On the way by the Indian train

Step-by-step description of how to find your seat when boarding the train

indischer Zug

After six years in India, I have already covered a good distance with the Indian Railway.

The train ticket

Even if it is not so easy to get a train ticket first of all, traveling by train in India is time-saving, cheap and authentic.

Indien Zug

Please book trains as much in advance as possible and then preferably in a tourist spot with an agent. The 100 rs extra commission is a good investment, because you save the long queue at the station.

However, if the desired connection is fully booked (especially on Indian holidays, you often have no chance), then you can still be lucky via the so-called tourist quota and get one of the few tickets reserved for tourists at the tourist counter. However, this requires a tourist visa. Booking train tickets online is a headache you should not get into!

On the Indian Night Train

Most of the time, you travel long distances overnight and thus save not only valuable travel days, but also overnight stays in the hotel. Depending on your budget and disposal, you can book different classes of your choice and then either just have a bed in the coach with open windows, or even bed linen, including pillows and blanket in the air-conditioned compartment.

indischer Zug

Depending on the train, the food is included in the price or not. If not, rail workers still come by and sell food  for little money in the train or you buy something at the stations. Especially on a train ride across India, the latter can be interesting, because at each station other regional specialties are prepared. Water, juice, tea or coffee can be found anywhere and at any time, either in the train or at the train station.

Zug Indien

In addition, “illegal sellers” come by with padlocks, card games, books, soap and other cheap items. Some are very useful, such as the paper soap (small paper sheets with soap, which you then throw away immediately).

Different train classes

There are a wide variety of train classes, which differ greatly in terms of price and equipment. You can read more about the topic “Train classes” here.

In “cheaper” train compartments you will also find many beggars who walk through the train, board at one station and leave at the next. In this case it isworth always having some small coins with you.

The standard of trains has improved in recent years. In the meantime, there are even filled soap dispensers in the bathrooms and garbage bins in the train. But you can never be sure about both of them. Again, it depends on the train and compartment.

Soap dispenser

There is also a in-the-train cleaning team, which ensures the necessary cleanliness in the bathrooms during long train journeys, as well as a service team that comes by with tea, drinks and a variety of snacks and dishes. These dishes are hygenic, ok in taste and inexpensive.

Eine der 4 Toiletten pro Abteil
One of the 4 toilets per compartment

The trains are usually relatively punctual and you can sleep relatively well. In addition, you travel like a local with the Indians – so there is also a lot to watch and experience, often you are the only foreigner in the compartment and get lot of attention yourself.

On the train from Delhi to Haridwar

By the way, I am currently on the train from Delhi to Haridwar and I am on a whole new train experience myself!

Im Zug nach Haridwar- hier gibt es nur Sitzplätze
On the train to Haridwar- here there are only seats

For the first time I sit in a purly “seater train”. Because the route is short, no need for beds.

There are air-conditioned compartments and the non-air-conditioned simpler coaches. We decided for the first option and I have to say, we are doing really well here!

Adjustable seats, legroom, fold-out tables and catering service every minute. It’s almost like a long-haul flight! We get first a juice and water, then even our own teapot and finally a medium-sized breakfast consisting of two slices of bread, jam and two vegetarian roasts. Quite ok actually, like airplane food in India.

Unsere inkludierte Mahlzeit
Our included meal

By the way, my personal highlight is the voice announcement. We are not only told the menu sequence, but also the stops – not usual in Indian trains! Normally you always have to pay attention and watch out where you are and when you have to get off. Here all the information comes through the loudspeaker and even a daily newspaper is in my place. India Railway, you are approaching European standard!

And here is a little guide on how to find your way around the station and make it safely into your train compartment and seat:

1. Go to the right station. Sounds logical, but in many cities there is more than one railway station, in Delhi even more than four, which is important for travellers to know!

2. Compare train number and name of train on the ticket with the signboard in the station hall to find out the platform. The sign boards alternates between Hindi and English, so have some patience.

Zugnummer und Name
Train number and name

3. Through the security check (each piece of luggage must pass through the scanner) and on to the platform. Confirm the platform  through asking fellow travelers.

4. There are electronic displays on the platform indicating the location of the coaches.

Wagon Nummer und Sitzplatz
Coach number and seat

On the ticket you will always find the train compartment and the seat. This looks something like this:

CNF/ A1 /6 SU

CNF means it’s a confirmed ticket. A1 is the coach, 6 is the seat and SU describes the position of the bed, i.e. SIDE UPPER, the upper side bed.

So you have to go to the scoreboard A1.

5. In addition, at all entrances of the coaches, information sheets with the traveller names are glued. Before entering the train, it is best to confirm your seat once again by searching for your name on that sheet.

Die Liste
The list

6. Then go inside the train and to your seat. The seats are numbered and you can store your luggage below the seat. in sleeper trains, each seat also includes a bed. The large luggage under the seats can be chained. However, valuables should be packed separately and slept with.

Der Schaffner
The Conductor

At some point, the conductor also comes by. He wants to see the ticket and the passport.

Enjoy your trip!

Note: Sometimes you only tickets on waiting list are available. There is always a risk involved, but seats up to Waiting List Nr 10 should get confirmed on the same day of boarding.

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