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  • Last week, Indian Railways celebrated its 160th anniversary. It is the

  • world's second biggest employer and it has over 75,000 kilometers of track

  • stretching across this vast land. Of course for Indians it's a fundamental

  • part of their transport system, but also for the modern, international

  • traveler it can form a fundamental part of your journey. At Wild

  • Frontiers we get asked time and time again. So what are the trains like?

  • How comfortable are they? What do the bunks look like? Of course that's

  • quite hard to explain over the telephone so what I thought I'd do in this

  • short film is not tell you but show you exactly what the trains are like.

  • So first of all this is what's known as first AC chair car. This is the

  • kind of service that you'll get if you're going on short train journeys in

  • India say between Delhi and Agra or Delhi and Rishikesh. Short journeys of

  • up to about four or five hours something like that. As you can see it's

  • very comfortable. The seats are reclining, you get mineral water, you'll

  • get breakfast, if you are brave enough to eat it, but yea it's a good

  • service easy and comfortable.

  • So this is first AC. Now the problem with this is they usually only have

  • one carriage on the train and it only sleeps twelve people which means it's

  • hard to get for groups but for mates this is what we try to use, two bunks

  • behind a sealed door. The second one that we mainly use for our groups is

  • called two tier AC. And this is what you get when you sleep during the

  • day. The back goes up in the evening you put it down and sleep on that.

  • What you also get at the end of the carriage or corridor is two more

  • berths which go down to make two beds and then goes up as a chair for the

  • day's journey. And each of the little berths is separated by a curtain

  • which can be drawn across to give you some privacy.

  • Okay so this three tier AC now what you can see here are the three bunks or

  • rather one bunk with three berths in it both sides and during the day this

  • gets pushed down but at night it gets pulled up and makes the third berth

  • of the bunk. This is three tier AC so that means there are six people in

  • each of these with two more at the far end. Here are two gentlemen

  • illustrating and there is the biscuit wallah so they are as comfortable as

  • the two tier, they're just a bit more crowded, that's all. There's no

  • curtain, no door, they're open.

  • So another thing to say is that each person in this class gets a blanket

  • and a pillow just like this chap is bringing down now, which he hands out

  • to everyone. They're actually incredibly clean and very okay to use. You

  • don't really need to bring a sleeping bag or anything. They're perfectly

  • okay.

  • You also have a constant flow of refreshment wallahs. This guy is selling

  • samosas but you also have chai wallahs, and water wallahs, and sandwich

  • wallahs, and crisp wallahs and every wallah you can think of. To be

  • honest, three tier AC does get quite crowded and we try to avoid it, it's

  • only when there's spill over that we do end up using it. Most of the time

  • we try to go to two tier AC which is much less crowded and much more

  • comfortable.

  • There are a couple of things to mention about traveling on the trains in

  • India. The first thing of course is the security. Just like anywhere in

  • the world you do need to take care particularly of your important

  • possessions like your passport, your wallet, et cetera. Actually the

  • security on the trains is pretty good in India and it's very unusual that

  • people get things stolen, but just like anywhere you need to take a little

  • bit of care.

  • The second thing to mention is that Indian Railways only allow you to book

  • seats on trains 90 days prior to departure. So this means you need to have

  • your travel plans in place as early as possible as trains particularly the

  • first and second classes can get booked up very quickly and of course if

  • you are booking later on it's all done on a rather random computer system

  • which means you may not get berths together if you are traveling with

  • friends or in a group. Of course on World Frontiers we manage this

  • situation as best we can and make sure that everybody stays within the same

  • compartment but the sooner you can get your travel plans together the

  • better.

  • But overall traveling on the trains in India is not only a convenient cost

  • effective and comfortable way to travel it also opens up India to you. If

  • you're the type of person that likes to travel beneath the surface, to see

  • the real country, to see how real people live, then train travel in India

  • is a quintessential part of your travel experience.

Last week, Indian Railways celebrated its 160th anniversary. It is the

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Train Travel in India - A Short Guide

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    Kevin Lu posted on 2014/01/29
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