Travelling by Indian trains is a fabulous way to see and feel the country. For me it’s always been a welcome option – the anticipation of a trip and enticing sense of adventure never fails to outweigh inconveniences. And those are unavoidable, especially for a new person who is not sure what to expect. Selecting the right option among the Indian train classes is the key to a stress-free railway journey.
The Indian train classes explained
First Class Air conditioned (1AC)
So, let’s get started with the most comfortable option – First Class Air conditioned. To be honest, I’ve never had a chance of traveling by 1AC, because its tickets fare is close to that of flying, so what’s the point? Nevertheless, if you’d like to see the country through the train window while enjoying the luxuries of a comfy compartment with a lockable door, this sort of train journey was designed for you.
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Second Class Air Conditioned (2AC)
2AC is a rather costly option as well, though I went for it during my first trip to Delhi. Back then, I had no idea that it was only the beginning of my battle against the local bureaucratic system. As it turned out, trying to get a PIO card (Person of Indian Origin Card) involved a lot of similar trips back and forth, and I had to consider my budget. In any case, travelling in 2AC was very pleasant. My compartment had four berths and curtains for privacy. They also provided clean bedsheets, warm blankets and towels. Why would you need warm blankets in India? Because of severe air conditioning! If you request to reduce the intencity of freezing, there is a huge probability that your complaints will be ignored. People paid for AC and they want to get their money worth 🙂 The only thing you can do in order not to freeze to death is to stop the stream of arctic air with a scotch adhesive tape. I’m not joking! 🙂
Third Class Air Conditioned (3AC)
Among all the Indian train classes, 3AC offers the best balance between quality and cost. It’s air-conditioned and clean. Generally speaking, it’s pretty much like 2AC, but there are six berths instead of four. And there are no curtains. I always try to try to book upper berths where I can sleep as much as needed, or read a book. The middle berths are folded during the daytime in order to give people space to sit on the lower ones.
Sleeper Class (SL)
Sleeper offers a cost effective way to travel when it comes to selecting among the Indian train classes. There is neither air conditioning nor bed sheets, so you should have your own bedloth. Sleeper trains are rather crowded, so don’t expect any privacy. Sometimes they’re also extremely both in day time and at night. People rush from the train and try to get in. As for cleanness, things have been improving over the years, and I wouldn’t call the sleeper particularly dirty. A garbage container wouldn’t be out of place, however.
Second Class (2S)
Second Class (2S) is one of the least comfortable ways to travel by train in India. There are three non-reclining seats on both sides of the aisle and no sleeping facilities. Not the first choice for a long journey.
Unreserved General Class (UR)
And then there is Unreserved General Class (UR). Well, if you seek for an unforgettable experience, you’ll get it in the general class. No reservation is required there, and there is no limit to the number of people. The concept of comfort is absolutely non-existent, so think twice. And if you’re a female solo traveller, forget of this option at all.
What I find really appealing across all the Indian train classes is that you’ll never starve on your journey. Every few minutes they’ll offer you to buy tea, water bottles, biscuits, crunchy snacks, omelettes, bananas and what not.
Well, hope it shed some light on the Indian trains classification. what was your experience of traveling by train in India? Don’t hesitate to share in the comments.
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