Around India in (slightly less than) 80 trains.

The Indian rail network is enormous, Wikipedia informs me that more than 23 million people use the network each day. It was always something I had in mind when thinking about India and I couldn’t wait to experience the trains as soon as we got there.

Sunrise on the train between Jaisalmer and Jodhpur:

Sunrise on Indian trains Two months later and I can safely say that catching trains around India has been one of the highlights. For us it was definitely preferable to the long bus journeys where we had to share the seat with our overpacked bags. It was also nice not having to watch the driver going on the wrong side of the road and normally speeding up at the sight of on-coming traffic.

Pinion super excited to leave Varanasi:

Varanasi station In total we took 18 trains and a handful of metros in Delhi and Kolkata. This is nothing in comparison with Monisha Rajesh’s mammoth 80 trains. Sometimes we just needed our feet on solid ground! We traveled in most of the different classes available, ranging from the fancy but farty AC2 to General class where we got confused and ended up in the carriage apparently reserved for military personnel.

Pinion loving the AC3 upper berth on our way to Agra from Udaipur:

AC3 sleeper Indian trains Unfortunately the cost of First class was a bit prohibitive, but we did get to use their loos when we nearly missed our train and had to jump on at the last minute. The trains have barriers between different classes, to stop the rich mixing with the riff-raff of the Sleeper class (us) and so when we jumped on further up the train we were told to walk down as far as possible and then get off at the next station to run down to our carriage. As far as possible just happened to be First class.

Waiting to escape from first class:

Indian trainsMost of our long distance journeys were in sleeper class, normally spent chatting to families or being stared at by children or slightly creepy men. People were genuinely interested in what we were doing and where we were going, there was no opportunity to avoid all eye contact and conversation like in the UK here. Sleeper class has open windows (with bars) and is the way that ‘normal’ Indians travel. The richer you are the more likely you are to pay for AC classes. People in the AC classes were definitely a lot less interested in us and spent most of their time playing on their smartphones. It was like traveling on the train at home.

Card game to pass the time:

Indian trains card gameTop five train journey highlights:

  1. Being offered rum at 10am by the soldiers who were on leave on the Agra – Delhi train.
  2. Making friends with a family on the Jaisalmer to Jodhpur train. They were on their way back from holidays and were really inquisitive. They asked if we had permission to go from our parents – still not sure on the answer to that one! Also wondered how we coped without a man – pretty easily. They offered us food, took selfies with us and got Pinion to help them on a level of Candy Crush that they were stuck on.
  3. The chai and coffee sellers who have a distinct call so you know they’re coming, it sticks in your head so that you hear it days after being on a train. .
  4. Music on the trains in Rajasthan. A pretty nice way to wake up, certainly beats my alarm clock.
  5. Practicing my aiming skills on a squat toilet whilst puking repetitively – whilst this wasn’t exactly fun it was definitely an experience.

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