Standard Passenger Trains
Most people are pleasantly surprised by how uncrowded and comfortable travelling by 1st or 2nd Class standard passenger train can be in India. There are no private compartments and the carriages may be rather dated and could sometimes be cleaner, however we use the best available class on each train and you will always have a reserved seat or berth. Shorter inter-city journeys will be in seated air-conditioned carriages (1st or 2nd Class air-con chair car). Longer overnight journeys are in air-conditioned sleeper carriages (AC1 or AC2) where attendants distribute pillows, sheets and blankets in the evening.
There are no restaurants or buffet cars on Indian Railways but on long distance trains you can order food on board. Vendors will also pass through the train or sell their wares through the window at stations. Both western-style and squat toilets, usually in a reasonably sanitary condition, are available on all trains.
Premium Passenger Trains
On some routes, Intercity Express trains are available. These typically offer a more premium service – faster journeys, fewer stops and reclining seats with more leg room. Usually an airline style meal is included and served at your seat.
Indian Railways are slowly introducing modern High Speed trains to their network, some with touch screen seat back TVs and free wi-fi. These trains are capable of speeds of up to 130mph but typically travel at around 80mph.
The most popular services are the Gatiman Express between Delhi and Agra, with a journey time of just 1 hour 40 mins and the Tejas Express between Mumbai and Goa (8-9 hours), which is the fastest train operating in India at the moment.
India boasts a number of narrow gauge mountain railways. Lauded as engineering marvels and deserving of their UNESCO World Heritage status, these 'toy' trains have climbed the Indian hills for over a hundred years. Whilst a trip on one of these trains provides a wonderful taste of nostalgia, the bench style seats and lack of facilities can mean they are never the most comfortable of journeys. We therefore recommend they are only done one way and, where possible, we offer a shorter journey option, so you join the 'toy' train for just a couple of hours on the most spectacular part of the ride.
The most popular of these charming trains are the Kalka-Shimla Railway which winds its way up to the verdant foothills of the Himalayas and the Nilgiri Mountain Railway which serves the picturesque hill station of Ooty.
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