Taking a train in India is a real experience. As a Britsish heritage, India has one of the most complete rail networks in Asia.
Most foreigner travel by night in 1st class sleepers coachs. If you wanna sleep on the train and have A/C, this is the best way, and is really not expensive...
But travelling in 3rd class coaches is an experience you will never forget. Choose a short trip (about 1 hour or so) and join the hundreds of indians that travel by train daily, is a great way to know the country!!
Mumbai and its suburban trains are famous for being very overcrowded. Locals hang from the doors and ride on top of the trains. Only for a few hours during midday are the trains less crowded. Be prepared to exit the train before your stop because crowds entering will be pushing you back as you try to exit. Be extremely cautious if you have to travel late at night – you may even consider an alternate mode of transportation.
If you are a woman, get a ticket for the woman’s (only) compartment or at the very least a first class ticket. DO NOT even think of going in a general/men’s compartment. It is so crowded someone most likely will be pushed up against you.
The trains are cheap, on time, and still the fastest way to get into town from the suburbs or vice versa. Just be smart and safe!
When travelling by train from Mumbai you will have to make a reservation in advance if you want to go in Sleepers 1st Class (which is the best, if not the only, way to travel around here).
You give your name for that purpose and they give you a ticket with your coach number. Before going into the train you have to check that your name is in the list that they stick at the entrance of your coach. Be sure to check it first, as if it isn't, you won't be allowed to travel in that train, so U better solve the problem before the train leaves...
Once you have seen your name in the list, see what is your place and go for it!
Foreign Tourist Counter
Across the street from Chrichgate is the booking/resevation office, one staircase beyond the tourist office. Very nice, competent, patient staff make life easy to get the reservations to your dream destinations. They can also help with changes to tickets booked on the internet.
Always convenient to book one's tickets on Indian Railways website:
I bought my train ticket for Aurangabad a few days before the journey. There is a reservation centre at CST (Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) and when I came there there was a lot of people waiting. I thought it was going to take very long, but was soon told to go upstairs where there is a counter only for foreigners. There was no queue and I could buy my ticket right away. I chose to buy a ticket for 2nd class seat (you get a seat number) with the train leaving at 6.10 in the morning. The ticket was Rs 102 (June 2010).
In the morning of the journey I came to the station in good time so that I could buy breakfast and some snacks. On the train I sat next to a Spanish couple and it was from the beginning few passengers. Well, it soon filled up, and at points during the journey the train was very crowded with people standing or sitting on the floor.
Short after the take off a man came by and asked if wanted to order breakfast. We did and it arrived maybe an hour later. The breakfast consisted of omelette and some bread. I can’t remember the price but it was cheap. If you don’t order breakfast or bring anything with you there will be plenty of opportunities to buy things to eat or drink from vendors passing.
The train was supposed to arrive to Aurangabad at 13.15 but was an hour late. Aurangabad is not the final destination of the train and it only stops for a short while. Be prepared with your bags and be prepared to push through the crowed trying to board the train when you leave it.
From the train station I walked to the hotel, it was not far.
From Mumbai I travelled:
To Gandhidham ~ an overnighter in 2nd class non A/C
To Chennai ~ a 33 hour ride in 2nd class A/C
I was initially waitlisted for the Mumbai - Chennai route (I quickly learned what RAC stood for ~ Reservation Against Cancellation), but it worked out in the end.
The Mumbai - Gandhidham ride was the most enjoyable by far. Our cabinmates were some Gujarati men who shared their food, played cards with us, taught us some basic words (they didn't speak English, so this part was all done through Charades). We also had an older man who broke into Qawaali in the evening and serenaded us for the better part of an hour. It was priceless!
Travel any where and as many times with tourist ticket., on Mumbai suburban rail network, western and central railway.
FIRST CLASS SECOND CLASS
Validity Adult child Validity Adult child
1 day Rs.170 Rs.100 1day Rs.50 Rs 35
3 days Rs.330 Rs.180 3days Rs.90 Rs.55
5 days Rs.390 Rs.210 5days Rs.105 Rs.60
You may now book online for tickets from any place to any destination on the internet from Mumbai and most major cities and get your tickets home (or hotel) delivered by courier. This facility is available at present in Mumbai and many other major cities and is a very easy way to book tickets for journeys inbetween any two places on the whole Indian Railways network. The website is www.irctc.co.in and you can pay by credit card!!! So happy bookings and safe journeys on the Indian Rails!!!
Now I have to admit I could not have used this mode of transport all the time because it was just too hot for some of the mucking about (especially with children) it required. However, the trains are 1) cheap 2) fast 3) reliable & 4) quite good fun!
2 adults and 2 children travelled for about the same price as a box of matches!
Buy your ticket - you should indicate you want a first class carriage as they ae slightly less crowded!
Women can travel with relative ease as there are uncrowded "women only" carriages.
You may not get onto the first train that comes into the platform because you may be struck dumb with the wonder of how you could ever possibly board - there are people clinging to the outside for dear life... it is every man and flip flop for himself! BUT once you are on it is relatively friendly and easy.
Mumbai is well connected to all parts of India with their rail service. The city is the headquarters of the Central and Western Railways and is the final destination for a number of long distance trains. The Western Railways departs Churchgate and runs to the western region of the city while the Central Railway departs from Mumbai CST and covers most of the northeast parts of the city and the central area. The harbour line runs for 54kms along the south-eastern section of the city.
The first time I visited Bombay, I arrived on the Daily Udyan Express train, leaving at 8:30pm from Bangalore, which made for a fascinating journey. Between the three of us we had managed to get two bunks in a second class sleeper carriage for the journey. My friend and her sister took the lower one together whilst I shared the middle one with our case, which our fellow passengers had told us to guard carefully. The friendliness and openness of these people made for a wonderful atmosphere and by the end of the 25 hours, any of us would have been able to write biographies of the others!
We were provided with a good filling meal of potatoes and cabbage with puris, which beat anything I’ve ever been offered on a train in the UK. The train also made several stops at the larger stations along the way which allowed passengers enough time to stop for water, food and magazines. Tea sellers also boarded the train at each station selling sweet strong milky tea, coffee and sometimes juices too along each carriage from seat to seat. I was intrigued to see that a lady selling guavas split and dusted with chilli and salt was followed at the next station by a man who swept up any discarded scraps of fruit and other rubbish for the coins we gave him for his service.
There were toilet and washing facilities in the train, including both Indian and European style toilets, the former, which remainined much cleaner throughout the journey, were more pleasant to use, if the view of the tracks whizzing past underneath didn’t put you off!
We were approximately one hour late arriving at our destination, which took us past sunset and although the train had been well lit inside the night before, when we left Bangalore, no lights were switched on at this stage, which meant the last part of our journey took place in darkness.
The website listed below is useful for train information and bookings but seems a little slow to use
Given that train travel is my addiction and that Mumbai is one of my favourite places, really my heart should beat faster inside one of Mumbai’s trains and I’m sure that it would have, had there been space!
Arriving at Dadar Station (Central), on the train from Bangalore, we had to change to a local train which stopped near our friends’ home and were advised by the station staff on where to stand for the ladies’ carriage, where they thought we’d stand a better chance of clambering aboard with our luggage during the peak travel time. Well, even there, we missed boarding the first train entirely but having noted the tactics used by other passengers to board, we swung our case onto the next train, all but using it as a battering ram to make a way through for us to jump on behind! Once inside the atmosphere seemed a little calmer and I noticed a few ladies seated peacefully cross legged on the floor feeding their children and one even preparing some vegetables.
I travelled on the local trains a few times on my first visit to the city but have never forgotten this first journey, which cost me a shoe, in addition to my fare and when I was lucky enough to return to the city a couple of years later, using the train was top of my list of things to do on our visit!
We found the system very efficient and inexpensive and the station signs were generally in English in addition to Hindi, which was helpful when deciding whether we'd arrived at the right place to get down. We never found we had to wait long for a train to take us where we wanted
The map on the website listed, shows the railway connections over an outline of the city:
The perfect way to criss cross across Mumbai. If you aint in a rush avoid the rush hour traffic (6 am to 10 am/5 pm to 10 pm). It has 2 lines taking you from south to north.
Tickets cost as low as Rs. 4 to upwards of Rs 12.
First class fares start above Rs. 50, but Ist Class here doesnt mean AC or booked seats. Its the same coach with a cushioned seat but a costly fare so you have less of a crowd so that your neatly ironed dress doesnt crumple with very close brush-ins with others, but it doesnt help cos shirt is gonno get crumpled anyway, cos first class is same as II class.
The difference is that you pay more to get your shirt crumpled, so why pay more when you can get the same thing in the II class coach as well?
I’m not sure I can really call this a train, its more like a children’s amusement however I took it because it was organised for me and pretty much everyone else did too just for the novelty of it. It is not like the walk of the pier is any great length, in fact I walked it on the return as waiting for the train to come back would have taken too long. You pile into this little contraption which seats 2 comfortably each side of the wagons and chug at 2kms p/h at best. We had a little breakdown enroute and I was prepared to get out and walk but it kicked into life again and we finished the last few metres in style.
A map with train routes and numbers, I include the website, you will also need this website to check the train table number which is the one you going to need.