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International Railroad Discussion > Rail Travel in India


Date: 04/09/17 19:27
Rail Travel in India
Author: lowerberth

I have a friend who asked me what I knew (which is nothing) about rail travel in India for an upcoming trip.  One thought they had was to follow the path of the Royal Rajasthan on regular trains.   Any advice or useful resources to be able to find other ideas, schedules, tips, bookings?  Thanks in advace.  The itinerary is completely open at this point.



Date: 04/10/17 03:14
Re: Rail Travel in India
Author: Hartington

How much previous experience of India does your friend have?



Date: 04/10/17 03:31
Re: Rail Travel in India
Author: andersonb109

From recent experience, first class accommodations sell out months in advance. Our guide purchased them for us so I can't offer any advice in that regard but I believe there is a web site where tickets can be purchased on line. Be prepared for everything to be chaotic, crowded, filthy (although the train cars were reasonable clean), and a huge bureaucracy involved in doing just about everything including checking into a hotel.  A good source for you might be "the man in seat 61." Google it. He provides schedules for main services and how to buy tickets.



Date: 04/10/17 06:27
Re: Rail Travel in India
Author: lowerberth

First time to India, but is adventurous.

Posted from iPhone



Date: 04/10/17 11:42
Re: Rail Travel in India
Author: sums007




Date: 04/10/17 17:00
Re: Rail Travel in India
Author: dwatry

I've traveled several times in India by rail.  One option is to use Cleartrip

https://www.cleartrip.com/trains

Or I've used a Delhi travel agent who has always gotten me the tickets I wanted.    If you PM me I'll give you his contact info. 



Date: 04/11/17 07:20
Re: Rail Travel in India
Author: Hartington

India is wonderful place but it can be very hard work.   About the only place you'll get privacy is in your hotel and on occasions that means your room not the rest of the building.

People will stand and watch you.   They will try and talk to you about nothing in particular - they just want to try their English.   They will try and sell you all sorts of things you don't want.   As soon as one person gives up another starts up.   I wanted to go for a stroll around the Cantonment in Varanasi and I was shadowed by a rickshaw wallah offering his services until I stopped and sent him away.   I had to stand and watch him go while he kept glancing back hoping I would change my mind - all I wanted was a stroll on my own.

Some trains have a few seats/sleepers reserved especially for foreigners.   A few major city stations have special reservation/ticket offices for foreigners.   Otherwise all bets are off and major league queueing and paitience are requirements.   Don't expect efficiency; you may be lucky and you might not.   Once you have your ticket and reservation (not all trains are reservable in which case it's every man for himself) find the train and then find the bogie (carriage) by its' running number.   On the outside of each carriage, by the door, there will be a list of place numbers and names, find yours and go and pick your accommodation.   Bedding rolls come out at night.   Men come down the train taking orders for the neat meal; the order is wired ahead and arrives at your seat.   Remember that in some parts vegetarianism is normal.   Vendors come down through the trains selling almost anything.

India is an odd mixture of wealth and poverty.   Lots of new cars, people sleeping on the streets.   Beggars, Bentleys.   Pollution in cities is a real issue.



Date: 04/11/17 12:06
Re: Rail Travel in India
Author: andersonb109

I didn't encounter any of the issues described above except at the tourist sights. We were mostly left alone. Perhaps because we were mostly in the extreme north of the country near Darjeeling attitudes are different? Once near the Nepal boarder, we noticed locals looking far more Oriental than Indian. 



Date: 04/12/17 06:40
Re: Rail Travel in India
Author: lowerberth

Thanks everyone for this info - very helpful!

Posted from iPhone



Date: 04/12/17 23:35
Re: Rail Travel in India
Author: 86235

I've spent many happy hours wandering around Indian railway stations taking pictures and not been bothered, by officials, beggars or salesmen / women.

We booked our trains through our travel agent in the UK, most have been various permutations of AC (air conditioned) class. But last time, Jan 2016, to get from Jaipur to Bikaner at a reasonable hour we had to ride the Leelan Express which is second class only, but with what Indian Railways call a Chair Car, which is reserved second class. I was a tad apprehensive about travelling second class, but I needn't have been it was fine, albeit a bit dusty. Crowded to start off with by the time we reached Bikaner, about 10:30 pm, it was about 60% full with room to stretch out.



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