For those travelling by train for the first time in India, it can be quite intimidating. The rush of people and the numerous platforms can confuse even the most patient and organised person. Once you get used to the system, however, the commotion and chaos at these stations is something you learn to savour.
Here are some tips for anyone booking trains on the Indian Railways
- Reserving tickets early
Train reservations must be made as far in advance as possible. In the peak season, which is generally in the summer between April and June, it is literally impossible to find trains if bookings aren’t done 3-4 months prior to travel. For short-distance passenger trains it isn’t as important to make reservations. Checking out train ticket availability on the various websites is the best way to plan for any trips or journeys.
- Choose your class wisely
Most Indian trains have five different categories. Some of them, such as the 1st class AC are quite expensive and prices are almost on par with flights. The lowest of all, the 2nd Seater is quite cheap for long distance travel. The comfort levels in the 1st AC class is leagues higher than that in the 2nd Class, but for someone who just wants to go from A to B, does it really matter? The primary difference between these classes is to do with food, temperature and personal space.
- 1st AC to 3rd AC – These classes will have a level of privacy, but will also cost that much more. These cars are segregated from the remaining compartments. The 1st class is entirely private, and the 3rd class is least private in the AC list.
- 2nd Class: This is the cheapest class, with almost no privacy offered to the travellers. Sleeping must be done sitting upright, since there are no berths on offer.
- Sleeper class: This class has seats that can be unfolded as berths. It offers the minimal comfort for a long journey, allowing you to stretch your legs and doze off at night.
- Keep your belongings in sight
Petty thefts are quite common on trains, especially in the lower classes such as sleeper and 2nd class. It is recommended that you never go out of sight of your baggage and items, since thieves are always loitering around, and are the most unsuspecting of the folk. A simple padlock and chain is an excellent solution since it is not practical to think that you can always keep an eye on your backpack.
- Carry something to help you pass time
With almost everyone having a smartphone, there is less chance that you will get utterly bored without having anything to do on trips. But batteries can run out and internet connectivity may be non-existent in certain places. If you are a voracious reader, a book would be your best bet. If you like photography, getting a camera along will help you shoot the incredible scenes that your train will pass by.
Just executing a few of these tips will go a long way in ensuring a safe and worry-free journey!