What is the train RAC

A Train Journey Through India: A Practical Guide

One thing is certain: a trip to India without a train ride through the country is not a real trip to India! So join the millions of Indians who take the train every day and immerse yourself in an unforgettable and unusual experience!

Which class should I choose on the train?

Before buying your ticket, you mustchoose a class, depending on your budget and desired level of comfort. The Indians make life here quite complicated: the Indian rail network, Indian Railways, has a total of 8 different classes!

And now a brief overview including some advice, from the simplest to the most luxurious class:

- 2nd Class Seats (2S and II): the ticket does not cost anything, but this class is completely overcrowded. Even with a ticket in your pocket, you may find yourself without a seat. A little anecdote: I was in this situation myself and decided to stretch out along the iron bars on the luggage rack ... avoid this class!

- Sleeper Class (SL): sleeping car places, very cheap Sleeping car spaces on 3 floors and without dividing walls. Choose the upper bunk because Indians have a habit of sitting in the bottom and chatting, even if it should be your seat. The same problem exists with the middle seat, which cannot be unfolded when the lower seat is occupied!

- AC Chair Class (CC): quite comfortable seats and air-conditioned wagons.

- AC Executive Chair Class (EC): rows with two seats, even more comfortable, with air conditioning. A drink and a meal are included in the ticket price.

- First Class (FC): they are not often found, but they are compartments with 2 or 4 beds, no air conditioning, no smoking.

- AC 3-tier (AC3 or 3A): corresponds to Sleeper Class, but with air conditioning and bedding. During the day, the benches become normal seats.

- AC 2-tier (AC2 or 2C): a good compromise when it comes to comfort. Similar to AC3, but the compartments are smaller (only 4 beds) and are separated from the others by a curtain.

- AC First Class (AC1 or 1C): the first class. Compartments with 2 or 4 beds, washbasin and air conditioning that can be turned off. However, this class is much more expensive.

How and where can I buy my train ticket?

At the very beginning: reserve your ticket. The Indian trains are often full because many Indians choose this means of transport on a daily basis. Reservations can be made 120 days before the travel date.

In major city train stations there is a tourist-only ticket office (International Tourist Bureau) where staff speak English. All you have to do is fill out a form: it's very easy, don't panic! You can also buy your train ticket through a local agency or online through the following sites: Cleartrip or Makemytrip.

You have to know that there aren't many places. The remaining options are:

  • Foreign Tourist Quota (FT): a seating quota intended for foreign tourists.
  • Tatkal / Emergency Quota: Seats that are reserved for emergencies and can be purchased for an additional fee up to 3 days before departure.
  • Reservation Against Cancellation (RAC): With this ticket you will certainly get on the train, but you may not have a seat. These are tickets that are on sale again due to a cancellation.
  • Wait List (WL): the waiting list. You can see where you are on the list. If you're in the first 30 people, it's cause for celebration!
  • Ladies Quota (LD): in the Sleeper Class this is a closed compartment for women traveling alone.

In all cases, you can cancel the trip up to 24 hours before departure at a low cost.

What does a train journey through India look like?

Even if delays are frequent, you should be there at the specified time because a train that is on time won't wait! Make a note of the number of your wagon so that you can find it quickly because the trains stop at stations for a relatively short time.

You also need to know that during your trip the stations where the train stops will not be announced and the names of the stations are written in Hindi or another local language (i.e. with a different alphabet). You need to know the approximate time of arrival so that you don't miss your stop.

It depends on the class whether a meal is included or not. Do not worry, however, because there are vendors at every stop who will offer you tea and various snacks with the words "Chai Chai Chai". Don't forget your toilet paper and remember that the toilets on the Indian trains are not exactly the cleanest you've seen in your life ... a real shower after your arrival is highly recommended!

And Of course, take good care of your belongings, lock your bag with a padlock and secure it to your seat with a chain. You can never be too careful.

Now enjoy your train journey and enjoy what you see! The landscapes that you will traverse are undoubtedly unique.

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Updated on April 19, 2016