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What Are Indian Trains Like?


India has one of the world’s largest networks of railways, employing over 1.4 million people. Given sufficient time, you can travel between most destinations by train, and in many ways it’s a great way to interact with people. But what’s it really like?

As with Indian society, trains have a myriad of different classes – eight in total, though not all will be available on the same train. AC1 consists of two or four berth private cabins with air conditioning (though this might just be a fan whirring away). You’ll likely be sharing with bank managers and the better off from Indian society; this class tend to be available only on the most important routes. AC2 consists of two tiers of open plan bunks, again with air conditioning, with your fellow passengers likely to be the middle class. As it’s open plan it is a little noisier but it’s easier to get to chat to people. The other classes tend to be pretty crowded, without air conditioning, and are only recommended for the adventurous.

Trains are clean, though not spotless. Toilets are reasonable in AC1 and AC2, and generally consist of a squat toilet at one end of the carriage and a western toilet at the other end.

Food on board is surprisingly good – and cheap, though it’s best to stick to vegetarian options. There’s generally a regular procession of chai wallahs (tea sellers) and people selling snacks.

All in all – taking one or two journeys by train is highly recommended as part of any trip to India. If you don’t fancy spending a night on a train, there are usually options for day/local trains.

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Check out our India pages for details of what do and see, and itinerary ideas. All our trips are private and can be tailor-made to your requirements and dates; a train journey can be incorporated into most itineraries. To speak to someone in the TravelLocal office, please call +44 (0) 117 325 7898.

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