train in India and even in Asia, with 14 carriages and carrying 400 enchanted guests steamed out of Bori Bunder, pulled by two black monster-like engines at 3.30 p.m.

Image source: Pinterest.com (it’s not a verified photo of actual train)

The project was undertaken by Great Indian Peninsula (GIP) Railway company. The test run was done on 18th November 1852. The train service was made open to people after two days on 18th April.

Here are the – Facts About First Train in Mumbai:

  • India’s first  railway engine, built by Vulcon Foundary in England, which arrived in Mumbai, was named “Falkland” after lord Falkland, the Governor.
  • The idea of laying railway line between Mumbai & Thane and thereafter upto Kalyan and Bhor Ghat was conceived by George Clark in 1843. He was the Chief Engineer of the Government of Mumbai.
  • Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy , Nana Shankarseth were the part of the committee and gave concrete shape to the plan.
  • Mumbai had the distinction of flagging off Asia’s first railway train. It led to the development of rail links with the rest of the country and made the city the hub of the nation’s commercial life.
  • At Sion, the train made a 15 minutes halt for watering the engines and oiling the new wheels. It finally arrived at Thane which stretched for 24 miles, after 55 minutes, travelling at a speed of 35 mph, to a great welcome from the crowds gathered there. While returning from Thane to Bori Bunder it took only 40 minutes and reached by 7 p.m.
  • The fares from Mumbai to Thane in 1853 were Re. 2 and annas 10 for the first class, Re. 1 and anna 1 for the second class and annas 5 and 3 pice for the third class. Third class fare was about 3 pies per mile.
  • The project was implemented in the collaboration with Great Indian Peninsula (GIP) Railway Company in England and the East India Company.
  • Nana Shankarseth, Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy and other prominent local leaders were included in the planning committee.
  • 10,000 men worked on the project and 10,000 pounds had spent to lay the railway line.
  • Public holiday was announced and hundreds of people gathered for the inauguration.
  • Mumbai-Thane railway route train carried 4,50,000 passengers in first year without any accident.
  • Four trains ferried to and fro daily.
  • First Mumbai Suburban Local Train Service
  • First train from Bombay (Mumbai) to Callian (Kalyan) on 1st May 1954
  • Related info on Western Railway website

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[…] The first railway line in Asia was built between Bombay (Mumbai) and Tannah (Thane) on 16th April 1853. As an extension to this route, planning for the railway line till Calian (Kalyan) was underway. […]

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Train advice from the Man in Seat 61...

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A beginner's guide to

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The best way to see India is at ground level on the incredible Indian railway system, not from 35,000 feet.  Experience the bustle of Indian railway stations and a comfortable journey on an Indian express train with the tea seller's cry of Chai, chai, garam chai wafting down the aisle.  Forget media images of crowded local trains with people sitting on the roof.  In an AC Chair Car or AC1 or AC2 sleeper on an express, all seats & berths are reserved and it’s safe, civilised, inexpensive & comfortable.  Even journeys such as Mumbai to Delhi or Delhi to Jaisalmer can be covered time-effectively by overnight sleeper, centre to centre, saving a hotel bill too.  Book Indian train tickets online at 12go.asia

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Useful country information

Train routes & maps.

India's passenger rail network is the third biggest in the world after Russia and China, with 63,000 km of rail routes and 6,800 stations.  In terms of passenger kilometres, it's the biggest in the world.  Indian Railways are the world's biggest employer, with over 1.5 million staff.

The trains in India go almost everywhere, and it's generally safe to assume that you can travel between any two Indian cities or major towns by train, the length and breadth of the country.

Most of India's rail network is broad gauge with rails 5' 6" apart, wider than standard gauge (4' 8½") used in Europe, allowing Indian trains to be wider than European trains.  Parts of the country such as Rajasthan used to be served by an extensive metre-gauge network, but most metre-gauge routes have now been converted to broad gauge.  A few hill railway such as Kalka-Simla and New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling use narrow gauge, either 2' or 2' 6".

For an Indian railways route map see surveyofindia.gov.in/files/Railway map_Eng_C.jpg (please let me know if this stops working).

Also try www.mapsofindia.com/maps/india/india-railway-map.htm , or indiarailinfo.com/atlas .

Back to top

How to check train times & fares

It can be easiest to check train schedules & fares for the main tourist routes at agency website 12go.asia , this can also sell you a ticket, hassle-free.

For train times & fares for any journey in India use www.indianrail.gov.in .

This is one of the various official Indian Railways websites, an amazing site but a little bewildering, not helped by there being another official site, www.indianrailways.gov.in .  It's a good training course for your travels in India.

To check train times, look for Reserved Train Between Stations at the top of their home page.

To check fares, first find a train and note the train number, then click Fare enquiry at the top of their home page.

To check availability over various dates, first find a train and note the train number, then click Seat availability at the top of their home page.

Or download an app for your phone.  There are many apps to choose from, the official IRCTC apps seem unavailable outside India so try these 3rd-party apps for checking Indian train times on the go.  They're ad-heavy, but they work, I find Ixigo the best.

Indian Rail IRCTC for iPhone or Indian Rail IRCTC for Android .

Ixigo for iPhone or Ixigo for Android .

You can also buy the famous Trains at a Glance timetable booklet for 100 rupees at any station bookstall (it makes a great souvenir), or click here to download the pages you need for free .  This shows times in printed form for most major stations on all the main routes.

Tips for checking Indian train times

Which station in which city .

Kashmir originally had no rail connection, but a line to Srinagar and beyond has now been completed with more under construction.  The line heads through tough terrain, and features the highest railway bridge in the world.  Srinagar's station code is SINA (not to be confused with another smaller Srinagar in Rajasthan with station code SNAR).

Khajuraho (a much-visited temple complex) now has a station, station code KURJ.  There's a daily overnight train called the Kurukshetra-Khajuraho Express leaving New Delhi station at 18:20, picking up at Agra Cantonment around 21:35 and arriving in Khajuraho at 08:00 next morning.  It  returns from Khajuraho at 18:35 arriving New Delhi at 08:45.

Example train times

Example fares from delhi.

£1 = 105 Rupees, €1 = 90 Rupees, $1 = 82 Rupees.

Shatabdi Express = Premier daytime train, special fare payable, meals included.

Rajdhani Express = Premier overnight train, special fare payable, meals included.

Child fares on Indian trains since April 2016:   Children aged 0 to 4 inclusive travel free.  Children aged 5 to 11 inclusive travel at half fare if they do not take up a reserved seat or berth, but as from April 2016 they must pay the adult fare if they travel with their own reserved seat or berth.  I do not recommend that any child aged 5 to 11 travels without their own seat or berth in AC1, AC2, AC3, AC Chair car or Sleeper Class, so this effectively means you must now pay the adult fare for children aged 5 and over.  Children aged 12 and over pay the adult fare in all cases.

Classes explained

Which class to choose.

Above, a typical long-distance express or mail train with older carriages (not a premier Rajdhani or Duronto express).  You can just make out 3 cars in the centre of the train with different windows.  These are the AC cars, perhaps one AC1, one AC2 & one AC3 car.  The rest of the train is Sleeper class.  Courtesy of Albert Höchst.

Types of train

Which train to choose.

Executive Chair (EC) class on a Vande Bharat Express.  These are India's most modern trains, capable of 160 km/h (100 mph) & used at up to 130 km/h (80 mph).  See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vande_Bharat_Express .  Photos courtesy of Nonstop Eurotrip , see video of Varanasi-Delhi Vande Bharat Express .

AVL, CNF, RAC & Waitlist

You need a reservation to travel on Indian long-distance trains, you can't just turn up and hop on.  Reservations are fully computerised using the world's largest computer reservation system.  Trains get fully-booked weeks in advance, so buy tickets as far ahead as possible.

When do bookings open?

Bookings for most Indian long-distance trains currently open 120 days before departure.

It was 60 days until 2008, when it was experimentally extended to 90 days, then it was experimentally extended even further to 120 days in 2012, reduced again to 60 days in 2013 to make ticket 'scalping' by agencies harder, but restored to 120 days as from 1 April 2015. 

Some short-distance inter-city trains may open for bookings less than this, for example Delhi-Kalka & Kalka-Simla may open only 30 days or in some cases just 15 days ahead.

The remarkable Indian Railways system

Indian Railways have a unique system with 4 possible statuses for seats/berths/bookings:

AVL = Available , these are seats or berths that are unsold and available for booking.

CNF = Confirmed .  When you book an available seat or berth, your PNR status (Personal Name Record) becomes CNF, confirmed.  You're safely booked on the train with a specific seat or berth.

RAC = Reservation Against Cancellation .  When all the seats or berths on a train in a given class have been sold, a certain number of tickets in that class are sold as Reservation Against Cancellation, or RAC.

WL = Waitlist .  When all the RAC places have been sold, further prospective passengers can buy Waitlist (WL) tickets.

If you go to www.indianrail.gov.in & click Seat availability you can see how many seats remain available in each class on a given train.

For example, today is 26 January, let's say I want to go from Delhi to Kolkata on the best train, the overnight Howrah Rajdhani in AC 2-tier. Tomorrow's train is fully-booked in AC2 and shown as NOT AVAILABLE.  I can buy Waitlisted tickets for this train on 28 and 29 January.  I can buy RAC tickets on any day between 30 January & 5 February and if I buy those I can definitely board the train and travel with (in practice) maybe a 90% chance of ending up with a berth to myself.  The first day on which AC 2-tier is shown as AVL so I can buy a ticket and instantly get a confirmed berth is 6 February.  The Foreign Tourist quota would help me here, there are 7 or 8 FT quota places shown as AVL every day from 27 January onwards, but I'll explain that in the quotas section .

Reservation Against Cancellation (RAC)

With an RAC ticket, you're allowed to board the train and travel.  Whatever happens, you know you're safely booked on that train.  So if you're offered an RAC ticket you should take it, even though you won't have a specific seat or berth number at this stage.

In the vast majority of cases, one of the confirmed passengers will cancel or unsold tickets will be left in one of the more obscure quotas on departure day and you'll be promoted from RAC to CNF with a confirmed seat or berth on the train.

Your name will then be shown against a specific seat or berth number on the reservation list pinned on the notice board at the boarding station on the day of travel when the train is charted , or you can check your PNR (Personal Name Record) status online .  A waitlisted passenger will be promoted from WL to RAC in your place.

In the unlikely event that nobody cancels, you'll be given a place to sit (but not a berth) in a carriage of the class you've booked.  For example, two RAC passengers might be given seats on a bunk that would normally be for one person.  In most cases, at least one of the confirmed passengers will fail to show up for the train and the on-board staff will allocate their berth to the passenger holding ticket RAC1.  The passenger holding ticket RAC2 will then be left with a berth to themselves, solving two RAC passengers' problems!  In the worst case scenario, if there were no no-shows the RAC passengers would have to sit up all night or take turns using the berth to snooze, but in practice this seldom happens.  Like I said, if an RAC place is available, you should take it.

A downside of buying RAC tickets as a couple, family or small group is that you might be split up, because you get the places freed up when people cancel or which are left when tickets remain unsold in special quotas.  But there's usually only one or two AC2 or AC3 cars on a given train, so in those classes you probably won't be far apart.

Incidentally, RAC tickets exist in AC2, AC3 & SL, but not in AC1, EC, CC or FC.  In AC1, EC, CC & FC, passengers are always CNF or WL.

Waitlist (WL)

With a WL ticket you cannot travel, unless you are promoted to RAC or CNF before departure.

Each WL ticket has two numbers at any given moment in time, for example WL10/WL3.

The first number is the ticket's original Waitlist number.  In this example, WL10 means you bought the Number 10 Waitlist ticket allocated to this train, 10th in the queue when the train opened for booking.  This number won't change, even if you are promoted to a confirmed place (CNF), your ticket will always be WL10 and shown as such on the reservation list.

The second number is your current position in the queue, this number will reduce as people cancel.  On websites & apps that show only one WL number rather than two, this is the number it shows.  In this example WL10/WL3 means that 7 people have already cancelled and you are now 3rd in line for promotion to RAC.  If 3 more people cancel, you'll be promoted to RAC and can travel.

If more people cancel you may even be promoted to CNF with a confirmed seat or berth.  With a low-numbered WL ticket you've a good chance of this happening.  For example, one traveller reports having Waitlisted places between WL1 and WL10 on numerous trips, and always successfully got promoted to CNF with a confirmed place on the train, usually in the 24 hours before departure as that's when all the movement takes place from tickets in unsold quotas being used to reduce the number of WL & RAC passengers.

Keep checking your PNR status online .  Even if you're only promoted to RAC, you can at least travel.  If the train is charted and you're still only Waitlisted, then you can't travel and your fare will automatically be refunded, less a minor clerkage fee.

How likely is a given WL ticket to be confirmed?

There are now several websites that claim to predict how likely it is that a given WL ticket will be confirmed and allow you on the train, based on historical data.  Try entering your PNR into trainman.in , or use it to see what the current availability of a given train is, and how likely it is that if you bought WL tickets they'd be confirmed by departure.

The Vikalp scheme (ATAS)

There's yet another process to help Waitlisted passengers.  When you buy a WL ticket, you may be asked if you want to opt in to the Vikalp scheme, also known as Alternate Train Accommodation Scheme or ATAS.  Vikalp is Hindi for option .

If you tick the Vikalp box, you're offered a selection of possible alternative trains and you can choose which of these you'd be willing to take if you can't get a berth on the train you've booked.  Then, if you are still Waitlisted (WL) when your original train is charted (so you can't travel on it), and if space is available in the same class on one of your chosen alternative trains, you'll be given a confirmed (CNF) berth on that instead.

An alternative train is one between the same or similar origin & destination leaving between 30 minutes & 72 hours after your original choice of train.  For example, a train leaving from Old Delhi or Delhi H.Nizamudin might be considered alternatives to a train from New Delhi.

If there are several of you on one PNR, either all of you will be given places on an alternative train or none of you will, so don't worry, you won't be split up.  However, once you opt in to Vikalp, you can't opt out again.  And if you are transferred to a CNF place on an alternative train and decide you don't want it, you can cancel but only in line with the terms & conditions of a CNF place, which means a partial refund less the CNF cancellation fees (as an unsuccessful Waitlisted passenger on your original train you'd normally have been refunded almost all of your money).

Charting is the process of drawing up the final passenger list for each carriage of a given train, allocating names to berths.  The list is posted on the reservations notice board at stations or you can check your PNR status online .

During this process, any unsold tickets in quotas such as handicapped, military or parliamentary are released, freeing up places so RAC passengers can be moved up to Confirmed (CNF) and WL passengers to RAC or CNF.  So if you have a WL ticket and haven't already been promoted to RAC or CNF as passengers cancel, this is when you discover whether or not you're on the train.

It's also at this point that specific berth numbers are allocated to AC1 sleeper passengers, which is why you can't choose between an AC1 2-berth coupé and an AC1 4-berth compartment when you book.

Charting for trains leaving their origin station between 12:00 & 23:00 takes place around 4 hours before departure from that station.

Charting for trains leaving their origin between 23:00 & 12:00 takes place 19:00-21:00 Monday-Saturday or 13:00-15:00 Sundays & holidays.

How to check your current status

You can confirm your current PNR (Personal Name Record) status as WL, RAC or CNF at www.indianrail.gov.in/pnr_Enq.html or using one of the apps suggested above , by entering the PNR number shown on your ticket.

Remember that things can change even on the day of departure, most movement happens shortly before departure, when the train is charted.

When you buy a ticket, it comes from a specific quota.  A quota is simply an allocation of tickets for a particular type of traveller such as  senior, handicapped, military or government, on each train in each class.  By default, tickets come from the General quota.

General (GN) quota

Remote location (rl) & pooled (pq) quotas, handicapped, senior & ladies quotas.

The Senior quota is only for Indian seniors so don't use this if you're not Indian.

The Ladies quota only exists in Sleeper class & AC3, it gets you berths in one small bay reserved for women, it's hardly worth bothering with.

The Lower Berth quota is for anyone with mobility issues who can't use the ladder to the upper berths, so absolutely needs a lower. 

When a train is charted and the final reservation list is compiled, any unsold seats or berths in these quotas will be freed up used to reduce the RAC/Waitlist, promoting RAC passengers to CNF and WL passengers to RAC and (once all RAC passengers are confirmed) CNF.

Foreign Tourist (FT) quota

Many important trains have a small Foreign Tourist (FT) quota of seats or berths available only to foreign tourists.  The purpose of the FT quota is to allow foreign tourists to book trains at short notice notice when the General quota is fully-booked.

It's not a foolproof way to travel around India without pre-booking:  There's an FT quota on only 200 trains a day out of some 9,000 trains, and the quota might be just 2 places, seldom more than 12, in one or two specific classes, typically AC1 & AC2 or CC.  So even using the FT quota, you may have to wait a day or so before there is a berth available to your chosen destination in your chosen class.

For example, today is 25 January, the earliest date for which AC2 tickets available from the General quota on the Delhi-Varanasi Swatantrtwa Express is 11 February. But if I look at the Foreign Tourist quota, although there are no tickets today, there are two tickets available in AC2 tomorrow, and on each of the following few days.

If you buy an FT quota ticket at a ticket office or tourist reservation centre, you must pay in US Dollars, pounds sterling, or rupees backed by an exchange certificate proving they've come from a bank or bureau de change in exchange for foreign currency.  Rupees backed by an ATM receipt and foreign bank card are usually sufficient.  You can now book tickets from the Foreign Tourist quota when booking online .

Let's be clear, as a foreign tourist, you don't have to book from the FT quota.  Anyone of any nationality can book from the General quota whenever it's available.  And FT tickets are a little more expensive than tickets from the General quota, too.

Indeed, if there are still seats available in the General quota when you book, you shouldn't use the FT quota .  Because later on when the train is fully-booked, some other overseas visitors may urgently need those precious few FT places, desperate to get a train back to Delhi for their flight home.  If you used up all the FT places weeks ahead when you didn't need to, those travellers may be stranded!

Tatkal (TQ & PT) quotas

To allow travel at short notice on trains that are often fully-booked weeks before departure, Indian Railways introduced a system called Tatkal (Hindi for immediate ).  A number of tickets on key trains are held back and released at 10:00 one day before departure (originally 72 hours before departure, reduced to 2 days back in 2009 and just 1 day in 2011).  They are sold with a Tatkal fee of 10% of the fare in 2nd class or 30% in all other classes.  There are in fact two Tatkal quotas, regular Tatkal (TQ quota) with fixed fares, and Premium Tatkal (PT quota) with variable fares that increase with demand.  Tatkal places can also be booked online .  If there are seats available in the Foreign Tourist quota then the Tatkal quota may be irrelevant for you, if not, the Tatkal system can be useful.

How to buy tickets online

Indian trains often get fully-booked weeks in advance as demand usually exceeds supply.  So if you have a fixed itinerary and limited time you should buy tickets in advance before you get to India.

I recommend ticketing agency 12go.asia as option 1 for good reason:  It's hassle-free, even though it only does the principle trains on the routes usually requested by visitors.  It only sells confirmed tickets, it doesn't sell RAC or WL places.  It happily accepts overseas credit cards.

However, for complete access to all routes, trains, ticket types & quotas including Waitlisted & RAC , you must face the challenge of registering with the official Indian Railways booking website irctc.co.in, which is option 2.  I provide detailed instructions below.  Be warned, the process may drive you nuts.  Some people give up, others manage it in the end, but once registered you can book anything.

Option 1, buy at 12go.asia

I recommend ticketing agency 12go.asia as the quickest & easiest way to buy tickets for the principal trains and routes used by tourists, it makes booking trains as easy as booking flights.

You can check prices & availability online, pay with an international credit card and get the same e-ticket you'd get if you booked directly with irctc.co.in, but without the frustration of having to create an account and register with irctc.co.in.

Booking opens 120 days ahead , although some short-distance inter-city trains have a shorter booking horizon.  You can't buy tickets before reservations open.  Indian trains get fully booked weeks ahead, so book as far ahead as you can to be sure of a place.

How it works

12go.asia 's system shows fares & availability in real time, taken from IRCTC's system.  You select your train & class and click to buy.  Tickets are then manually secured by 12go staff using IRCTC's business-to-business booking system.

You can choose to see prices & pay in Indian Rupees, USD, GBP, Euros & several other currencies.

Limitations

12go.asia sells tickets for all the major routes of interest to visitors, but not between every possible station.  For that you need irctc.co.in.

Option 2, buy at www.irctc.co.in

You can buy train tickets direct from Indian Railways at the IRCTC website www.irctc.co.in .

Registering to use www.irctc.co.in is a time-consuming and frustrating process, but once registered you'll have access to all routes, trains, classes & ticket types.

Irctc.co.in has accepted overseas (non-Indian) credit cards since 2016, although it occasionally goes through periods when international cards don't seem to be accepted, just to keep everyone on their toes.  You must select the payment option which mentions International cards powered by PayU at the payment stage.

How to register for an IRCTC account

Go to www.irctc.co.in and click REGISTER top right.

Now enter the details to create an account.

Choose a username , some trial and error may be needed.

Enter your mobile phone number - your home country's international dialling code goes in the box marked ISD (this box says '91' until you have changed India to your own country in the box above).  The ISD for the UK is '44'.  Then enter your mobile phone number without any leading '0'.

Pin code means postcode .  Use 123456 as it won't accept UK-style postcodes.  Under Post Office , just enter your city & phone number again.

Payment problems paying the SMS verification fee

Just after I test-registered they imposed a fee for sending the OTP to a non-Indian mobile.  A few people have had credit card acceptance problems in paying this fee, but others find paying the fee works fine.  Again, I don't know why, but it could be problems with your own bank detecting and blocking a 'suspicious'  foreign transaction.  Give them a call!

How to buy tickets at www.irctc.co.in

When you click to see availability on a particular train, you will see places shown as AVL , RAC or WL , see the explanation of Reservation Against Cancellation & Waitlisting here .

AVL = Available , this means there are tickets available for confirmed seats or berths on that train. 

RAC = Reservation Against Cancellation , this means that the train is theoretically full, but Reservation Against Cancellation tickets are available for that train which allow you to board and be allocated a berth by the conductor.  So if you only see RAC tickets available, my advice is to go ahead and book, you'll still be able to travel on that train.

Tip:  Download the IRCTC app for your phone.   Download the IRCTC Rail Connect app for iPhone (if it's available in your region, it may not be) or IRCTC Rail Connect app for Android onto your phone.  You'll probably find you can't buy tickets with overseas credit cards using the app, but tickets bought online at the IRCTC website will show up in the app and can be shown to the conductor.  You can check train times, and see the current status of your booking if you are waitlisted or RAC.  Feedback appreciated .  I recommend some other apps that are available outside India in the travel tips section .

Option 3, Cleartrip.com, Makemytrip.com , Ixigo.com

How to buy tickets at the station.

The main stations in big cities and tourist centres such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Agra, Jaipur and Varanasi have an International Tourist Bureau where foreign travellers can book trains away from the crowds and queues at the normal booking office.  There is also a 24-hour rail booking office at Delhi International Airport.

For a list of stations with an International Tourist Bureau & opening times, see www.indianrail.gov.in , select Information then International Tourist .

New Delhi International Tourist Bureau ( temporarily closed )

U pdate 2024:   The New Delhi International Tourist Bureau remains temporarily closed due to the pandemic and low numbers of tourists.  A notice directs tourists to the international tourist counter at the Rail Reservation Centre 300m down the road, see the section below .

When open, the International Tourist Bureau at New Delhi railway station makes it easy for foreign visitors to buy tickets.  They could often sell you places out of the tourist quota, even when a train is fully-booked for Indian passengers.  Before the pandemic, it was normally open 06:00-23:00 every day, it's now temporarily closed.

How to find it

Enter New Delhi main station entrance on the Paharganj side (shown in the photo below left), veer slightly to the left and go up one flight of stairs to find yourself outside the International Tourist Bureau, as shown in the photo below right.  It's above platform 1.  If it doesn't look like the photo below, it isn't the real International tourist office.

New Delhi international tourist counter

Mumbai csmt, formerly bombay victoria terminus.

A station to rival London's St Pancras, Mumbai CSMT is an attraction in its own right.  Completed in 1887, its full title is Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus or (officially) Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, station code CSMT .  Known as Bombay Victoria Terminus until 1996 and still known as 'VT' by many, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chhatrapati_Shivaji_Terminus .

Foreign Tourist Counter:   At Mumbai CSMT you can easily buy tickets from the foreign tourist quota at the Foreign Tourist counter, counter 4 downstairs in the Reservation Centre at CSMT.  It moved from counter 20 upstairs in 2018, please let me know if it changes again.

Tips for train travel in India

Checking your reservation.

The reservation system is very efficient and the days of finding your reserved berth already occupied by several passengers are long gone.  Your train, coach & berth number will be printed on your ticket - unless you're travelling in AC1 in which case the reservation list with your allocated berth numbers is only compiled a 2-4 hours before departure.

Reservation lists for each class in each long-distance train are posted on the notice board at each station about two hours before departure, showing the name, age and sex of each passenger reserved in each berth in each coach.  The age and sex help the ticket inspector identify that the right passenger is in the right berth.  A reservation list for each coach used to be pasted next to the entrance door on the train itself, but this is no longer done.

If you need to check your reservation, you can do so on your phone or laptop by entering your PNR (= booking reference) a PNR status-checking website such as www.railyatri.in/pnr-status or etrain.info/in , or using one of the Indian railways apps.

Download an app

I recommend downloading an app for your phone.  There are a bewildering number to choose from, some official, some 3rd party.  The official IRCTC apps seem unavailable outside India, so try these:

Indian Rail IRCTC for iPhone or Ixigo for iPhone .

Indian Rail IRCTC for Android or Ixigo for Android .

With these you can:

Check train schedules between any two stations.

Check a train's schedule at each of its calling points.  It also shows the train formation and carriage numbering to help you find your seat or berth.

Check your PNR status to see whether a Waitlisted ticket has become RAC or Confirmed.

Check real-time train running to see if your train is on time.

Check the platform for your train using the Live Station Info button, so you won't have to rely on the station departure displays to find your train.

Set a destination alarm to warn you a certain number of kilometres before your destination.

Luggage on Indian trains

Luggage is not a problem on Indian trains, you take your bags with you onto the train and place them on the overhead racks or underneath the lower berths.

The free luggage allowance is generous:  You can take to 70 Kg in AC1, 50 Kg in AC2, 40 Kg in AC3, AC Chair class or Sleeper class, 35 Kg in 2nd class seats.  Most western travellers are unlikely to exceed that, but if you really need to, you can pay an excess luggage fee and take up to 150 Kg in AC1 or 100 Kg in AC2.  However, the maximum is 40 Kg in AC3 or AC Chair class.

Theft of luggage is rare, but for peace of mind take along a bicycle lock or medium-sized padlock to secure your bags.  In the sleeping-cars, there are wire hoops hanging down underneath the seats to which you can padlock your luggage while you sleep.

Carriage numbers

The carriage numbers shown on tickets, on reservation lists and on the side of each coach consist of a letter and a number, for example H1, A1, A2, B1, B2, S1, S2, S3 and so on.  The letter shows the class of accommodation in that car.

A = air-con 2-tier (2A).

B = air-con 3-tier (3A).

AB = composite coach, half air-con 2-tier, half air-con 3-tier.

C = air-con chair car (CC).

D = non-air-con 2nd class reserved (@S).

E = executive chair class (EC).

G & J are used for AC 3-tier & Air-conditioned Chair class on Garib Rath trains.

H = air-conditioned 1st class (1A).

HA = composite coach, half AC1, half AC2.

S = sleeper class (SL).

There's typically just one air-con 1st class sleeper on a given train, so that's usually numbered H1.  If there were two air-con 2-tier cars on a train, those cars would be numbers A1 & A2.  So if you booked an AC2 ticket you'd expect to be given a car number 'A1' or 'A2', if you booked AC1 you'd expect to be in car H1 or HA1.

Food and drink on Indian trains

There are no restaurant or buffet cars on Indian Railways, but on long distance trains an attendant will appear in your coach and ask you if you would like to order food.  He will note down your order (usually a choice of 'veg' or 'non-veg') on a bit of paper.  An hour or so later he will reappear with some rice and curry in small foil containers from the kitchen car.  It is not expensive - you can reckon on £2-£3 per meal.  Attendants also regularly pass down each car selling soft drinks, snacks, or excellent hot sweet Indian tea (garam chai) for a few rupees.  On the premier Rajdhani Express trains (linking Delhi with Mumbai, Kolkata, etc.) and the premier daytime Shatabdi Express trains (linking Delhi with Jaipur and Agra, etc.), food is included in the fare, served at your seat.

Pre-order your food from a restaurant of your choice.   Alternatively, there are now several Indian websites that allow you to pre-book food to be delivered to your seat on the train from various vendors along the way.  If you have a confirmed train booking you can go to railrestro.com , enter your PNR, select a vendor you like the sound of who is located at a station where your train calls at a suitable time, and select specific items from their menu to be delivered to you on board the train at that station - reports so far have been very positive, but feedback is always appreciated !

Cleanliness, toilets & crowding

The efficient reservation system means that you can safely forget any pictures you've seen of overcrowded Indian trains with people on the roof or hanging on the side.  These these photos show suburban or local trains, or unreserved 2nd class on long-distance ones.  On fast long-distance trains in AC1, AC2, AC3, or AC Chair Class, all passengers have an assigned seat or sleeping berth so there's no overcrowding.  Don't expect pristine western standards anywhere in India, but you'll find AC1, AC2, AC3 and AC Chair class clean by Indian standards, with both western-style and squat toilets usually in a reasonably sanitary condition, see the train interior photos below.  On the other hand, Sleeper Class gets much grubbier than the AC classes and unreserved passengers can sometimes enter the coaches making it crowded.  2nd class unreserved can be incredibly crowded.  Toilets in sleeper class or basic non-AC 2nd class seats can leave a lot to be desired.

Safety & security

Indian trains are safe to travel on, even for families or women travelling alone, and you are unlikely to have any problems.  As in any busy place anywhere, pickpockets operate at the major stations (for example Delhi and New Delhi), so take care.  Oh, and be prepared:  If anyone tells you that your train is cancelled, that the ticket office has closed or has moved to a travel agency across the road, or your pre-booked hotel has burnt down or been abducted by aliens, please politely ignore them, even if they look 'official', to avoid ending up in a travel agency paying for a car and driver at vast expense, or booking their 'alternative' hotel which of course will luckily have a room available.  These are all well-known scams (yawn...) to get travel agency business, usually obvious to any regular India hand, but first-timers have been known to fall for them.

Do Indian trains run on time?

Indian Railways are generally remarkably efficient, but Indian trains do run late, sometimes hours rather than minutes.  To get a feel for it, why not go to either www.trainenquiry.com or www.erail.in and see how late yesterday's Delhi-Jaisalmer Express arrived, or last Thursday's Mumbai-Delhi Rajdhani Express?  At www.erail.in , select the origin and destination that interests you, and bring up the train list.  Now find the train that you want and click on it.  Now select a date and click the 'train running status' button.  It will show you a table of scheduled times and actual times at each station.  Data is only held for the last few days, not weeks or months ago.  At www.trainenquiry.com , you simply enter the train number or name, then select from a list of possible trains.

Alternatively, these examples from my own travels may give you a feel for the likely delay:  Delhi-Varanasi overnight express spot on time, Bombay-Howrah Mail 1½ hours late, Chennai-Mumbai Chennai Express 40 minutes late, Kolkata-Delhi Rajdhani Express spot on time (Rajdhani Expresses get priority and are pretty punctual), Delhi-Agra Shatabdi Express spot on time (Shatabdi Expresses also get priority and are pretty punctual), Jaisalmer-Delhi Express 2 hours late starting and 3 hours late arriving, Delhi-Kalka-Simla Himalayan Queen spot on time, Varanasi-Agra-Jaipur Marudhar Express 50 minutes late, Chennai-Delhi Grand Trunk Express 1½ hours late.

Recharging mobiles & cameras

There are shaver sockets in most AC1/2/3 sleeper cars and many Indian trains now have power outlets for mobiles and laptops.  However, I never travel without an Anker powerbank which can recharge your phone several times over if you're on the move and can't get to a power outlet.

Other Indian train tips

Bring your own toilet paper.  You'll normally find one western toilet and one squat toilet at one or both ends of the car.  In AC1, AC2, AC Chair Class and even AC3 the toilets are normally reasonably clean by Indian standards, and in full working order.  Sleeper Class and 2nd class toilets may be a different matter!

Make sure you research when to visit India carefully - in summer it can be unbearably hot, and you also want to avoid the monsoon rains.  And in January & February in Northern India that there can be major disruption to road, rail & air due to thick fog, so bear that in mind.

Finally, forewarned is forearmed

In India, if someone asks which hotel you're going to, then announces that this hotel has been flooded, burnt down, or abducted by aliens, they are of course trying to get commission from sending you to another hotel - that's often painfully obvious and it's almost funny!  Smile, ignore them, and persist in walking to your own hotel, which will of course be open as usual.  But similarly, especially at big stations such as New Delhi, if an official-looking person (they may even show you a badge) says your train has been cancelled, or says you can't board without a boarding pass (with an e-ticket you can get on the train, there's no such thing as a boarding pass), smile, ignore them, walk past, and persist until you see the actual departure indicators and get your train.  If necessary, go and see the station master!  Although this has never happened to me, there are occasional reports of travellers being conned into buying new tickets from a nearby travel agency, being sent to a nearby travel agency when they wanted the genuine New Delhi foreigners booking office, or being conned into hiring a private car and driver for hundreds of dollars when they already had trains booked, which of course weren't really cancelled.  So smile, ignore, persist, go and see the departure boards with your own eyes, find and get on your train, and have a giggle about it later!  If you encounter any of this, feedback (and a good laugh) is always appreciated!

The 11 classes on Indian trains

There are 11 classes of accommodation on Indian trains or at least, 11 different class codes in the system.  You can argue that 3E is a variation of 3A, EA a variation of EC and that 2S & GN are the same (both are 2nd class seats, one reserved, the other unreserved).  But that's still 8 classes!

Only a small selection of classes is available on any given train, a typical long-distance train might have one AC1 car, one or two AC2 cars, perhaps an AC3 car, then a long line of 6, 7 or 8 Sleeper class cars and maybe one GN or 2S car at the end.  But it varies, of course.

Here are the classes, in roughly descending order of cost, together with the usual 2 & 3-letter abbreviations.  A request:  If you get any clear interior photos of AC2, AC3 or Sleeper class which would better illustrate these classes, please get in touch !

Air-conditioned first class (AC1 or 1A)

Air-conditioned 2-tier (ac2 or 2a).

AC2 is relatively clean & comfortable, with room to spread out.  It's the class typically used by middle class Indian families and a good choice for most western visitors.   AC2 is found on almost all decent long-distance trains including the premier Rajdhani & Duronto expresses.

AC2 offers padded leatherette seats by day which convert to flat padded bunks at night.  AC2 coaches are open-plan with berths arranged in bays of four on one side of the aisle (two upper, two lower, transverse across the car width), and in bays of two on the other side of the aisle, arranged longitudinally along the coach side above and below the windows.  If you're tall, you should book a transverse berth.

Each bay is curtained off for privacy, and an attendant distributes pillows, clean sheets and blankets in the evening.  Update:  Curtains were removed  as a Covid-19 precaution and may still be absent.

Click for car plans & berth numbering in AC1, AC2, AC3, AC Chair, Sleeper Class .

Air-conditioned 3-tier (AC3 or 3A)

AC3 has a similar layout to AC2, but instead of upper & lower berths it has 3 tiers of bunks - upper, middle and lower - arranged in bays of six on one side of the aisle, and longitudinal bays of two - upper and lower - along the wall on the other side of the aisle.  As in AC2, an attendant distributes pillows, sheets and blankets in the evening.  Berths convert to seats for daytime use.

With 3 people sitting on each bench seat during the day rather than just 2, it feels a lot more crowded than AC 2-tier, and at night there is less height-space between each bunk - the top bunks are significantly higher up near the ceiling.  AC3 may lack the privacy curtains and individual berth lights usually found in AC2.  As in AC2, you should avoid the longitudinal berths if you are tall.  Still, if you find AC2 fully-booked, most western travellers will find AC3 an acceptable fall-back.  See car plans & berth numbering in AC1, AC2, AC3, AC Chair, Sleeper Class .  Photos courtesy of Rachel Poschi.

Air-conditioned 3-tier economy (3E)

Executive anubhuti chair car (ea), ac executive chair class (ec).

AC Executive Chair Class is only found on the high-quality Shatabdi Express , Vande Bharat Express & Tejas Express trains.  Seats are arranged 2+2 across the car width, basic pre-packaged food & drink is included in the fare, served at your seat.  It's also known as First AC Chair class.  Seat numbering plan for AC Chair cars .

AC Chair class (CC)

AC Chair class is a good choice for daytime journeys.  Comfortable & air-conditioned, they have seats arranged 2+3 across the car width.  AC Chair Class is found on the Shatabdi Expresses, Vande Bharat Express, the several Tejas Express trains and a number of other inter-city daytime trains, for example Delhi-Jaipur, Delhi-Agra, Delhi-Kalka for Simla.   Seat numbering plan, AC Chair cars .

Sleeper Class (SL)

This is the way the bulk of the Indian population travels on long-distance trains, but it's also used by many more adventurous backpackers who are prepared to take the rough with the smooth.  The majority of cars on a typical long-distance mail or express train will be sleeper class.

Sleeper class consists of open-plan berths, arranged in bays of 6 bunks (upper, middle and lower) on one side of the aisle, and bays of 2 bunks (upper & lower) along the coach wall on the other side of the aisle.  Bunks fold away to form seating for daytime use.  It's the same basic layout as AC3, but without the air-con and without any privacy curtains.  Bedding is not provided, so bring a sleeping-bag.

Sleeper class is found on almost all long-distance trains except for the premier Rajdhani & Duronto services.  Sleeper class can be crowded (although in theory all berths must be reserved, so it can't get overcrowded), and it's fairly grubby and basic.  On the other hand, you get a better view of the countryside then in AC coaches, where the windows are sealed, tinted and sometimes dirty.  In summer, there are fans on the ceiling and a breeze from the windows.  In winter, wrap up warm at night and take a sleeping bag and fleece, as it can get cold.    Berth numbering system, AC1, AC2, AC3, AC Chair, Sleeper Class cars .

1st class (FC)

Traditional non-air-con 1st class has now almost disappeared, as Indian Railways have progressively phased it out in favour of AC 2-tier.  But for the record, ordinary first class consists of non-air-conditioned sleeper coaches with lockable 4-berth and 2-berth compartments, a similar layout to AC1 but without the AC.  Bedding is not provided, and it's much grubbier than AC1, AC2 or AC3 as it's not sealed against the dirt .

2nd class seats (2S = reserved or GN = unreserved)

Open plan cars with wooden or padded plastic seats, sometimes reserved and shown online as 2S, sometimes unreserved and shown online as either GN or II.  Not recommended for long distance overnight journeys (you'll see the huge scrum of Indians all trying to bag a seat in unreserved 2nd class), but quite acceptable for daytime journeys of up to a few hours if you're on a budget.

IndRail pass es:  Discontinued in 2017

Where to go in india.

First-time visitors often wonder where to start in such a vast country and they're sometimes told to tour only a small area, for example stick to Rajasthan or perhaps the beaches of Goa.  But I suggest a bolder approach.  Use the remarkable Indian train network to see a varied cross-section of India's highlights, picking one example from each type of place:  A big city, a colonial hill station, a princely city or two in Rajasthan, then Agra of course for the Taj Mahal, and also Varanasi, the classic Hindu holy city on the Ganges.  This way, you'll see some incredible highlights and complete contrasts, with overnight trains minimising both daytime travelling time and hotel bills.

A suggested itinerary

Here's what I personally consider the best itinerary around Northern India, taking in an amazing variety of classic Indian cities in as little as 2 weeks.  Highlight after highlight in a 2-week itinerary.  If you have longer to spare, add an extra day or two here and there and/or add one more Rajasthani city, Udaipur.

Delhi 1-3 days.  Contrast the bustling old city with Lutyens' gracious New Delhi.

Take the Swatantrta S Express leaving New Delhi at 21:15 arriving Varanasi Junction at 08:05 next morning. AC1, AC2, AC3, Sleeper class.

Varanasi 2-3 days.  Formerly called Benares, Varanasi is the must-see Hindu holy city on the Ganges.  Make sure you stay in a local Indian riverside hotel such as the Hotel Alka , with its terrace overlooking the Ganges.  Western chain hotels are usually located in the new town, well away from all the amazing riverside action.  The Hotel Alka is one of the better hotels in this top riverside location, and eating a Thai on the terrace as the Diwali fireworks went off overhead and Lilly pads with candles drifted down the Ganges was an unforgettable experience.

Take the Marudhar Express from Varanasi Junction around 18:25 arriving Agra Fort at 06:40 next morning. AC2, AC3, Sleeper class.  No AC1.

Agra 2 days, remembering to visit the fantastic deserted royal city of Fatephur Sikhri 30km away by bus or car.  Agra may be the most touristy place in India, but the Taj is utterly beautiful and well worth the tourist tout hassle.  Agra fort and the ‘baby Taj’ are also worth a visit.

Take the Marudhar Express from Agra Fort around 06:45 arriving Jaipur at 11:50 the same day. AC2, AC3, Sleeper class (No AC1).

Jaipur 2-3 days.  The 'Pink City' is one of the most wonderful princely cities in Rajasthan, and indeed in India.

Take the daily Raniket Express leaving Jaipur at 10:10 arriving Jaisalmer at 22:30 the same day, with AC1, AC2, AC3, Sleeper class.

Or the Shalimar Express on Tue, Wed, Fri & Sun leaving Jaipur 17:45 arriving Jaisalmer 05:30 next morning, with AC1, AC2, AC3 & sleeper class.

Jaisalmer 2-3 days.  This is Rajasthan’s ultimate fairytale city and one of the most beautiful cities in the whole of India, in the desert close to the Pakistan border.  For many years it had no airport so only those who made the effort got to experience it, although sadly it may now have flights using the military airbase nearby.

Take the Shalimar Express leaving Jaisalmer at 23:25 on Mon, Wed, Thus, Sat and arriving at Old Delhi at 16:50 next day. AC1, AC2, AC3, sleeper class.  Spend the night in Delhi.

Take the Kalka Shatabdi leaving New Delhi at 07:40 arriving Kalka at 11:40. AC Executive chair class and AC Chair class, meal included served at your seat. Change onto the waiting narrow-gauge Simla toy train leaving Kalka at 12:10 arriving Simla at 17:20 with (non-AC) 1st class, AC Chair class, 2nd class. The journey to Simla by narrow gauge Toy Train is an absolute delight.

Simla 2-3 days.  Cool relaxation and colonial mock-Tudor charm in this lovely Himalayan hill station from the days of the Raj.  The ideal final destination for your trip!  The upmarket colonial-style Clarkes Hotel is wonderful.

Take the toy train leaving Simla at 18:05 arriving Kalka at 22:40. Change onto the mainline Netaji Express leaving Kalka at 23:55 and arriving Old Delhi at 06:00. AC1, AC2, AC3, Sleeper class.

How to book this itinerary

Option 1 is to arrange it all yourself .  First sketch out your itinerary, perhaps using the technique explained here .  Then book each train journey at 12go.asia (hassle-free, although naturally they charge a reasonable agency mark-up) or get yourself registered with IRCTC and book as explained here .  Then book each of your hotels separately using Booking.com .  This is the budget option, if you don't mind the legwork and managing it yourself.

Option 2 is to have it all booked for you, hassle-free .  I've arranged for train specialists Railbookers to offer this exact itinerary as a package, with trains, hotels, transfers (and if you like, your flight to India) all sorted for you.  This costs more than sorting it all out yourself, but it saves a lot of effort (and possible frustration) and as it's then a package, if anything affects one part of the tour Railbookers will sort things out for you.  Their suggested tour can be customised to your own requirements, to spend more or less time in each place.  Railbookers is an ABTA member and holidays including flights are ATOL protected.

  UK call 0207 864 4600, www.railbookers.co.uk . 

  us call free 1-888-829-4775, see website .,   canada call free 1-855-882-2910, see website .,   australia call toll-free 1300 971 526, see website . ,   new zealand call toll-free 0800 000 554 or see website ., alternative versions.

Alternatively, just pick on big city, one hill station, a couple of cities in Rajasthan, and a couple of places from the 'other' list below and create your own itinerary.  How about:  Kolkata - (overnight sleeper train to New Jalpaiguri then the famous Darjeeling Toy Train) - Darjeeling - Varanasi - (overnight sleeper train) - Agra - (daytime train) - Jaipur - (overnight sleeper train) - Kolkata?

The big cities

The royal cities of rajasthan, old colonial hill stations, other places to see, two personal favourites:  a ride to darjeeling.

A personal favourite is the ride to Darjeeling on the narrow gauge Darjeeling Himalaya Railway (DHR), and a night or two at the wonderful Windamere Hotel .  The DHR is now a UN World Heritage Site.

Travel from Kolkata's Sealdah station to New Jalpaiguri (NJP) on the broad gauge Darjeeling Mail, leaving Sealdah at 22:05 and arriving NJP at 08:15 next morning.  The Darjeeling Mail has AC1, AC2, AC3, sleeper class and 2nd class accommodation.  Then take the connecting DHR 'toy train' up to Darjeeling, leaving NJP at 10:00 daily, arriving Darjeeling at 17:30.  It's a long ride on a narrow gauge train, sometimes next to the hill road, sometimes through jungle, and sometimes through the streets.

You can check the current status of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway at www.dhrs.org/page4.html - it has it's ups and downs, if you'll pardon the expression.

Once in Darjeeling, the place to stay is the Windamere Hotel .  Originally a boarding house for bachelor tea planters, it became a hotel in 1939.  Meals are served by white-gloved, turbanned waiters and eaten by candlelight to the sound of Cole Porter tunes on the piano.  Even if you can't afford it, make sure you come along for afternoon tea - probably the best cup of tea you will ever drink.

...and a ride to Simla.

A little bit more robust than the line to Darjeeling, the similar toy train up to Simla in the Himalayan foothills is the way to reach Simla, once India's summer capital.  Take a fast broad-gauge train from New Delhi to Kalka and change there onto the Toy Train up into the hills.  The train ride to Simla is one of Simla's highlights on its own.  If you get the chance, use the Shivalik Deluxe Express on the way back down from Simla (it connects with the overnight express to New Delhi going forward next day to Kolkata).  The Shivalik Deluxe has plush fabric-covered first class armchairs, and a meal is served at your seat, included in the price.  Although it gets dark as you descend, at stations without electricity the signalmen hand the single-line token to the driver whilst holding burning torches, the shimmering flames lighting up the side of the train.  It's wonderfully atmospheric.

Tours of India by train

The cheapest option is to arrange everything yourself, independently, but this takes time and effort.  If you want a customisable itinerary with all your train tickets, up-market hotels and transfers arranged for you, you can do this through train specialists Railbookers.  Their website has various example itineraries including a one-week Golden Triangle one visiting Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, but have a look at the suggested itinerary above covering Delhi, Agra, Varanasi, Jaipur, Jaisalmer & Simla as I think it's the best 2-week itinerary around northern India that you'll find, and I've arranged for Railbookers to offer it.  Railbookers takes good care of their clients and gets very good reviews.

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Escorted tours in India by train

If you'd prefer to travel with a group of fellow travellers escorted by a professional tour guide, check are Great Rail Journeys ( www.greatrail.com , in the UK call 01904 527 120) and Rail Discoveries , www.raildiscoveries.com , 01904 730 727.  Both offer popular escorted tours covering India's 'Golden Triangle' of Delhi, Agra for the Taj Mahal and Jaipur in Rajasthan.  At the time of writing, Great rail Journeys also do an escorted tour covering Delhi, Amritsar for the Golden Temple, Agra for the Taj Mahal, Lucknow, Varanasi on the Ganges and Kathmandu in Nepal, with departures on various dates through the year.

Tourist cruise trains

There are now several luxury cruise trains catering for tourists and offering sightseeing itineraries around Indian cities.  All of these trains are in effect 5 star international hotels on wheels, allowing you to see India in great comfort.

The Palace on Wheels

See www.palacesonwheels.com and see the Palace on Wheels video .  This is India's first and most celebrated cruise train, voted as the world's 4th best luxury train by Condé Nast Traveller magazine.  All suites feature private shower & spotlessly clean toilet, TV & CD player, and the train's two elegant restaurant cars offer both Indian and international cuisine.

Prices range from $2,750 for a 7-night 8-day tour around key cities in Rajasthan such as Jaisalmer, Jaipur, Udaipur & Jodhpur with all meals, off-train tours and on-board accommodation included. 

You can book the Palace on Wheels through recommended train holiday specialist Railbookers who can also arrange flights, hotels and other Indian trains for you.

If you'd prefer to use the Palace on Wheels on an escorted tour with friendly group of travellers and a professional tour guide are available from Great Rail Journeys ( www.greatrail.com , in the UK call 01904 527 120).

Other luxury cruise trains

The Palace on Wheels is no longer the only cruise train in India, and it's not even the best.  Others have sprung up, though prices are sky-high.  Be warned that most of these companies quote a rate per night, not for the whole tour!

Maharaja's Express , see www.the-maharajas.com - See the Maharaja's Express video .  Runs various 3 or 7 night tours from Delhi back to Delhi or between Delhi & Mumbai, via places such as Agra, Jaipur, Varanasi, Lucknow, Khajuraho.  From $3,580 per person.  This train is run by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), originally as a joint venture with Cox & KIngs.  Gets very positive feedback, 'ten out of ten' from one correspondent.  You can now book the Maharaja's Express through train holiday specialist www.railbookers.co.uk .

Royal Rajasthan on Wheels , www.royalsrajasthanonwheels.com - See the Royal Rajasthan on Wheels video .  Offers 8-day (7-night) itineraries with weekly departures from Delhi back to Delhi, stopping at Jodhpur, Udaipur, Ranthambore National Park, Jaipur, Khajuraho & Varanasi.  From around $4,130 per person for two people sharing, $5,775 single occupancy for the least expensive suites.  Has also had great feedback, and can also be booked through www.railbookers.co.uk .

Golden Chariot , www.goldenchariot.org - see the Golden Chariot video .  A luxury train offering weekly departures from Bangalore for a week-long tour to Goa & southern India.

Deccan Odyssey , www.deccan-odyssey-india.com - see the Deccan Odyssey video .  A luxury train offering weekly departures from Mumbai for a week-long tour to Goa, Pune, and the caves at Ajanta & Ellora.

Indian Maharaja , www.theindianmaharaja.co.in .  Offers 8-day 7-night 'land cruises' between Delhi & Mumbai in either direction on various dates between October & April, with stopovers & tours at Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur, Ellora & Ajanta Caves, starting at around $4,095 per person for two people sharing or from $5,229 single occupancy.

These trains can also be arranged through Railbookers.  On their website, select 'Private trains'.

Inclusive luxury train escorted tours

If you'd like a deluxe train-based holiday to India, but would like to do this as part of an organised tour, Great Rail Journeys ( www.greatrail.com ) is a well-known company offering inclusive upmarket escorted tours to India, including the Palace on Wheels or a number of other special Indian 'cruise trains', five star hotels plus flights to/from the UK.  There are a number of different tours available, departing on a range of dates throughout the year.  Check the holiday details online, then call 01904 527120 to book or use their online booking form .  Seat61 gets some commission to help support the site if you book your holiday through this link and phone number.

International trains, buses & ferries

There are international trains to Pakistan & Bangladesh, and buses to Nepal.  Here's a quick summary:

Delhi - Amritsar - Lahore, Pakistan

Take a train from Delhi to Amritsar, there are lots to choose from.  See www.indianrail.gov.in for times & fares. 

Take a bus or taxi the 26km from Amritsar to the India/Pakistan frontier at Atari.  Walk through the border posts to Wagah on the Pakistani side.  You may want to hang around Wagah to see the spectacular ceremony at sunset when the border closes.  Indian and Pakistani guards try to outdo each other with their performances, watched by Indians and Pakistani crowds!

Take another bus or taxi the remaining 20km to Lahore.  Allow plenty of time for this deceptively short journey. 

There used to be a cross-border train, but tension in Kashmir means all India-Pakistan trains are suspended at the moment.

Delhi - Jodhpur - Karachi, Pakistan

A weekly international train called the Thar Express started in February 2006 from Jodhpur to Karachi via the border at Munabao.  But it's currently suspended.

Eastbound:   The Thar Express leaves Karachi every Friday at 23:00, arriving at 'Zero Point' on the Pakistan/India frontier at around 08:00 next morning.  After customs checks, the train goes forward to Munabao on the Indian side, arriving around 11:00.The Indian train departs Munabao at 19:00 after customs formalities, arriving Jodhpur (Bhagat Ki Kothi station) at 23:50 Saturday.

Westbound:   The Thar Express leaves Jodhpur (Bhagat Ki Kothi station, about 4km from the main station) every Saturday morning at 01:00 arriving Munabao at 07:00, leaving Munabao at around 14:30 on Saturdays, reaching Karachi at 02:15 on Sunday morning. 

The sleeper fare from Jodhpur to Munabao/zero point is about Rs170, and from Munabao/zero point to Karachi is about Rs230.  No more information is yet available, but feedback would be appreciated!  The train has one sleeping-car and several economy cars.

Update :  Tension in Kashmir means all India-Pakistan trains are suspended at the moment.

Delhi to Kathmandu, Nepal

It's quite easy, cheap, and an adventure to do this journey overland.  You take an overnight train from New Delhi to Gorakpur, then a bus.  For details, see the Nepal page .

Kolkata to Dhaka, Bangladesh

A new direct train from Kolkata (Calcutta) to Dhaka started in April 2008, see the Bangladesh page .

India to Sri Lanka by ferry

After many years of being cut off from each other (with at least one short-lived attempt to start a ferry service in 2011), a new ferry service started in late 2023, linking Nagapattinam (mainland India) with Kankesanthurai (on Sri Lanka, near Jaffna).

The fast ferry Cheriyapani sails from Nagapattinam (India)  at 07:00 arriving Kankesanthurai (Sri Lanka) at 11:00.

She sails from Kankesanthurai (Sri Lanka) at 13:30 arriving Kankesanthurai (India) at 17:00.

Crossing time 3 hours for the 60 nautical miles.  Service will be suspended during the monsoon season in November-December.

Fare around 8,000 Indian rupees, luggage allowance 40 Kg.

Online booking will be available starting in January 2024, website not yet known.  Until then, call +91 978 987 9971 at least 24 hours in advance. You will be required to send a copy of your passport and visa details via WhatsApp to confirm the booking.

Be careful with e-visas when using this ferry, they will not initially be accepted at these entry points, but may be in future.

India to Burma (Myanmar)

The India/Burma border is closed to foreigners.  It is not possible to travel to Burma overland from India.  For train and river steamer service within Burma, see the Burma page .

India to China

The direct route from India into China is difficult and mountainous, there are no trains, you need some serious permits to be in that part of India, and most if not all border crossings are closed to foreigners.  If you wish to travel this way, do your research before attempting it! 

For most practical purposes, you are better off going from India to Kathmandu in Nepal ( see the Nepal page ), then taking an organised tour from Kathmandu to Lhasa in Tibet ( see the Nepal page ), then a train to Beijing.  For train service within China, including Lhasa to Beijing, see the China page .

Europe to India overland

Europe to india via istanbul, iran, pakistan.

It's possible to travel from Europe to India overland by train and bus via Turkey, Iran & Pakistan, along what in the 1960s & 70s was the hippy train.  However, these days there are serious security problems affecting this route in Turkey, SE Iran & Pakistan.  If you are foolhardy enough to brave these, it takes a minimum of 2-3 weeks and you should consider it as an adventure or expedition rather than a routine way to travel there. 

Administratively, the main issue is getting an tourist visa for Iran - see the London to Iran page for agencies to contact to get one.  Finally, there are major security issues in southeast Iran to be aware of - see the official travel advice for Iran and Pakistan at the British Foreign Office website, www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice .  If you are still interested, see the Europe to India overland page .  I'd suggest planning the trip out carefully before you start to book anything - this may help:  How to plan an itinerary & budget .

Europe to India via Moscow, the Trans-Siberian Railway, Beijing & Lhasa

A safer though somewhat round-about way is London to Moscow by Eurostar and onward trains to Moscow (2 nights, £300, daily departures), Moscow to Beijing via the Trans-Siberian Railway (6 or 7 nights, £500, two per week), Beijing to Lhasa by train (2 nights, £100, daily), then an organised tour by bus from Lhasa to Nepal (7 nights, maybe $400), then bus and train to Delhi .  Again, you may find this helpful:  How to plan an itinerary & budget .  Trains to Russia are suspended due to Covid-19 and now sanctions .

Hotels in India

Personal hotel recommendations, tripadvisor hotel reviews.

www.tripadvisor.com is a good place to find independent travellers' reviews of the main hotels.  It also has the low-down on all the sights & attractions too.

Flights to India

Overland travel by train around India is an essential part of the experience, so once there, don't cheat and fly, stay on the ground!  But if you need a long-haul flight to reach India in the first place.

1)  Check flight prices at Opodo, www.opodo.com

2)  use skyscanner to compare flight prices & routes worldwide across 600 airlines.

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3)  Lounge passes

Make the airport experience a little more bearable with a VIP lounge pass, it's not as expensive as you think!  See www.loungepass.com

For independent travel, the best guidebook to take is either the Lonely Planet or Rough Guide .  I gave Sarah the Lonely Planet and Karen the Rough Guide and we road-tested both of them head-to-head across India.  The result was a tie, with similarly excellent levels of both practical travel information and historical and cultural background.  I personally prefer the Lonely Planet, but Karen preferred the Rough Guide.  Just make sure you take one of these two guides with you..!  If you buy anything at Amazon through these links, Seat61.com gets a small commission to help support the site.

Buy Lonely Planet India at Amazon.co.uk    Buy Rough Guide India at Amazon.co.uk

Alternatively, you can download just the chapters you need in .PDF format from the Lonely Planet Website , from around £2.99 or US$4.95 a chapter.

Also for your reading list

Travel insurance & other tips, always take out travel insurance.

Never travel overseas without travel insurance from a reliable insurer, with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover cancellation and loss of cash and belongings, up to a sensible limit.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheaper than several single-trip policies even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy with Staysure.co.uk myself.  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

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Get an eSIM with mobile data package

Don't rely on WiFi, download an eSIM with a mobile data package for the country you're visiting and stay connected.  Most newer mobile phones can download a virtual SIM card so you don't need to buy a physical SIM, including iPhone 11 & later, see device compatibility list .  Maya.net is a reliable eSIM data retailer with a 4.5 out of 5 Trustpilot rating and a range of packages including unlimited data .

Get a Curve card for foreign travel

Most banks give you a poor exchange rate, then add a foreign transaction fee on top.  A Curve MasterCard means no foreign transaction fees and gives you the mid-market exchange rate, at least up to a certain limit, £500 per month at time of writing.  The money you spend on your Curve card goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.

How it works:   1. Download the Curve app for iPhone or Android .  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to the UK and most European addresses.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app, you can link up to two cards with the free version of Curve, I link my normal debit card and my normal credit card.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, exactly like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance in your own currency onto whichever debit or credit card is currently selected in the Curve app.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I have a Curve Blue card myself, it means I can buy a coffee on a foreign station on a card without being stung by fees and lousy exchange rates, just by tapping the Curve card on their card reader.  The money goes through Curve to my normal debit card and is taken directly from my account (in fact I have the Curve card set up as payment card on Apple Pay on my iPhone, so can double-click my phone, let it do Face ID then tap the reader with the phone - even easier than digging a card out).  I get a little commission if you sign up to Curve, but I recommend it here because I think it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card , they'll give you £5 cashback through that link.

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  W hy you need a VPN

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN encrypts your connection so it's always secure, even on unsecured WiFi.  It also means you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geoblocking which a surprising number of websites apply.  See VPNs & why you need one explained .  ExpressVPN is a best buy with a 4.7 out of 5 Trustpilot ranking which I use myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with expressvpn.com using the links on this page, you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription.  I get a small commission to help support this site.

Carry an Anker powerbank

Tickets, reservations, vaccination records and Interrail or Eurail passes are often held digitally on your mobile phone, so it's vital to keep it charged.  I always carry an Anker powerbank which can recharge my phone several times over if I can't get to a power outlet.  Buy from Amazon.co.uk or from Buy from Amazon.com .

Back to home page

How to Reserve a Train Ticket

How to Find & Board Your Train

Tips for Train Travel in India

India's Scenic Toy Trains

12 Indian Etiquette Don'ts

The Top 10 Indian Stereotypes

Tipping in India

What Does the Head Shake Mean?

9 Challenges You'll Face in India

How to Avoid Culture Shock

Top 5 Monsoon Health Concerns

Voltage Information for India

How to Use Your Cell Phone

How to Say Hello in Hindi

Often Misunderstood Hindi Terms

Hindi Language Books

Most Common Indian Scams

How to Handle Begging in India

How to Spot Fake Indian Currency

What to Buy in India

How to Buy a Sari in India

How to Bargain at Indian Markets

How to Get an Indian Visa

India's Visa Types, Explained

Applying for an E-Visa

India's Climate & Seasons

Monsoon in India

Your Essential Packing List

Things to Buy Before You Go

What to Pack for Monsoon

The Best India Guidebooks

How to Save on Your India Trip

The Top Destinations in India

The Most Iconic Sights in India

Which Region Is Right for You?

India's Top Historical Destinations

Romantic Indian Destinations

India's Top Hill Stations

India's Top National Parks

The Best Beaches in India

India's Best Backpacker Spots

India's Most Spiritual Destinations

The Best Luxury Spas in India

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The Top Things to Do in India

Palaces & Forts in India

India's Best Surfing Beaches

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India's Most Popular Festivals

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The Best Hostels in India

Best Budget Hotels in India

Transport in India: An Overview

India's Major Airports

India's Best Airlines

Domestic Airlines in India

Hiring a Car & Driver in India

Your Intro to Indian Railways

Travel Classes on Indian Trains

Classes of Travel on Indian Railways Trains Explained

Tips to Choose the Class that's Right for You

first train travel distance in india

TripSavvy / Lisa Fasol 

Many different classes of travel can be found on Indian Railways trains, and it can be confusing for those who are unfamiliar with it. Here's an explanation of what can be expected in each class, as well as some tips to help you choose the right class to meet your needs for a comfortable train trip in India .

Unreserved General Class (UR)

Himanshu Khagta/Getty Images

India’s poorest people travel in Unreserved General Class (UR), as well as those who haven't been fortunate enough to secure a ticket in Sleeper Class. Reservations aren’t required and the concept of overcrowding really is taken to a new level. There’s sitting or standing room only, and any spare floor space is occupied by those willing to sleep on it. Most seats are simply wooden benches, although some trains do have padded benches.

  • Comfort Rating: Unreserved Class is not recommended for long distance train travel in India.

Second Seating AC (2S)

Reservations are required in Second Seating, or Second Class (2S). 2S is usually found on daytime intercity trains and is a cheap way of traveling. There are three seats on either side of the aisle, and they don't recline. Most of them are cushioned bench-style seats, although some newer carriages have individual seats. There are no sleeping facilities in this class. Carriages are cooled with fans.

  • Comfort Rating: Bearable for short distance trips if really necessary. However, carriages are often occupied by passengers who don't have reservations. 

Sleeper Class (SL)

AlxeyPnferov/Getty Images

While most of India's middle class used to travel in Sleeper Class, many have now moved up to AC 3. These days, you'll often find people from General Class (who were unable to get confirmed tickets) flooding over into the Sleeper Class carriages. The carriages are divided into open-plan compartments with six beds in each. The beds are stacked vertically in three tiers on either side of the compartments. During the day, the middle beds must be folded down flat against the compartment walls to allow passengers to sit on the lower beds. Two tiers of beds are also located outside the compartments, along the aisle. Fans on the carriage ceiling provide some cooling, and the windows have bars to keep intruders out as they are usually kept open. The bathrooms have both western and Indian style toilets.

  • Comfort Rating: There's no privacy in Sleeper Class, and it's noisy, crowded and dirty (and that includes the toilets). Temperature is also an issue; the carriages can be too hot, or too cold at night in winters. However, some people do prefer to travel in this class so they can interact with Indians from all walks of life, or save money.

Three Tier Air Conditioned Class (3A)

Three Tier Air Conditioned Class, known as 3AC, offers a significant step up in comfort and quietness. The carriages in 3AC are laid out in the same manner as in Sleeper Class. However, the windows are covered with tinted glass that’s unable to be opened, and air-conditioning keeps the carriages cool. Bedding and hand towels are provided to passengers.

  • Comfort Rating: Passengers tend to keep to themselves more in 3AC, but privacy is still severely lacking due to the open plan nature of the compartments. Most importantly, the carriages and bathrooms in usually remain much cleaner than those in Sleeper Class.

Two Tier Air Conditioned Class (2AC)

Two Tier Air Conditioned Class, known as 2AC, attracts India’s upper class travelers. There’s much more space, as there are only four beds in each compartment. The beds are stacked vertically in two tiers on either side. Just like in the other classes, there are also two tiers of beds along the aisle outside the compartments. Bedding and towels are also provided, the same as in 3AC.

  • Comfort Rating: The best thing about 2AC is the added benefit of privacy curtains on the entrance to each compartment, as well as across each of the beds that run along the aisle. The curtains are usually always kept drawn and this class of accommodation is quite devoid of any interaction.

First Class Air Conditioned (1AC)

First Class Air Conditioned, known as 1AC, is found only on the most popular inter-state train routes. The cost is around double that of 2AC and is comparable to that of flying. Compartments have lockable doors, carpet and either two or four beds, stacked vertically in tiers. The beds are wider than other classes. Sheets, pillows, blankets, towels, and room freshener are also provided. 1AC carriages also have better and cleaner bathrooms, plus shower cubicles.

  • Comfort Rating: If comfort and privacy are utmost concerns, choose 1AC. The only problem with 1AC is that it's not possible to specify if you want a two bed or four bed compartment when you book. However, couples are normally allocated accommodations in the two bed compartments, while singles and families are accommodated in the four bed compartments.

Executive Air Conditioned Chair Car (1A)

HeidiFBeal/Getty Images

Executive Class is only found on Shatabdi Express trains, which are premium super fast passenger trains that run between major cities (such as Delhi , Agra and Jaipur), as well as selected Duronto Express trains. It's Indian Railways' version of airline business class. Carriages have only two seats on each side of the aisle. This makes them less crowded, and provides more leg room and luggage space. Better food is also served.

  • Comfort Rating: This class is well maintained, clean, and pleasant for a day trip. However, it costs significantly more than Air Conditioned Chair Car (see below). Some people don't think the price difference is worth it. You may be better of paying a bit extra and flying!

Air Conditioned Chair Car (CC)

Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

Air Conditioned Chair Car carriages (CC) are commonly found on shorter distance Indian Railways trains between major cities, especially those sectors that are frequented by business travelers. The carriages are slightly more crowded than Executive Class. They have three seats on one side of the aisle, and two on the other.

  • Comfort Factor: The seats recline, there is overhead space for luggage, and bathrooms tend to be relatively clean. It's a comfortable enough way to travel on day trips.

Second Class on Jan Shatabdi (2S)

Sharell Cook

Different to normal Shatabdi Express premium trains, the Jan Shatabdi is a budget "people's" train. It has both air conditioned (CC) and non air conditioned (2S) chair classes. Travel in 2S on Jan Shatabdi trains offers perhaps the best value for money on Indian Railways.

  • Comfort Factor: Unlike 2S on other trains, there are no bench seats. All are padded, individual seats. However, they do not recline like the seats in air conditioned CC class, and this gets uncomfortable after a while.

Indian Railways Travel Tip 1: Choosing Your Berth

The beds are referred to as "berths". Where possible, always try to reserve an upper level one. They don't have to be folded down during the day like the middle level ones, or act as seats for all the passengers like the lower level ones.

The beds located along the aisle outside the main compartments (referred to as "side berths") also offer a bit more personal space, and are less claustrophobic. They're great if you're traveling as a couple. However, they are enclosed at both ends and are shorter than the ones inside the compartments. As a result, they're not recommended for people who're taller than around 5 feet 10 inches.

Indian Railways Travel Tip 2: Choosing Your Class

Travel in Sleeper Class is suitable for those on a tight budget, or those who don't mind roughing it or who want to experience the "real" India. If comfort is more of a concern, then travel in 3AC is a better option. For those who require space and/or privacy, 2AC or 1AC is recommended.

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first train travel distance in india

'It's possible to have a 25% growth out of India from now on': Rail Europe Executive Chairman & CEO Björn Bender

B jörn Bender is the Executive Chairman & CEO of Rail Europe, one of the world’s largest distributors of European train tickets. Founded in 1932, the company was acquired by Hivest Capital, an independent French private equity firm, in early 2022. Bender, the face of the organisation, is probably the best ambassador for train travel in Europe. His family is based in Switzerland while the 43-year-old works in Paris, and every weekend, he makes the four-hour journey back home by train, a mode of transport he finds the most convenient. In India, Rail Europe also sells tickets through its partners. In an interview with Business Today’s Krishna Gopalan during his recent visit to India, Bender speaks on the ever-increasing proportion of Indians travelling by train in Europe, the process of choosing newer destinations, and key travel trends. Edited excerpts:

Q: This is not your first visit to India. What are some of the changes that you see?

A: For one, I am not carrying a wallet, nor is there any cash in my pocket. I like travelling short distances by autorickshaw and about five years ago, all payment was made offline. Now, I see the [autorickshaw] drivers with smartphones, checking Instagram. Since I make all my bookings on Uber, I don’t pay 10 times the price, and the experience is very comfortable.

Q: Are most of your ticket bookings on Rail Europe done online today?

A: Yes, digital is a significant change for us. Before the pandemic, it was normal to see passengers with printouts. There is no concept of a [physical] ticket anymore. The more important piece is that our agents selling tickets don’t do it on a desktop but have moved to a cloud-based system.

Q: There’s no fear of losing your ticket?

A: You need to fear only if the phone’s battery runs out! Today, you can book your ticket at the train station, but 95% of people in Europe are buying it off our website or on their mobiles. In countries like Spain and France, reserving a seat is mandatory, and it was a challenge in the past. Doing that online today is a game changer. With one pass, you can move through 35 countries across Europe, giving you complete freedom.

This flexibility is what makes the whole process different. You can get a pass for three days or three months with unlimited travel. Now, the only additional thing is reserving the seat. The pass gives you access to all high-speed trains, ferries and some bus connections too. The objective is to make it simple for the traveller. The rail system in Europe is very complex since there are state-owned companies with their own tariffs. Plus, they don’t sell tickets of other carriers. For example, on the Madrid-Barcelona route, there are five high-speed carriers, and we are the aggregators. As more capacity is added, prices will decrease.

Q: So, it comes down to simplifying the travel experience?

A: We give you the pass. We are the broker, and the tech platform is our asset. On the supply side, there are 200 railway providers. Coming to the demand side, we serve the travel agencies (offline and online), and a vast consumer network. All this has to be done in the easiest possible manner.

The online travel agencies get our inventory and grow the market for us. In markets like Europe, bookings are done through an agent since people travel more frequently. Indians travel less but the duration is longer. Around 90% of them use online travel agencies and the other 10% use our website. We want to grow the business with the B2B guys. They give us access to the market and with one interface, they get the inventory as opposed to dealing with many carriers. This is a real-time process, and they look at the inventory the way we do. The way to do it is to grow together and it does not matter how the traveller makes a booking.

Each market is interesting. In the US, it is dominated by travel agencies and people physically meeting them. We have over 10,000 B2B partners there and in India and China, it is dominated by digital platforms. In Australia, two-thirds of travellers make their booking through travel agencies.

Rail Europe Executive Chairman & CEO Bjorn Bender talks about the India market and the way ahead (Photo: Hardik Chhabra)

Q: What trends are you seeing specifically with reference to Indians travelling to Europe in, say, choice of destinations?

A: The market is continuously changing. In the past, Indians going to Europe would mean going to Switzerland. Maybe a lot of that has to do with films shot there influencing the decision. Beyond that, the preferred destinations would be London and Paris. The big change is a lot of Indians now are looking at the next set of destinations—it could be Vienna, Budapest, the Nordics, or Amsterdam—with the desire to discover new things. For instance, Indians going to Portugal is a reality and we must recognise that. There is a diverse set of travellers from India moving across Europe and that is fascinating. The learning that we pick up from India is invaluable to us.

The Swiss travel pass is still the No. 1 [product] on our list. There is also the London-Paris Eurostar journey that is very popular. Other aspects that Indians like are the ICE and high-speed trains plus the night trains as well. The Top 3 destinations have remained the same, but a beautiful city like Budapest could work very well as a destination for, say, those visiting Europe for the second time.. [they] are a lot more adventurous then.

There are a few other things. Group travel was always big and that is only getting bigger. That is a positive from our point of view since they are constantly looking for new things. Like I said earlier, travelling once gives them more confidence on how to deal with the system and suddenly the desire for newer destinations takes off. It is our job to keep pace with the new trends.

Q: How do you profile the traveller to make sure you make the right product offering?

A: There is a lot of data available, but we must be very careful with that part... Data privacy is a big issue across the world, and we constantly look to pick up interesting trends. That comes from different sources apart from our own market surveys. Many international consultants come out with comprehensive reports, and we also share a lot of information and data with tourism boards. That helps us to verify a lot of data and eventually make a better and more relevant offering to the traveller.

In general, today people are travelling a lot more but on shorter holidays, especially those [travellers] based in Europe. A lot of that has to do with Covid-19 or the ability to work remotely. That means we have people taking time out in the middle of the week. You can take a day off and carry your skiing equipment. In the middle of that, you can also work remotely. That was never the case in the past. That is a very useful insight for us and with what our own team can do on data analytics, it is possible to build on any of the nuggets.

Q: How critical is India as a market today for Rail Europe?

A: India was always in the Top 5 or Top 6. That has changed sharply and today it is the second largest after the US. That means, after the US, on a sales number basis for Rail Europe, we have the second largest number of people visiting Europe from India.

Our belief is that it is possible to have a growth of 25% out of India from now on. India has become the second-largest market [for us] at a time when many countries are struggling. This is a perfect starting point for India to grow even more. While the US is the largest, it is now followed by India and from thereon, it is South Korea, China and Australia. We were founded in the US 90 years ago and that makes the brand very strong there. From India’s point of view, the potential is huge, and we need to build on that.

We sold 5 million tickets last year—of that India was 0.5 million and the US was 1.5 million. Most of the rest came from Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, Australia and the Middle East. I just want to point out here that the Middle East has a small population but becomes very convenient because of very good air connectivity into Europe. It also translates to a huge advantage for India. Europe is a highly preferred destination after the US, Asia and the Middle East. We hope it remains that way for a long time. We are seeing a lot of interest from global travellers on wanting to visit Germany and the Benelux countries.

We customise our package depending on where the traveller comes from. Take the US, where they travel more often on shorter trips. Besides, if you live on the East Coast, getting to Europe does not involve too much flight time. For Indians, travelling to Europe is more family time and could be a holiday or a honeymoon. They tend to stay longer and discover more destinations.

Q: Europe’s rail network is vast and well-connected. But there are also many changes that are taking place to widen the user base…

A: Yes, there is a lot of work that is underway. In the past, not enough was invested and today sustainability has become a big issue. Now, train travel is becoming cool and ‘flight shaming’ is taking place. It is now accepted that trains are a good mode of transport but also calls for big investments from the European Union. Till 2030, just the EU will need to invest $100 billion on train infrastructure. It is a long-term project but will result in more capacity and create a better network.

The demand for train travel is always going to be there. It is supply that needs to be created and good infrastructure will be of great help. The Eurostar (a high-speed rail service in Western Europe) was introduced in the mid-1990s with the London-Paris route. The number of flights then on that stretch was more than 300. Today, we have more people travelling but the number of flights is down to 150. It only shows what takes place when you invest in infrastructure. The preferred mode of travel for the next many decades will be train. In France, there are no domestic flights today from Paris to Lyon, where train travel takes two and a half hours.

We do 5 million tickets today, but that number can really take off. We are at 75% of pre-Covid levels. The potential is huge, and it is all about growth. Tickets are only a part of it and once you add other elements of convenience, the addressable market starts to look much larger. 

@krishnagopalan

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'It's possible to have a 25% growth out of India from now on': Rail Europe Executive Chairman & CEO Björn Bender

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Most scenic train rides in North India

Times of India TIMESOFINDIA.COM / TRAVEL TRENDS , INDIA / Updated : May 17, 2024, 19:28 IST

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Explore North India's scenic train routes including Kalka-Shimla Toy Train and Jammu-Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Railway for breathtaking views of hills, valleys, and historical sites. Don't miss the Pathankot-Joginder Nagar Railw … Read more

Explore North India's scenic train routes including Kalka-Shimla Toy Train and Jammu-Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Railway for breathtaking views of hills, valleys, and historical sites. Don't miss the Pathankot-Joginder Nagar Railway and the Delhi to Vaishno Devi-Katra journey through Himalayan foothills and picturesque landscapes. Read less

Most scenic train rides in North India

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Most scenic train rides in North India

Explore North India's scenic train routes including Kalka-Shimla Toy Train and Jammu-Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Railway for breathtaking views of hills, valleys, and historical sites. Don't miss the ...

first train travel distance in india

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Who is Gopi Thotakura, India's first space tourist? Know more

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A 30-year-old aviator from Vijayawada became the first Indian space tourist on Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin's seventh human flight. Gopi Thotakura, an entrepreneur and a pilot, on Sunday ventured into space as one of the six crew members on Blue Origin's NS-25 mission. He is the second Indian to venture into space after the Indian Army's Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma in 1984. The flight lifted off from Launch Site One in West Texas on Sunday morning, the company announced on social media. This mission was part of the 'New Shepard programme' of Blue Origin and the 25th in its history. To date, the programme has flown 31 humans above the Karman line, the proposed conventional boundary between Earth's atmosphere and outer space. New Shepard is a fully reusable sub-orbital launch vehicle developed for space tourism by Blue Origin.

Who is Gopi? Blue Origin describes Gopi as "A pilot and aviator who learned how to fly before he could drive." He co-founded Preserve Life Corp, a global centre for holistic wellness and applied health located near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. In addition to flying jets commercially, he pilots bush, aerobatic, and seaplanes, as well as gliders and hot air balloons, and has served as an international medical jet pilot. A lifelong traveller, his most recent adventure took him to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. He is also a graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Other crew members of the flight include Mason Angel, Sylvain Chiron, Kenneth L. Hess, Carol Schaller, and former Air Force Captain Ed Dwight, who was selected by President John F Kennedy in 1961 as the nation's first Black astronaut candidate but was never granted the opportunity to fly to space. The rocket booster landed safely a couple of minutes prior to the capsule, CNN reported. During the mission, the crew soared to more than three times the speed of sound. The rocket vaulted the capsule past the Krmn line, an area 100 kilometres above Earth's surface that is widely recognized as the altitude at which outer space begins but there's a lot of grey area, the channel said.

At the peak of the flight, passengers experienced a few minutes of weightlessness and striking views of Earth through the cabin windows, it added. During the flight, each astronaut carried a postcard to space on behalf of Blue Origin's foundation, Club for the Future. This programme gives students access to space on Blue Origin's rockets, including an all-digital method to create and send postcards. The Club's mission is to inspire and mobilise future generations to pursue careers in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) for the benefit of Earth.

Mission after a break From an environmental standpoint, nearly 99 per cent of New Shepard's dry mass is reused, including the booster, capsule, engine, landing gear, and parachutes. New Shepard's engine is fuelled by highly efficient liquid oxygen and hydrogen. During the flight, the only byproduct is water vapour with no carbon emissions, the company earlier said. Jeff Bezos' space company had paused its suborbital tourism programme following a liftoff malfunction of the New Shepard rocket. In September 2022, an uncrewed flight of New Shepard ended in flames around a minute after liftoff. 

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These Compression Socks Helped Me Train My First Half Marathon Pain Free

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The Strategist happens to be full of runners, so this week, we hit the ground running (literally), testing tons of running gear and interviewing experts to give every kind of runner all the intel they might need. Welcome to  Running Week .

The only sport I’ve seriously pursued is running. But every time I’d start a consistent routine, I’d get shin splints after about a week. They were so painful I could barely flex my toes without a sharp pang shooting up my leg. I’ve tried massaging them out, too, but even pressing on the tops of my calves would hurt. I’d simply have to wait it out, and the entire process was discouraging as a newbie.

Two years ago, I picked running back up again. This time, I started out jogging very slowly, which helped keep any pain at bay. Then, last fall, I decided to train for my first half-marathon. That meant longer runs and picking up the pace. Instead of light one- to two-mile jogs I was used to, my training plan had me clocking in at least ten miles a week. Unsurprisingly, my shin splints came back. They were so bad at the beginning of the year that I took an entire week off, because I could barely make it half a mile before those sharp pains returned.

Around this time, I was also researching compression socks for a story. After talking to a running coach about the benefits for athletes, I decided to try out a pair for myself. He explained to me that after high-intensity and long workouts, there’s a buildup of lactic acid in the muscles that causes soreness. Compression socks stimulate blood flow and oxygen to release that buildup. I went with the ones from Bombas because I was already a fan of the its cushiony running socks , and the brand offers socks with a moderate compression level (20 to 30 mmHg), which is ideal for recovery .

Bombas Women's Performance Compression Socks (20-30mmHg)

After one of my Sunday long runs, I did my typical post-run routine: shower, electrolytes , stretching, and vegging out for a couple of hours. I also shimmied on the compression socks. They’re designed to be tightest around the ankles, with some compression around the calves, too. Thankfully, the pressure on my calves wasn’t so much that it exacerbated the pain like when I’d tried massage guns or tennis balls in the past. Instead, it felt like my calf muscles were hugged tightly without feeling too constrictive. I kept the socks on for the rest of the afternoon — about four hours — and took them off right before bed. The next morning, the best way I can describe how my legs felt was refreshed. Sure, there was still some soreness, but not as much as I was used to after a long run.

The next day, on my easy run, I was able to run pain-free. That’s when I realized the compression socks were actually helping me recover faster. Usually, it would take me at the very least two days to get back on my feet post-long run. And even then, I would expect shin splints at some point during my easy run. The socks quickly became a must in my recovery tool kit . After every long run (and even some of my shorter runs), I would slip them on for a couple of hours for relief. Because of my Bombas, I was able to stay on track with my training schedule and finish my first half-marathon feeling strong.

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  1. How was India’s first railway line built and opened in 1853?

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  2. April 16, 1853: First Railway Line Opened In India

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  4. Rail travel in India

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  2. India's first passenger train journey

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COMMENTS

  1. History of First Passenger Train in India

    16 April, 1853 the first passenger train covered the historic distance between Bori Bunder in Mumbai and Thane. The experimental distance was 34 kms with the aid of three locomotives Sahib, Sindh, and Sultan. The 21 minute journey set off a milestone with the passenger train commemorating 160 years of seamless travel.

  2. Great Indian Peninsula Railway

    On 16 April 1853 at 3:35 pm, the first passenger train of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway left Boree Bunder station in Bombay (present day Mumbai) for Tanna (present day Thane). The train took fifty-seven minutes to reach Tanna. It covered a distance of 21 miles (33.8 km).

  3. A History of Indian Railways

    The history of Indian Railways dates back to over 160 years ago. On 16th April 1853, the first passenger train ran between Bori Bunder (Bombay) and Thane, a distance of 34 km. It was operated by three locomotives, named Sahib, Sultan and Sindh, and had thirteen carriages. The photo to the right, while capturing a scene from the early days of ...

  4. India's first train journey was made 171 years ago, today: Story, image

    On April 16, 1853, Indian Railways launched the first passenger train, travelling 34 km from Bori Bunder to Thane. Sahib, Sultan, and Sindh were the three locomotives that drove its 13 carriages. The day has been observed as Indian Rail Transport Day ever since. In a post on X, the Central Railways said, "In 1853, exactly 171 years ago today, India marked a significant milestone in ...

  5. Rail transport in India

    Eastern India's first passenger train ran 39 km (24 mi) from Howrah, near Kolkata, to Hoogly on 15 August 1854. The construction of 97 km (60 mi) line in the South between Royapuram in Madras and Arcot started in 1853, which became operational on 1 July 1856. The ... enabling the train to travel at a top speed for longer distance.

  6. History of Indian Railways from 1853 to Present

    Introduction of Passenger Railways and Expansion (1853-1924) 1853. On 16 April, the first train in India leaves Bombay (now Mumbai) for Thane. It was dedicated by Lord Dalhousie. The train ...

  7. The 1846 plan for India's first Railway line

    Dr. Alex Johnson. India's first railway opened in 1853, a 32 km line between Bombay and Thane. However, there was an earlier plan to build a line from Calcutta to Delhi, and this rare map from 1846, which helped hail the rise of Modern India, was prepared for the East India Railway Company's initial survey. Map of the East Indian Railway (1846 ...

  8. 171st Anniversary Of India's First Passenger Train

    The first passenger train in India ran between Bori Bunder (now Mumbai CST) and Thane, covering a distance of 34 kilometers. Image: @Central_Railway/X.

  9. This day that year

    The top speed of passenger trains varies, with the Vande Bharat Express running at a peak speed of 180 km/h. In 2021-2022, it generated Rs 196,128 crore in revenue. The number of employees in ...

  10. Today in Transportation History

    The first passenger railway train in eastern India (at the time under the rule of the British East India Company) steamed out of the present-day city of Howrah at 8:30 a.m. for the city of Hooghly. The trip took a total of 91 minutes. This segment of the East Indian Railway Company - ultimately known…

  11. History of India's first passenger train

    India's first passenger train ran on this day, 168 years ago. On April 16, 2021. On April 16, 1853, the Indian subcontinent saw its first ever passenger train journey. Four hundred lucky guests had signed up for a historic trip from Mumbai's Bori Bunder to Thane in Maharashtra, on a train run by the Great Indian Peninsula Railway ...

  12. Life Aboard the Longest Train Ride Through India

    While rail travel may be slow by contemporary standards, when India's first train traversed 21 miles from Bombay to Thana in April 1853, it was a triumph of engineering and criticized for the ...

  13. History of the First Train In India

    1853-1924: Passenger Railways and Expansion. 1853. The first train in India departs Bombay (now Mumbai) towards Thane on April 16th. The train was pulled by three steam locomotive engines, Sahib, Sindh, and Sultan, and had 14 carrriages. It covered around 34 kilometres and transported approximately 400 people. 1854.

  14. Today is 165th anniversary of India's first train

    The first railway budget was presented in 1925. On 3 February 1925, the first electric passenger train in India ran between Victoria Terminus (VT) and Kurla. It was exactly on this day 165 years ago that the first passenger train ran from Bombay to Thane for around 34 kilometres. First passenger train.

  15. India's first train ran from Mumbai to Thane in 1853

    The first train on the Indian sub-continent ran from Bori Bunder in Mumbai to Thane at 3.30 pm on April 16, 1853. The 14-carriage train carried 400 guests and covered a distance of 34 km.

  16. Indian Railways Marks 171st Anniversary Of First Train Journey From

    Indian Railways started the first passenger train on April 16, 1853, from Bori Bunder to Thane covering a distance of 34 km. Offbeat Edited by Ritu Singh Updated: April 16, 2024 3:56 pm IST. India ...

  17. 16th April

    19866. 1. The inauguration of 21-mile long railway line took place on Saturday 16th April 1853 from Bombay to Tannah (now Thane) getting the salute of 21 guns. First train in India and even in Asia, with 14 carriages and carrying 400 enchanted guests steamed out of Bori Bunder, pulled by two black monster-like engines at 3.30 p.m.

  18. Indian Railways

    The first rail coaches were manufactured in India from 1956 when the Integral Coach Factory was established at Madras. In 1956, the first air-conditioned train plied between Howrah and New Delhi. In 1957, Indian Railways adopted 25 kV AC traction with the first runs beginning in December 1959 with the WAM-1 locomotives.

  19. Train travel in India

    Around India by train. The best way to see India is at ground level on the incredible Indian railway system, not from 35,000 feet. Experience the bustle of Indian railway stations and a comfortable journey on an Indian express train with the tea seller's cry of Chai, chai, garam chai wafting down the aisle. Forget media images of crowded local trains with people sitting on the roof.

  20. Indian Railways Classes of Travel on Trains (with Photos)

    Comfort Rating: Unreserved Class is not recommended for long distance train travel in India. 02 of 09. Second Seating AC (2S) Fredderric Soreau/Getty Images. ... First Class Air Conditioned, known as 1AC, is found only on the most popular inter-state train routes. The cost is around double that of 2AC and is comparable to that of flying.

  21. Top 10 Longest Train Routes in India

    1. Vivek Express - Dibrugarh to Kanyakumari. Distance Covered: 4,273 kilometres. With a running time of 82 hours 45 minutes (3.5 days) and about 56 scheduled stops, the Vivek Express covers the ...

  22. 'It's possible to have a 25% growth out of India from now on': Rail

    B jörn Bender is the Executive Chairman & CEO of Rail Europe, one of the world's largest distributors of European train tickets. Founded in 1932, the company was acquired by Hivest Capital, an ...

  23. Vivek Express

    This too, is a weekly train, numbered 19567/19568. It connects Okha, Gujarat (which is the westernmost tip of India) to Thoothukudi, the "Pearl City", in Tamil Nadu in South India.This train covers 3043 km in 54:25 hours. It travels through the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.. This train is also religiously important, as it joins two places of ...

  24. KSRTC's superfast premium AC bus set to begin trial run

    The superfast premium air-conditioned bus launched by the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) will begin its trial run soon. After the test run, the performance of the vehicles will be evaluated, and necessary changes will be made before deploying the vehicles in service. The 40-seater bus has pushback seats except at the rear.

  25. Most scenic train rides in North India

    Budgam-Banihal-Budgam, Jammu and Kashmir. The Budgam-Banihal-Budgam Special train covers a 90 km distance in 1 hour and 55 minutes. This special Vistadome Coach is operated and maintained by ...

  26. Ooty train service suspended as rocks fall on track: Details

    Indian Railways on Saturday suspended train services on Ooty's Nilgiri Mountain Rail Route as rocks slid onto its track in Mettupalayam. The incident happened near the Kallar station of the service. Authorities said that the service would resume after clearing the debris from the track. Nilgiris collector had earlier requested tourists to defer ...

  27. Longest train services of Indian Railways

    Train name/No. Distance No. of stops Frequency Scheduled running time Ref 1 Dibrugarh: Kanniyakumari: 22503/22504 Dibrugarh-Kanyakumari Vivek Express: 4,154.1 km 58 5 times weekly 75 hrs 30 min (~3 days 3 hours 30 minutes) 2 Silchar: Thiruvananthapuram Central: 12507/12508 Thiruvananthapuram-Silchar Aronai Superfast Express: 3,915.5 km 57 ...

  28. Who is Gopi Thotakura, India's first space tourist? Know more

    A 30-year-old aviator from Vijayawada became the first Indian space tourist on Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin's seventh human flight. Gopi Thotakura, an entrepreneur and a pilot, on Sunday ventured into space as one of the six crew members on Blue Origin's NS-25 mission. He is the second Indian to venture into space after the Indian ...

  29. Bombas Performance Compression Socks Review 2024

    Bombas Women's Performance Compression Socks (20-30mmHg) $36. $36 at Bombas. After one of my Sunday long runs, I did my typical post-run routine: shower, electrolytes, stretching, and vegging ...