It’s Easier to Get An American Visa Than a Reserved Berth on The Indian Railways…

However, here anyway are the air conditioned classes on the Indian Railways in case you want to try them.

Tooth Truth Roopa Vikesh


My dad and his railway coolie on their way to the platform at New Delhi Railway Station. Photo by the author.

In an earlier article about squatty potties on the Indian Railways, I talked about the three-tier AC railway coach.

I realized that by saying “third AC”, I wasn’t clear about the other kinds of classes on the Indian Railways.

As a railwayman’s daughter and India-based Indian citizen for my 47 years, who’s travelled by every kind of class there is on the Indian Railways, I thought I should clarify the railway air conditioned classes in a proper article thinking that one of you might travel to India and might even manage to get a reservation on one of our trains.

Who am I kidding? America hands out tourist visas more easily than the Indian Railways hands out reservations.

Still, for the interest of knowing what might be available if you book ahead well (enough) in time —

Booking is done online 120 days ahead of time. Most seats get booked up the day the reservation opens. Tickets can be cancelled for a small penalty, so people prefer to book and wait rather than suffer through other, more unpredictable ways of traveling like buses or more expensive options like flights. So all the berths are always full! Photo by the author.

There are three kinds of classes on the fully air conditioned trains on Indian Railways.

The Three-tier AC coach

A three-tier AC coach seats 72. “Three tiers” refers to the three bunks one above the other in the main cabins of the coach. The side cabins have two berths each, making for twelve cabins like these per coach with eight bunks per cabin. Cabins are separated by curtains.

Sleeping times are enforced by the meals served. If everyone doesn’t go to bed at the same time (9pm) they can’t wake up in time for tea (6 am) and then where will we all sit?

Three of us seated on the sleeping berth of the lowest berth passenger. Middle and upper berth passengers sit on the lowest berth passenger’s seat during the day. Photo by the author.

The sleeping berth of the lowest berth passenger doubles (or triples) as a seating arrangement for the two berths above.

So if the passengers on the lowest berth and middle berths don’t wake up and…



Tooth Truth Roopa Vikesh

I don’t just create smiles, I inspire them! Dentist, mom—Jamshedpur, India.