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Traveling India by Train: The Complete Guide

India is the seventh-largest country in the world with an area covering 3,287 million km², just 3 times smaller than the United States yet almost as populated. Traveling such a big country can seem overwhelming at first but luckily, India has one of the most well-connected railway networks in the world. With a wealth of different carriage types, sleeper trains, and more, travelers can avoid air fares, a high carbon footprint, and also save on a hotel for a night when traveling on a sleeper train.

Visiting India by train is by far an inexpensive way of traveling this insightful country full of rich culture, delicious food, and welcoming people. Read our guide on train routes in India and how to travel India by train.

Is It Safe to Travel by Train in India?

Arguably, one of the best ways to see India is on ground level where you can soak up every view as you travel. The bustle of the railway in India is also its own sight to check off of your bucket list. While it is easy to think of overcrowded trains with passengers sitting on the roof thanks to films and the media, India is safe to travel by train on the long-distance express trains that offer a multitude of options; AC Chair Car, AC1, AC2 sleeper, and more. Furthermore, all seats are reserved and civilized.

General Information and Facts about India’s Railway

No journey to India is complete without the ultimate train experience of diverse terrains, villages, and cities contrasting as you hear the tea seller’s cry up and down the aisle as they serve chai and garam chai. Long-distance journeys from Delhi to Udaipur, Bombay to Delhi, and more can be done overnight in comfortable sleeper trains.

Here are some facts about India’s railway:

  • The railway routes total approximately 63,000 km in length
  • There are up to 6,800 railway stations in India
  • India’s rail network is the third largest in the whole world
  • Indian Railways employ over 1.5 million staff, making them the world’s biggest employer

Indian Railway Routes and Connections

Travelers can visit almost any town or city by train. However, please note the following:

  • There is a line to Srinagar with further construction underway. However, there is no rail access to Kashmir.
  • Travelers are now able to travel to Khajuraho by train from Delhi (and back) on an overnight service that runs daily.

Reserving Train Tickets for India

When booking your train tickets for India, it may seem slightly bewildering. The official government website provides plenty of information for train times. However, the website will only show direct trains. If you are taking a long-distance train that passes through a big city, it may be likely that you have to disembark and board another train. An example of this could be Varanasi to Delhi and then Delhi to Jaisalmer. Alternatively, you could change at Jaipur instead.

For more train times and travel-route information, there are also other websites that travelers are able to use to look up and reserve train tickets for India prior to arriving.

Do You Have to Reserve Train Tickets in Advance?

If you plan on traveling a long distance in India by train, it will be necessary to book your train tickets in advance. All train tickets are reserved online prior to the journey and it is also advised to book with plenty of time in advance, as certain journeys can sell out quickly.

Applicants who plan to visit India by train should take this into account when booking accommodation, and other travel plans in order to plan their itinerary accordingly.

Remember: Regardless as to how travelers arrive and whether they travel India by train, land or air, those who require an Indian visa in order to enter the country will still require one to travel by train.