Indian Railways - Types Of Trains
INDIAN RAILWAYS – TYPES OF TRAINS
When booking an Indian Railways adventure as a ‘regular commuter’ on your Australian Cricket Tour to India, search results will present myriad of train types with these Indian Railways - Travel Classes.
Some of the following only operate on dedicated routes and days so although you may want to travel on a Tejas Express, it may simply not run the route or on the day you wish to travel.
Although there are 30 different Indian Railways 'Types of Train' you are limited to 8 travel classes, from the unreserved bun-fight (n. heated argument) at the back of the train, to the dress-coded bun-fight (n. tea party of a grand kind) at the front. As such, Tejas Express or Mail, select your train based on the available fare. The higher fare, the higher your brow!
Indian Railways offer ‘saloon cars’ for private charter. These are a private ‘home’ on wheels with master bedroom, nanna & grandpa’s room, kitchen, and beds to sleep 4-6 persons in the living room. The saloons are attached the back of your train and come with a viewing window, perhaps where your bandit can break-in. Book saloon cars through IRCTC Tourism however we cannot find any information about saloons on their site. We include saloons because it is the pinnacle of Indian Railways travel (not a luxury tourist train such as Palace on Wheels or Maharajas Express (above).
Vande Express (VANDE / VAND / VAN)
This is the top shelf of regular passenger trains. This is the first Indian-made locomotive-less train. This proud piece of engineering was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Feb 15 2019. This ‘fast’ train that can run upwards of 200kph opened its innings on the New Delhi – Varanasi route. A slick airconditioned chair two-class service includes wifi, CCTV, and hydraulic doors. You can choose Chair Class (CC) or Executive Class (EC). The second Vande Express operates between New Delhi – Katra.
Shatabdi Express (SHTBDI / SHT / SHBDI)
The original ‘luxury’ airconditioned choice on Indian Railways, this intercity train operates chair-class round-trip day journeys only between major cities. The first, launched in 1988, was the Delhi-Jhansi Shatabdi (later extended to Bhopal) and remains the second fastest between Delhi and Agra, with a top speed of 150kph, though the average speed for most of journey is 90kph. These chair cars with 2 x 2 seating (unlike bench seats in sleepers) include Wifi, meals served to your seat, and operate with limited stops currently between 25 city pairs.
Jan Shatabdi Express (JAN SHT / JN SHTB)
The ‘premium economy’ of the Shatabdi Express with AC and non-AC classes
Rajdhani Express (RJDHNI / RAJD / RAJDH)
Brand new (2015), top-shelf, air-conditioned, 1A / 2A / 3A, long-distance sleeper that launched between New Delhi and Mumbai / Kolkata. They now travel the length and breadth of India between big cities. These super-fast trains generally leave late afternoon/early evening to arrive at 9am-ish the following day.
With bedding and meals included, these comfy rides are approx. A$85 for First Class 1A (2-berth), A$50 for 2-Tier 2A (4-berth), and A$35 for 3-Tier 3A (6-berth). The Rajdhani now include flash German designed (Indian built) rolling stock with improved shock absorbers making the ride super-smooth.
You can travel on the Rajdhani from New Delhi Hazrat Nizamuddin to Trivandrum in the deep south, on which route you cover Indian Railway’s longest non-stop section; 528km between Vadodara and Kota.
Contrary to ‘evening departures’ and pleasant ‘morning arrivals’ the ‘Trivandrum Rajdhani’ is 42hrs 30mins, departing at 10.55am, arriving at a horrible 0525am, two mornings later. There are 24 Rajdhani Express, only stopping at ‘important’ stations
Duronto Express (DURNT or DNTO)
Duronto Express is very similar to Rajdhani Express, but what was started as a non-stop overnight service between major cities, is now available to/from the technical stops that were scheduled into the service. This doesn't create too much of an issue for your journey as the train was stopping anyway. The effect comes when passengers joining mid-way prevent you from booking end-to-end if the flight is full. The only other notable difference between this and the Rajdhani Express is that non-AC sleeper class (SL) is also available.
Although already a fast train, a ‘super-fast’ Duronto Express runs between Sealdah (Kolkata) and New Delhi and because of its very-limited stops remains Indian Railways most punctual service.
Gatimaan Express (GTMAN / GATMN / GTM)
The fastest train from New Delhi to Agra, covering the journey in 90mins, the Gaatimaan is a high-speed air-conditioned luxury train, offering a choice of chair class only. The government launched this service to promote India tourism and operates daily except Friday when the Taj Mahal is closed.
Tejas Express (TEJAS / TEJ / TEJS)
This is the business class of Indian Railways, oriented to fast moving execs or people that prefer to fly at the pointy end. In these slick air-conditioned rakes, you'll find automatic doors, Wi-Fi, seat-back TV’s & headphones, catering, coffee vending machines, hand-dryers in the bio-vacuum-toilets, magazines and a comfort level of no other Indian Railways service, unless you charter a saloon car! Tejas Express is very noticeable because of its multi-coloured vinyl-wrap exterior.
Humsafar Express (HUMSAF / HUMSFR / HMSFR)
This premium service airconditioned 3-tier train has display screens with live GPS, PA system, vending machines, privacy curtains, charging ports and bio-toilets. 39 of these top-end services connect Kolkata, Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai, and New Delhi with more remote centres in Rajasthan, Jammu & Kashmir, and central India. The inaugural service was between Gorakphur in Uttar Pradesh and Anand Vihar Terminal in New Delhi.
Yuva Express (YUVA / YUV / YV)
The Yuva Express is an airconditioned ‘Chair Car’ developed for low-income travellers and students with 60% of seats reserved for those with proof of status. Launched between Howrah (Kolkata) and Mumbai, a Yuva Express also runs between Howrah and New Delhi (ANVT). The difference in a Yuva from standard CC is that it squeezes in 6 seats per row. Naturally you pay less to be more uncomfortable with your fellow commuters. What started as a point to point service, now makes stops along the way whilst including 2A and 3A classes.
Uday Express (UDAY / UD / UY)
The Utkrisht Double Decker Air Conditioned Yatri Express are airconditioned double-decker chair car trains designed by Indian Railways for overnight journeys. The Uday is envisioned as a high-end luxury train for business execs on high density routes. Each carriage can accommodate 120 passengers where the Shatabdis can seat only 78.
Vivek Express (VIVEK / VVK / VIVK)
The Vivek Express was introduced to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda in 2013. There are currently only 4 Vivek Express trains, with only 2A, 3A, SL, 2S travel classes. What makes the Vivek Express unique is that one operates the longest route in India. From Dibrugarh in Assam in the far north east, it travels 75hrs to Kanyakumari Cape, the southern most tip of India. Though one Vivek Express commences at Bandra Terminus in Mumbai, and one at Santragachi outside Kolkata, Vivek Express bypass all major cities, connecting only rural and minor centres.
Once you watch the Vivek Express pass by, you will find a multitude lower down your standards bar that make the vast percentage of Indian Railways mass-market focus. As such, you may not find a class of travel any higher than 2A.
Away from salubrious super-fast, all-inclusive, airconditioned rakes, you can also travel on:
Rayja Rani Express, Mahamana Express, Intercity Express, Antyodada Express, Jan Sadharan Express, Suvhida Express, Superfast Express, Express, Mail, and Passenger, the last ‘stopping all stations’ with unreserved seating.
In our early days, if not high-browing in a Shatabdi, we could only choose Superfast Express, Express, Mail, or Passenger, which made no difference in the perennially uncomfortable and deplorably cheap Sleeper.
We've not included UNESCO protected mountain railways of Kalka-Shimla, Darjeeling, and Nilgiri. These toy-trains are by and large 'tourist trains' booked once you are in the remote departing town, though you can book on IRCTC.
We also have not included the slick suburban metros that transport billions over or under New Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Lucknow, and Hyderabad on an ever-growing list of cities.
In 1996, we alighted from the ‘Jammu Mail’ after 42 hours and walked to places that underground trains now take you after arriving well-slept on your Tejas Express. As frustrating or confusing the entire Indian Railways process may be, appreciate the choice and comforts this monstrous entity now has.
All said, no matter what 'type of train' is available, there's still only 8 travel classes. Knowing money could be the determining factor for which train you ultimately find yourself on, you will get what you pay for pending which bun-fight suits your budget.