The Indian railway is one of the largest employer, as well as the largest railway network under one management system, in the world. It offers a vast network that connects between all major cities, as well as reaches most popular tourist destinations.
The quality, and thereby price, of train trips varies widely. Lower fares typically mean poorer service and longer trip times, while routes such as Shatabdi (connecting Bangalore to Mysore and Chennai) offer excellent service, air conditioned seating and meal service, and are almost always on time.
Long distance routes are often reserved weeks in advance (sometimes months in advance for travel during holiday times) while shorter popular routes require only a couple of days of advance booking. Tickets can be booked at any railway station or (more easily) online, either direct from Indian Railways (http://www.indianrail.gov.in) or (most easily) from Make My Trip (http://www.makemytrip.com/railways/).
Bangalore has two main train stations: Bangalore Central or City Juntion (SBC) and Bangalore Cantonment (BNC). Not all trains leave from Bangalore Cantonment so be sure to check which station your train is leaving from. While booking tickets you will also be required to select a class. ‘AC’ (air conditioned) classes, whether 1st, 2nd, or 3rd class (ie. 1AC), are generally most comfortable for longer distances and offer a reserved berth (only two beds in 1st class, two tiers of berths in 2nd place, and three levels in 3rd), while AC chair cars are best for daytime short distances (under six hours). A one-way trip from Bangalore to Mysore could cost anywhere from Rs 50 – 600 and take from two to five hours, depending on the rail line. A printed ticket is required so be sure to print your e-ticket reservation, and to book as much in advance as possible.
Local trains between smaller cities and towns are generally cramped and without air-conditioning. These trains pass through smaller stations, stopping at every little station along the route, and reserved seating is rarely applicable (or enforced). Conditions do not meet most standards an expat would be accustomed so booking a main line is recommended.