India’s state-owned train network, Indian Railways, is huge. Its tracks total over 64,000 kilometers and there are more than 7,000 train stations across the subcontinent. Many tourists and expats claim that the best way to see India is by train, because it is so extensive and because the fares are very affordable.
There are ten classes for passenger trains. Of most interest to expats are: First Class AC, the most expensive class complete with air conditioning, privacy, bedding, and carpets; 2A, air conditioned coaches with sleeping berths for six, bedding, curtains, and reading lamps; AC three tier, air conditioned sleeping berths without lamps or curtains; and CC, an air conditioned coach with five seats to a row, meant for day travel.
Tickets are inexpensive and can be booked online at the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) website. Book well in advance because trains fill up quickly.
Mumbai Local Trains
Mumbai’s suburban railway is a major means of transport for Mumbaikars. Each day, nearly seven million commuters use Mumbai’s local train service. The trains are reliable and fast, but most expats do not use trains in Mumbai because they are extremely crowded and sometimes dangerous. It is not uncommon to see articles in the newspaper about deaths from people falling out of or being pushed from commuter trains.
Foreigners usually opt for first class coaches, which are cheap by western standards. There are highly recommended separate compartments for women in first and second class.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), commonly called Victoria Terminus (VT), is the main train station and a World Heritage Site. The train network has four main lines:
- Western Railway: From Churchgate to Virar
- Harbour Route: From VT to Panvel via Navi Mumbai and VT to Andheri
- Central Railway: From VT to Khopoli or Kasara
- New Bombay Route: From VT to Vashi or Panvel
When do trains operate?
Local Mumbai trains run from 3:30 am – 1:00 am. Check the train schedule online in English at http://www.go4mumbai.com/
How much do tickets cost?
Traveling by commuter trains in Mumbai is inexpensive. A first-class ticket one-way from Andheri to Bandra costs just Rs 52. A second-class ticket costs Rs 4.
Where can I buy a train ticket?
You can buy tickets and passes at any train station’s ticketing counter.
Are there monthly passes for commuter trains?
If you plan to use the train frequently, then buy a train pass for unlimited traveling on all of the lines. Passes are available for one day, three days, five days, one month, and three months. Commuter passes can be bought at any train station.
Can you buy tickets on board?
Can I buy tickets online?
Unfortunately, you cannot purchase tickets or passes online.
Do you have validate your ticket before boarding?
Yes, you must stamp your ticket for validation before boarding the train. You can save yourself time and hassle by buying a booklet of tickets from the train station and then pre-stamping them according to your destination. You can either use red ticket stamping machines or rubber stamps at ticketing counters, both located at any train station.