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Indian Rail/Railways are one of the largest in the world. Know more about Railways & train travel in India.

Indian Railways

Indian RailFor tourists visiting India for the first time, train travel in India will be a thrilling experience. Railways in India are the cheapest modes of inter city travel. India has the second largest railways network in the world with the railway tracks covering a total distance of 63,140 kilometers (approximately). India's varied landscapes are best enjoyed in a train. The smell of burning wood and coal in villages, the lush green fields, the bunch of village kids running with train waving out to the passengers is an experience in itself. One can book tickets at the "booking office" at the station. Usually, there is a separate window catering to foreign tourists. You can seek assistance from the cops who keep vigil on the platforms. Buy a ticket before boarding the train, you can't buy one on the train. Given below are some tips for making your train travel a nice experience.

Coaches and Comfort
The trains catering to inter city travel have many coaches starting from the first class to the unreserved category. The ones that are recommended for extremely comfortable travel are the first class, A/C class and second class A/C. You will be provided with bedding for the night, which will be promptly taken away early morning! Your company would be wealthy tourists, bureaucrats and politicians who fear flying. You will miss out on the varied countryside views and smells as the windows are heavily tinted. Then comes the second-class sleeper, which should be your option if you want to truly experience the rural India. However, no bedding is provided and it is better if you eat before catching the train. Your company would families and individuals like students, who will be always ready to help you in case you have a trouble.

The toilets on trains are usually clean, but using them is no less than an art. It is an experience in its own way. The train will be chugging at its full speed and balancing yourself on the seat is not an easy task. Most people prefer the Indian style of the toilet, as no one is keen on sitting on anything in the bathroom! The floors are mostly wet due to leaking water. Be careful with your important articles like passports, watch, purse, etc. which may slip out of your hand and go down that small hole on the floor. Do not take out your contact lenses or any form of jewellery while in the toilet. It is best if you wear minimal jewellery on train and use spectacles instead of lenses.

Personal Safety
For your own safety, we would say that you do not try any of those acrobatic movements that most people seem to do with perfection on the train. These include swinging out of the train when it reaches a platform, step out on the platform while the train is still moving, or simply stand on the doorway while the train runs at full speed. No one will stop you from doing these things and they may sound like fun, but you will be responsible for your own injuries. If you have to stand on the doorway, make sure you hold on to something that is sturdy. All doorways have strong handles right outside the entrance. A better option would be to sit instead of stand. Also, the doors are usually heavy and tend to sway while the train is moving. You may be pushed off the train by these doors if you are not careful.

Lock your zipper bags securely with little padlocks that are available on the station or any general store in a city. Every seat is provided with a round metal hook below. You are supposed to tie up your baggage on that hook with a metal chain that most hawkers sell on the station. Keep an eye on your baggage and never leave it unattended. If you are traveling alone, make sure you know your fellow travelers well in case you need to go to the restroom. There is a cloak room available in the stations where you can store your main baggage at affordable rates, take a shower and head out to travel the city for a day. Come back in the evening and take out your baggage. It is very convenient for tourists who are exploring a particular place for a day.

Most trains offer meals for the passengers. With an exception of super fast trains and special train services, the food quality in other trains is not upto mark. Most passengers bring food packed from their homes to avoid eating the meals provided on train. The safest bet is to eat packaged food from stations. This may include fruit-cakes, biscuits, unpeeled fruits, etc. However, the hot beverages served on trains like tea and coffee are pretty good. Try to get food packed from a good restaurant if you are going to travel more than one night. If it is just an over nigh travel, try to eat something before you board the train.

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