• Article: How to Navigate India’s Vast Train Network

  • Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.
Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.

Moderators: Komachi, David Benton

  by Jeff Smith
https://www.thrillist.com/amphtml/trave ... n-railways
Ask anyone: India's expansive train system offers a one-of-a-kind experience that leaves a lasting impression on all who use it for travel. From the bustling stations and the apparent chaos that surrounds them to the rhythmic chugging of the locomotive, each journey is a sensory feast that can't be replicated anywhere else in the world. Whether you hope to wind around lush hills, along peaceful coastline, or past tea plantations and waterfalls, you can do so on Indian Railways (IR), the fourth-largest train network in the world.

The train system was created during the British Raj in the 1800s, with the goal to move people and goods from remote parts of India to bustling port cities like Mumbai, Goa, and Chennai for worldwide export. The first commercial railway line opened in 1851, running between Bombay (Mumbai) and Thane, and the first passenger train was inaugurated in 1853, covering a distance of just 21 miles. Today, the Indian rail system has over 41,000 miles of track and more than 7,000 stations all over the country. It is one of the busiest networks worldwide, hauling over six billion passengers and millions of tons of freight annually. More than just a transportation option, it is a lifeline for many Indians, since owning a car is a luxury not everyone can afford.
One of the most popular options is the Rajdhani Express, which connects major cities in India with the capital, New Delhi. These trains are superfast and fully air-conditioned—a must, especially during summer when much of the country experiences a heat wave. They offer comfortable seating, meals, and bedding for the overnight portions of the journey. If you are looking for trains that connect major cities with one another, then opt for the Shatabdi Express. These trains are also air-conditioned and run daily, providing passengers with meals and snacks during the journey.
  by David Benton
My memories go back to the 1990's, and trying to organise a ride on the Darjeeling Express from London. I had to get a special visa to go to the Area , I can't remember if i got it or not. On that trip , I flagged away any attempt to ride that line. i think the embassy told me the train was not running.
I had the Thomas cook timetable , but it was just a matter of turning up at the railway station and standing in a line for hours for a ticket. larger cities had ticket offices for tourists , and a number of tickets reserved for tourists . Govt , royalty, military and senior railway workers were above tourists in reservations. sometimes it was come back tomorrow , or in a few days , when tickets might be moved between catergories.
On my second trip , i made it to Darjeelling , and rode the toy train , no restrictions. Towards the end of my trip , i learn't that travel agents can bypass all that bother for a few $$$, however it may mean you pay a few dollars more when you turn up at the railway station. I think i let on that i just wanted to get home as soon as possible , and a surcharge magically appeared to get on the next train . but it probably would have been days waiting to go through the railway ticket office, part of the payment been to pay someone to stand in the ticketline for you.