Train trips in India, Are Trains in India safe and on time
Many tourists fly around in India not knowing the pleasures of Train travel in India. For those who know about the trains worry about things like 'are trains in India safe?' or 'are trains in India expensive' or 'are trains in India on time', etc. To these we have only one answer, The Indian Railway network is one of the largest in the world, and that the Indian Railways are over a hundred years old and is one of the most efficient Train networks in the world. Indian trains are safe and mostly punctual, except in extraordinary circumstances.
For example you could leave Delhi late evening and arrive in Mumbai (Bombay) or Kolkata (Calcutta) early morning the next day by the fast, comfortable and air-conditioned Rajdhani Express trains. This is not only cheaper than flying, but you also save a nights hotel expenses. Being a night journey you will not be able to enjoy the sights of India. For this you should do a day train like a Shatabdi Express (the name "Shatabdi" means 'centenary' in Sanskrit and many other Indian languages).
Indian Railways Tour Packages
The best way to plan your travel in India by train is to make use of Indian Railway Tour Package available on this link to the INDIAN RAILWAYS PASSENGER RESERVATION ENQUIRY web page
These maps shows the details of the places, routes and the train numbers. With these two maps you will get a good idea of the available trains between the different cities of India and you can plan your trip well in advance and even book your journey online by going to the official online bookings of Indian Railways.
Trains are classified according to their average speed of service. The Rajdhani Express trains are the fastest trains in India, since they have fewer stops and has the highest priority for right of way. These trains connect the Capital of India, Delhi with the far flung State Capitals, like Mumbai (Bombay), Kolkata (Calcutta), Chennai (Madras), Trivandrum (Kerala), etc. The Shatabdi Expresses are Inter City fast trains in India with AC chair seats. The Mail and Express Trains are fast trains connecting major cities of India.
Passenger trains in India have different classes for travel. 1st Class Air Conditioned is the highest and then comes the 2 Tier and then 3 Tier Air Conditioned Sleeper classes. The same classes as mentioned before also comes without Air Conditioning and is OK for travel in the winter season especially in Northern India. But in summer it is best to chose the Air Conditioned or AC classes. The AC chair class is offered on the day trains, like the Inter City Shatabdi Express. There are many other classes on Indian trains, but they are not usually considered for travel by Tourists to India.
India Rail Pass or ‘INDRAIL’ pass for Tourists
A great way to do India by Train is to avail of the India Rail Pass or ‘INDRAIL’ pass. You can get an ‘INDRAIL PASS’ valid from a few days up to a maximum of 3 months. With this IndRail pass you can travel everywhere in India - any-time, any-train.
The ‘IndRail Pass’ can be bought even before you reach India, or in India from selected agencies. The table below shows you the cost of these passes for unlimited travel for the time the pass is valid.
The fares are for adult passengers, children below 12 years are charged 50%. You can get the name of the agencies selling the IndRail pass and the latest rates from http://www.indianrail.gov.in/international_Tourist.html.
From the above table, a 30 day pass will cost US$ 495- for unlimited travel in the highest AC 1st class and $248 for the next class, the non-AC first class or either the 2 or 3 tier AC. This is a bargain especially if you take the long express trains.
Priority Train ticket booking for tourists in India
Priority Train ticket booking are available for tourists in India. Indian trains are in high demand and so it is wise to plan your journey well ahead, say at least a month before you arrive in India. Once your plans are made you must book your seats on the selected journeys. This can be done online on the Indian Railways online booking site. An IndRail pass holder has some priority in getting bookings under the ‘foreign tourist’ category.
How to go around all of India by train
Now we will work out a virtual 30 day tour for you in India on which you could see almost all of India in 30 days. The virtual tour starts with you landing in India, in New Delhi. On day one you take a rest after the long flight in a hotel in Delhi. Next day, we take week long trip on the ‘Palace on Wheels’ and see the most important sights of Delhi, Agra and Rajasthan. The Palace on Wheels has been rated as one of the ten best luxurious train journeys in the world. It is an out-of-this world experience of how the famous Maharajas, or erstwhile Kings of India, travelled during their time of glory. The train has luxurious cabins, wall to wall carpeting, a well stocked bar, two dining cars and a very personalized service. It may be a bit expensive, in the range of about $ 2500- for a seven day trip, but it is an experience of a life time and defiantly worth every cent of the money spent.
After this seven day trip, you return to Delhi and take the overnight Rajdhani Express to Mumbai (Bombay) spend the night of day 8 on the train, and days 9 and 10 in Mumbai experiencing this great city. On the 11th day, we will take the train to Goa. Please note that there is no Railway station named Goa, instead of Goa it is called Madagaon.
For this journey we need to use one of Indian Railways greatest Engineering achievement, the Konkan Railways - which is the railway line through the mountainous West coast of India. The train we chose for our journey from Mumbai to Madagaon is Train No. 12432 'Trivandrum Rajdhani Express' from http://www.indianrail.gov.in/train_Schedule.html.
It leaves PANVEL station of Mumbai pretty early at 05.10 hours and reaches Madagaon (Goa) at 12.40 or about 1 PM. Some very nice views can be seen on this journey. We spend two nights in Goa and on day 13 we will take same train on which we came to Madagaon from Mumbai, to the Ernakulam Junction, the main Station in the centre of Paradise, Kerala State. We spend at least 4 nights in Kerala, to savour this Paradise on earth. There are many things you can do in Kerala, but one of the best choice will be to spend two nights on a Houseboat on the Backwaters of Kerala. You save on the hotel bill, because of your stay on the House boat and the difference is not much. This will be one of your most relaxing time you spent in your life.
Other choices in Kerala are the beaches of Kovalam or a visit to the resort of Thekkady where you are in a boat in a lake and can safely get close to wild elephants, buffalos, deer, and a tiger if you get lucky, when these animals come to the lake's edge to have a of drink water. There still more enticing choices, but more on this in our dedicated page on Kerala . So after 4 nights in Kerala, we are on day 18. We have the choice to take an overnight train to Bangalore to see the Silicon valley of India, but on this virtual tour we decide to go to Madras or Chennai, by an overnight train and spend 2 days there.
The sights to see in Chennai are many as detailed in our dedicated page on Chennai. By now, we know the tricks of choosing the right trains on the Indian Railway web site, so it will not be necessary to explain how to do it. On day 20 we take the train to Hyderabad and spend one night to see the sights there. On day 22 we take the over night train to Kolkata or Calcutta and arrive there on day 23. We see the sights of Kolkatta which will include Darjeeling in the itinerary. So we need to spend 3 nights here. Darjeeling is special because you go there by the steam engine driven, world heritage 'Mountain Railways of India' the 'Toy Train'. More on this on our page Kolkata. On day 27 we return to Delhi by a Rajdhani Express and arrive on Day 28. This leaves us a couple of days for Delhi for any last minute shopping for gifts and we are ready to take off back to our Homeland after having the satisfaction of having seen India without leaving India, that is without leaving the ground of India.
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