The best way to experience travelling across India is on board its railways. The images portrayed of overcrowded trains complete with people sitting on the roof is far from reality. Long distance express trains are air conditioned, safe and civilised - a really comfortable way to get around. To learn more about rail travel within India, read the guide below.
Types of trains
India has over 63,000 km of railways and more than 6,800 stations, making it the third biggest in the world. Indian railways is also the world's biggest employer with over 1.5 million staff on its payroll. The trains go just about everywhere in India. Train times
The departure times and fares of trains can be found at the website run by Indian railways with plenty of additional information on rail travel within the country. Long journeys
By taking the train overland, it is a much cheaper alternative than flying and often more time effective than taking a flight. Take an overnight sleeper to your next destination saving yourself the price of a night's accommodation. Eight classes of trains
There are an astonishing eight classes of trains operating on Indian railways, although not all classes operate on all trains. They range from air conditioned first class in two or four berth cabins to wooden seats that have no reservation system. For long distance trains, the sleeper class is perhaps the best way to travel, particularly for those on a budget.
Passes and luxury travel
Some trains can be fully booked weeks in advance. There is a special tourist quota designed especially for foreign visitors. An IndRail pass will enable you to pre-book your train journeys before you even arrive in the country. They can be bought for as little as half a day up to 90 days duration. Where to buy them?
Indrail passes can be bought in India, most main railway stations sell them. They are also on sale in the UK, Malaysia, Finland, Germany and South Africa. The UK agency will sell passes to residents of the USA, Canada, Australia or New Zealand.
There are several luxury train tours or ‘cruise trains’ operating for tourists and giving sightseeing excursions within their itineraries. These trains are effectively 5-star hotels on wheels. Rates
Prices are equivalent to 5-star prices of Western countries and tours range from 2 days to 12. All meals and excursions are included and cabins come complete with TV and CD player. Many of the companies quote a price. However, this price refers to per night accommodation and not for the duration of the tour.
Indian railways website - Indiarail.gov.in
UK agency for IndRail passes - Indiarail.co.uk