Indian Railways

Transport Lifeline of the Nation: Different Train Types in India

Indian Railways has a large network of trains running in different parts of India. It is the fourth largest rail network in the world after the USA, China, and Russia. So it becomes a daunting task to keep track of all the trains and operate them smoothly with higher efficiency. So Indian Railways has devised several different types of trains according to different routes, people, and budget. So, let’s explore the list of all the different types of railways in India and what’s their specialty. If you are reluctant to order pantry car food while travelling due to its unappealing taste, then you can try to order food online in train from RailMitra app. We have a wide variety of food options to choose from including regional food as well. So download our food ordering app or visit our website to get fresh and delicious food directly from restaurants right at your seat.

  1. Rajdhani Express:
    Rajdhani Express trains were introduced to connect various state capitals with the national capital Delhi. The first Rajdhani Express train was started between Howrah and New Delhi in 1969 covering a total distance of 1445 km in just 17 hours and 20 minutes. Currently, there are 24 Rajdhani Express trains running. The word “Rajdhani” translates to capital in English. These trains get the highest priority in Indian rail network. These are fully air-conditioned and house AC First Class (HA1), AC 2-Tier, and AC 3-Tier coaches. Rajdhani Express trains serve complimentary meals inside the train as per the time of the day and duration of the journey. Apart from that, few Rajdhani Express trains also have free WiFi facilities in them.
  2. Toy Trains:
    These are small trains operating in several mountain railway lines. These trains were built by the British in the late 19th and early 20th century to connect hilly areas to the mainland. Today, toy trains have become a part of tourism in India. There are five major toy train routes running in India.

    • Kalka-Shimla Railway, Himachal Pradesh
    • Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, West Bengal
    • Nilgiri Mountain Railway, TamilNadu
    • Matheran Hill Railway, Maharashtra
    • Kangra Valley Railway, Himachal Pradesh

    First three of these train routes – the Kalka-Shimla Railway, Nilgiri Mountain Railway, and Darjeeling Himalayan Railways are UNESCO world heritage sites because of their marvelous engineering. Toy trains pass through scenic mountain valleys and allow passengers to experience the natural beauty of mountains. That makes them one of the major tourist attractions for people from all over India and abroad.

  3. Garib Rath:
    Garib Rath is made of two words “Garib” meaning poor and “Rath” meaning “chariot”. So, this train can be called “poor people’s chariot” in English. The AC facility provided and fare of this train is completely justifies its name. Now travelling in Tier-3 AC coaches for long journeys is possible for middle and low-income families as well. The ticket fare of Garib Rath train is less than 2/3rd of normal express and superfast trains. The first Garib Rath train was started in 2005 between Saharsa in Bihar to Amritsar in Punjab by the then-railway minister Laloo Prasad. Currently there are 26 pairs of Garib Rath trains operating in India. Only Tier-3 AC cars are available in these trains and they can reach a maximum speed of 130 km/h which is on par with other superfast trains. Garib Rath trains have narrower seats and berths to accommodate more passengers and there is a side middle berth in these trains which is unique to them.
  4. Duronto Express:
    These trains were started in 2009 to serve long distance routes with very few stops except technical halts. Duronto Express trains are easily identified by their iconic yellow-green color and blue stripes printed all over. The speed of these trains surpasses Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains which make them a popular choice for people going on long journeys. Do you know what “Duronto” means? It is a Bengali word meaning non-stop or restless. The first Duronto express train was started between Kolkata and New Delhi by the then-railway minister Mamta Banarjee. These trains are famous for providing services on par with Rajdhani Express at lower costs. Currently, there are 26 pairs of Duronto Express trains running in India.
  5. Semi-high Speed Trains
    It all started in 2016 with the launch of Gatimaan Express train between Agra and New Delhi. Now Indian Railways has identified ten more routes to operate more semi-high-speed trains in India. Currently, Vande Bharat Express, Gatimaan Express, and Tejas Express trains are categorized in semi-high-speed trains.The speed of semi-high speed trains can reach up to 200 km/h but due to technical reasons, their speed is restricted to 150-160 km/h. All semi-high-speed trains are equipped with modern amenities such as WiFi facilities, automatic doors, LCD screen, snack tables, coffee vending machine, magazines, hand dryers, touch-less water taps, and bio-vacuum toilets among others.
  6. Local Trains
    Commonly called Passenger trains, these are slow and economical trains which stop at every station (or halt) on their journey. The average speed of these trains is 30-40 km/h and they have generally unreserved coaches. Local trains are the best means to travel to places within a city or different cities in the same district or state. Earlier, these trains were hauled by locomotives but now Indian Railways has replaced almost all passenger trains with EMU, DMU, and MEMU trains. You can buy a ticket for your journey a minute before a local train arrives at the station. It’s the UTS app through which one can buy season tickets online. Moreover, you can get a monthly pass for your journey to save money if you travel daily in these trains.
  7. Mail/Express/Superfast Trains
    These trains are very similar in their route and running time. But there’re some differences in their number of stops and running speed. Mail/ Express trains are almost the same apart from a slight difference that Express trains don’t have an RMS (Railway Mail Service) coach in them. Unlike Mail/ Express trains, superfast trains have fewer stops and they have an average speed of at least 55 km/h. There is an extra superfast surcharge added to the total fare for the journey in superfast trains. Some popular categories of superfast trains in India are Humsafar express, Sampark Kranti Express, Yuva Express, Antyodaya Express, Kavi Guru Express, Vivek Express, Rajya Rani Express, Mahamana Express, and Suvidha Express. Humsafar Express houses modern amenities such as GPS-based passenger information system, fire & smoke detectors, comfortable chairs, etc.
  8. Freight Trains
    These are the trains designed and operated specifically to transport heavy loads from one place to another. There are different designs of coaches made to transport different types of materials such as coal, fish, vegetables, oil, construction materials, etc. They are generally long distance trains from one city to another with some technical halts. Sometimes, more than one freight trains are joined together to form a large train over 2 km long. This is done to transport a very large quantity of freight materials with ease and efficiency. Did you know the fact that goods carrier trains or commonly called freight trains generate the highest revenue for Indian Railways?
  9. Recommended Read: Train Coach Classes and their comfort level for Traveling

  10. Suburban Railways
    Suburban railways are operated and maintained by Indian Railways. They have become the lifeline of people living in suburban areas of big metro cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune, Delhi, and Kolkata. Suburban rail draws large numbers of passengers on a daily basis mainly working people who come to the main business center of cities in the morning and return to their homes in suburban parts in the evening. These trains often get separate tracks for running but sometimes they also share the route with long distance trains. The most common trains for suburban railways are EMU and DMU trains.
  11. Metro Rail and Monorails
    Metros are defined as high-capacity intra-city rail transit systems generally found in urban areas. These are the most convenient and comfortable mode of travellers for urban dwellers. Metro rail services were introduced to reduce congestion on densely packed roads. Currently 10 cities of India – Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Kochi, and Lucknow have metro rail system running successfully. With a total length of 330 km and 221 total stations, Delhi Metro is the largest and most successful metro rail in India. Monorails are kind of elevated rail-based intra-city trains that run on a single rail track or a beam. Mumbai monorail system is currently the only running monorail in India. There are 10 more upcoming monorail routes that are proposed for the near future.
  12. Trams Train
    These trains originated in Kolkata during the British times. They look very similar to trolleys and streetcars. These are small trains often 1 or 2 coaches long that run across and along the roadways. Calcutta Tramways Company (CTC) operates and maintains tram rail network in Kolkata. Trams trains were started in several different Indian cities such as Chennai, Kanpur, Delhi, Mumbai, and Nagpur but they were discontinued everywhere except Kolkata due to low revenue generation.
  13. Shatabdi & Janshatabdi Express Trains
    Shatabdi Express trains are small to medium distance running trains operated by Indian Railways. They connect Metro cities with other important cities for business, pilgrimage, or tourism purposes. These trains have a distinguishing feature that they are day-trains and return to the origin station on the same day. New Delhi-Bhopal Shatabdi Express was the fastest running train of India until the launch of Gatimaan Express in 2016. Shatabdi Express trains are considered prestigious and get the second priority in Indian rail network after Rajdhani Express trains. Jan Shatabdi Express trains are a more economical version of Shatabdi trains. These were launched for low and medium-income families to complete their journeys in less time with more comfort. Unlike Shatabdi trains, Jan Shatabdi trains have 2S classes in them and their fare does not include food charges.
  14. Double Decker Express
    These trains were started to ease the congestion and accommodate more passengers for the same route. Double decker trains can be AC or non-AC. The first AC double decker train was started in 2011 between Dhanbad and Howrah. But, do you know the fact that the Flying Ranee Express that runs between Surat to Mumbai was the first double decker (non-AC) train started in India? As the name suggests, these trains have two-level seating arrangements for passengers. Double decker trains get high priority and they are equipped with modern facilities like WiFi based information systems, automatic food vending machines, AC coaches, and many others. Moreover, double decker trains have GPS based passenger information systems and diffused LED lighting. These trains allow passengers to get last minute confirmed reservations for their journey. Currently there are 6 AC and 2 non-AC Double Decker trains operating in India.
  15. Luxury Trains
    Apart from regular passenger and freight trains, Indian Railways has also launched several luxury trains that are not meant for regular train travellers. These are special premium trains that will take you back to the era of kings and royals. They run on a special travel circuit and cover different tourist destinations of India. These trains have high-end pneumatic and hydraulic suspension systems which make sure that travellers have a comfortable and jerk-free ride. Travelling in these trains gives a one-of-a-kind experience of Indian culture and hospitality. Luxury trains are equipped with facilities similar to a 5-star hotel such as LED TV, phone services, WiFi, attached bathroom, mini bars, shower facilities, dining area, saloons, butlers, laundry, spa facility, and paramedic for emergency services, among others. The top 5 luxury trains operated and maintained by Indian Railways are The Deccan Odyssey, The Maharajas’ Express, Palace on Wheels, Royal Rajasthan on Wheels, The Golden Chariot, and The Deccan Odyssey. The fare for these premium and royal trains starts from ₹300,000 and goes up to ₹950,000 for a single trip.
  16. Bullet Trains
    Bullet trains are semi-high to high speed trains proposed to run in the near future. Several different routes have been identified for running bullet trains in India. The first bullet train in India will run between Mumbai and Ahmedabad at a whopping speed of 320 km/h. The rail network is under construction and expected to be completed by 2022. Soon, we can see high speed bullet trains in India. Fares for bullet trains will be Rs.2500- Rs.3000 which is still less than a flight ticket. For Mumbai-Ahmedabad route, bullet trains will complete its total journey of 500 km in just 3 hours.

How many train types of Indian Railways were you familiar with or you had traveled in. We would love to hear from you.

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Author: Rohit Choubey


Rohit is an avid blogger as well an eminent digital marketeer. He has immense passion towards food blogging. His hobbies include travelling, cooking and watching movies. He is the content analyst for RailMitra.