Delhi has one commuter train, known as the Ring Rail, but it only operates in rush hour traffic and is rarely taken by anyone other than very poor residents of the city. It’s crowded, slow, and not recommended for expats, and there are talks of abandoning the service all together.
India’s national rail, Indian Railway, is much more useful. Trains connect the country’s major cities and are affordable and easy to book. Most trains offer AC and non-AC carriages, and the AC carriages are much nicer and more comfortable. Fares vary, but are all very affordable. A first-class ticket on a super-fast train from Delhi to Mumbai costs around Rs. 3,000 (meals included).
Train classes and Class Codes (in parentheses)
- First AC (1A) – The most comfortable way to travel, usually four wide berths in a semi-private cabin. Bedding included.
- Second AC (2A) – A popular, more affordable class. Four berths plus two side berths in an open carriage. Bedding included.
- Third AC (3A) – The most affordable AC sleeping class. Six berths plus two side berths in an open carriage. Bedding included.
- AC Chair Car (CC) – Popular for short-distance trains, seats in air-conditioned compartments. Meals and water included.
- Sleeper (SL) – The most affordable sleeper class, most younger expats are usually fine with this, but anyone over 25 generally prefers a more comfortable class. No AC or bedding provided and sometimes not that clean.
Train schedules, fares, seat availability, and route maps are available at the Indian Railway’s main site: http://www.indianrail.gov.in
Indian Railway tickets can be booked at most travel agents or online at the following two sites (both in English) for a small fee: