Travelling by train is the best way to learn about India, its people, its culture, the villages, the smaller towns and the simple lives of the Indian people. A trip to India would not be complete without a train journey on the Indian railways.
However a traveller to India must be warned of the severe overcrowding in Indian trains. India has one of the biggest, the busiest and is the most connected rail networks in the world. With a population that is creeping towards 1.5 billion, it is no surprise that trains often runs overcrowded.
There are several types of trains in India; local trains that operate within the city such as the locals trains in Mumbai, there are long distance trains where one can travel in relative comfort, there are trains that connect the Indian capital to state capitals called the “Rajdhani Express”, then there local state trains.
If using local city trains such as Mumbai trains called the city’s suburban network then be prepared to face huge overcrowding. I have never travelled in one of these and don’t intend to. I would rather take a taxi or an auto-rickshaw.
The local state trains that connect the villages and towns are also a big culprit where overcrowding can case huge problems to those who are not used to. The issues are so severe that one has to cling on the doors or climb on to the roof tops. These local trains are best avoided. More appropriate mode of transport would be pre-booked coaches and taxis.
The long distance trains are perfect where one can travel in comfort in the various accommodations such as the standard fist class and air conditioned (AC) classes such as AC chair-car, AC sleeper-cabins, first-class AC (1A), two-tier AC class (2A), three-tier AC class (3A) and AC executive class. The seats are reserved meaning that no one else can occupy it other than the ticket holder. These are the most comfortable and perhaps the best and safest way to get around India other than air travel.