Indian Railways(reporting mark IR) is an Indian state-owned enterprise, owned and operated by the Government of India through the Ministry of Railways. It is one of the world’s largest railway networks comprising 115,000 km (71,000 mi) of track over a route of 65,808 km (40,891 mi) and 7,112 stations.
Railways were first introduced to India in the year 1853 from Mumbai to Thane. In 1951 the systems were nationalised as one unit, the Indian Railways, becoming one of the largest networks in the world. IR operates bothlong distance and suburban rail systems on a multi-gauge network of broad, metre and narrow gauges. It also owns locomotive and coach production facilities at several places in India and are assigned codes identifying their gauge, kind of power and type of operation. Its operations cover twenty nine states and seven union territories and also provides limited international services to Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Types of passenger services
Trains are classified by their average speed. A faster train has fewer stops (“halts”) than a slower one and usually caters to long-distance travel.
|Duronto Express||These are the non-stop (except for technical halts) point to point rail services introduced for the first time in 2009. They connect the metros and major state capitals of India and were introduced to travel as fast or faster than the Rajdhani Express. They provide first AC, two-tier AC and three-tier AC accommodation. Some of them provide non air-conditioned Sleeper Class accommodation.|
|Rajdhani Express||These are air-conditioned trains linking major cities to New Delhi. They have high priority and are one of the fastest trains in India, travelling at a maximum speed of around 130–140 km/h (82 mph). They have limited stops. In the Railway budget of 2014, it was proposed that the speed of Rajdhani express, and Shatabdi Expresses would be increased up 180 km/h.|
|AC Express||These are fully air-conditioned trains linking major cities in the country. They have high priority and are one of the fastest trains in India, travelling at about 130 km/h (82 mph). They have limited stops.|
|Shatabdi Express||The Shatabdi trains are air-conditioned, intercity trains for travel during daytime. Unlike the Rajdhani or Duronto Expresses, all Shatabdi expresses, it makes a round trip on same day. The Bhopal Shatabdi Express (Train no: 12001/12002) is the fastest train in India, between New Delhi and Agra cantonment, this train travels at an average speed of 100kmph and touches top speed of 160kmph. They have seats and executive class seats, Some also have 3-tier AC berth. They have limited stops. Indian Railway is planning to introduce Wi-Fi services, New Delhi – Kalka Shatabdi Express being first train for trials.|
|Double Decker Express||Same as Shatabdi Express, these are fully air-conditioned two floor express trains. They have high priority and are among fast trains in India. They have limited stops.|
|Jan Shatabdi Express||Jan Shatabdi Express are more affordable variety of the Shatabdi Express, which have both AC and non-AC classes. The maximum speed is 130 km/h. They have fewer stops.|
|Garib Rath||Air-conditioned no-frills trains with seats and 3-tier Economy AC berths. The maximum speed is 130 km/h. Some of them have AC Chair cars also.|
|Sampark Kranti Express||These are a series of trains which provide super fast Express-like connectivity to the national capital Delhi. These trains have higher priority than Super Express / Mail.|
|Yuva Express||These trains were started along with Duronto Express trains to provide air conditioned travel to youth of the country. Sixty percent of the seats of these trains were reserved for passengers between 18 – 45 years of age. These trains did not enjoy much success. Today these trains only operate on the Delhi – Howrah and Delhi – Mumbai routes.|
|Kavi Guru Express||These trains were introduced in honour of Ravindra Nath Tagore. Currently four pairs of these trains operate on the Indian Railways network.|
|Vivek Express||These trains were introduced to commemorate the 150th birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekanand in 2013. Currently four pairs of Vivek Express run in the country|
|Intercity Superfast Express/Mai||These trains travel at a speed greater than 100–120 km/h (60-75 mph). Tickets for these trains have an additional superfast surcharge.|
|Rajya Rani Express||These trains were introduced to connect state capitals to important cities in that state.|
|Express||These are the most common kind of trains in India. They have more stops than their super-fast counterparts, but they stop only at relatively important intermediate stations.|
|Fast Passenger and Passenger||These are slow trains that stop at most or every station along the route and are the cheapest trains. The trains generally have unreserved seating accommodation but some night trains have sleeper and 3-tier AC compartments. These trains travel at about 40-80 kmph.|
|Suburban trains||These trains operate in the urban areas of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Pune and between Kanpur and Lucknow, usually stop at every stations and have unreserved seating accommodation.|
|Metro||These trains are designed for city transport. Indian Railway constructed Kolkata Metro for the city of Kolkata.|
|Tourist Trains||Indian Railways also operate luxurious tourist trains like Palace on Wheels, Maharaja Express, The Golden Chariot, Royal Rajasthan on Wheels etc. Fairy Queen has also gained tourist attraction because it is the oldest steam engine in operation hauling a luxurious train from Delhi to Alwar.|
Indian Railways has several classes of travel with or without airconditioning. A train may have just one or many classes of travel. Slow passenger trains have only unreserved seating class whereas Rajdhani, Duronto, Shatabdi, garib rath and yuva trains have only airconditioned classes. The fares for all classes are different with unreserved seating class being the cheapest. The fare of Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi trains includes food served in the train but the fare for other trains does not include food that has to be bought separately. In long-distance trains a pantry car is usually included and food is served at the berth or seat itself. Luxury trains such as Palace on Wheels have separate dining cars but these trains cost as much as or more than a five-star hotel room.
A standard passenger rake generally has four unreserved (also called “general”) compartments, two at the front and two at the end, of which one may be exclusively for ladies. The exact number of other coaches varies according to the demand and the route. A luggage compartment can also exist at the front or the back. In some mail trains a separate mail coach is attached. Lavatories are communal and feature both the Indian style as well as the Western style.
The following table lists the classes in operation. A train may not have all these classes.
|1A||First class AC: This is the most expensive class, where the fares are almost at par with air fare. There are eight cabins (including two coupes) in the full AC First Class coach and three cabins (including one coupe) in the half AC First Class coach. The coach has an attendant to help the passengers. Bedding is included with the fare in IR. This air conditioned coach is present only on popular routes and can carry 18 passengers (full coach) or 10 passengers (half coach). The sleeper berths are extremely wide and spacious. The coaches are carpeted, have sleeping accommodation and have privacy features like personal coupes. This class is available on broad gauge and metre gauge trains.|
|2A||AC-Two tier: These air-conditioned coaches have sleeping berths across eight bays. Berths are usually arranged in two tiers in bays of six, four across the width of the coach and two berths longways on the other side of the corridor, with curtains along the gangway or corridor. Bedding is included with the fare. A broad gauge coach can carry 48 passengers (full coach) or 20 passengers (half coach). This class is available on broad gauge and metre gauge trains.|
|FC||First class: Same as 1AC but without air conditioning. No bedding is available in this class. The berths are wide and spacious. There is a coach attendant to help the passengers. This class has been phased out on most of the trains and is rare to find. However narrow gauge trains to hill stations have this class.|
|3A||AC three tier: Air conditioned coaches with 64 sleeping berths. Berths are usually arranged as in 2AC but with three tiers across the width and two longways as before giving eight bays of eight. They are slightly less well-appointed, usually no reading lights or curtained off gangways. Bedding is included with fare. It carries 64 passengers in broad gauge. This class is available only on broad gauge.|
|3E||AC three tier (Economy): Air conditioned coaches with sleeping berths, present in Garib Rath Trains. Berths are usually arranged as in 3AC but with three tiers across the width and three longways. They are slightly less well-appointed, usually no reading lights or curtained off gangways. Bedding is not included with fare.|
|CC||AC chair car: An air-conditioned seater coach with a total of five seats in a row used for day travel between cities.|
|EC||Executive class chair car: An air-conditioned coach with large spacious seats and legroom. It has a total of four seats in a row used for day travel between cities. This class of travel is only available on Shatabdi Express trains.|
|SL||Sleeper class: The sleeper class is the most common coach on IR, and usually ten or more coaches could be attached. These are regular sleeping coaches with three berths vertically stacked. In broad gauge, it carries 72 passengers per coach.|
|2S||Seater class: same as AC Chair car, without the air-conditioning. These may be reserved in advance or may be unreserved.|
|UR||Unreserved: The cheapest accommodation. The seats are usually made up of pressed wood in older coaches but cushioned seats are found in new coaches. These coaches are usually over-crowded and a seat is not guaranteed. Tickets are issued in advance for a minimum journey of more than 24 hours. Tickets issued are valid on any train on the same route if boarded within 24 hours of buying the ticket.|
- Palace on Wheels is a specially designed luxury tourist train service, frequently hauled by a steam locomotive, for promoting tourism in Rajasthan. The train has a 7 nights & 8 days itinerary, it departs from New Delhi (Day 1), and covers Jaipur (Day 2), Sawai Madhopur and Chittaurgarh (Day 3), Udaipur (Day 4), Jaisalmer (Day 5), Jodhpur (Day 6), Bharatpur and Agra (Day 7), return to Delhi (Day 8).
- Royal Rajasthan on Wheels a luxury tourist train service covers various tourist destinations in Rajasthan. The train takes tourists on a 7-day/8-night tour through Rajasthan. The train starts from New Delhi’s Safdarjung railway station (Day 1), and has stops at Jodhpur (Day 2), Udaipur and Chittaurgarh (Day 3), Ranthambore National Park and Jaipur (Day 4), Khajuraho (Day 5), Varanasi and Sarnath (Day 6), Agra (Day 7) and back to Delhi (Day 8).
- Maharaja Express a luxury train operated by IRCTC runs on five circuits covering more than 12 destinations across North-West and Central India, mainly centered around Rajasthan between the months of October to April.
- Deccan Odyssey luxury tourist train service covers various tourist destinations in Maharashtra and Goa. The 7 Nights / 8 Days tour starts from Mumbai (Day 1) and covers Jaigad Fort, Ganapatipule and Ratnagiri (Day 2),Sindhudurg, Tarkarli and Sawantwadi (Day 3), Goa (Day 4), Kolhapur and Pune (Day 5), Aurangabad and Ellora Caves (Day 6), Ajanta Caves and Nashik (Day 7), and back to Mumbai (Day 8).
- The Golden Chariot luxury train runs on two circuits Pride of the South and Splendor of the South.
- Mahaparinirvan Express an a/c train service also known as Buddhist Circuit Train which is run by IRCTC to attract Buddhist pilgrims. The 7 nights/8 Days tour starts from New Delhi (Day 1) and covers Bodh Gaya (Day 2),Rajgir and Nalanda (Day 3), Varanasi and Sarnath (Day 4), Kushinagar and Lumbini (Day 5 and 6), Sravasti (Day 7), Taj Mahal (Agra) (Day 8) before returning to New Delhi on (Day 8).
- Samjhauta Express is a train that runs between India and Pakistan. However, hostilities between the two nations in 2001 saw the line being closed. It was reopened when the hostilities subsided in 2004. Another train connecting Khokhrapar (Pakistan) and Munabao (India) is the Thar Express that restarted operations on 18 February 2006; it was earlier closed down after the 1965 Indo-Pak war.
- Lifeline Express is a special train popularly known as the “Hospital-on-Wheels” which provides healthcare to the rural areas. This train has a carriage that serves as an operating room, a second one which serves as a storeroom and an additional two that serve as a patient ward. The train travels around the country, staying at a location for about two months before moving elsewhere.
- Fairy Queen is the oldest operating locomotive in the world today, though it is operated only for specials between Delhi and Alwar. John Bull, a locomotive older than Fairy Queen, operated in 1981 commemorating its 150th anniversary. Gorakhpur railway station also has the distinction of being the world’s longest railway platform at 4,483 ft (1,366 m). The Ghum station along the Darjeeling Toy Train route is the second highest railway station in the world to be reached by a steam locomotive. The Mumbai–Pune Deccan Queen has the oldest running dining car in IR.
- Vivek Express, between Dibrugarh and Kanyakumari, has the longest run in terms of distance and time on Indian Railways network. It covers 4,286 km (2,663 mi) in about 82 hours and 30 minutes.
- Bhopal Shatabdi Express is the fastest train in India today having a maximum speed of 160 km/h (99 mph) on the Faridabad–Agra section. The fastest speed attained by any train is 184 km/h (114 mph) in 2000 during test runs.
- Special Trains are those trains started by Indian Railways for any specific event or cause which includes Jagriti Yatra trains, Kumbh Mela Trains., emergency trains, etc.
- Double-decker AC trains have been introduced in India. The first double decker train was Pune-Mumbai Sinhagad express plying between Pune and Mumbai while the first double-decker AC train in the Indian Railways was introduced in November 2010, running between the Dhanbad and Howrah stations having 10 coaches and 2 power cars. On 16 April 2013, Indian Railways celebrated its 160 years of nationwide connectivity with a transportation of 23 million passengers in a day.
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