Sleeper Class details & photos.

#1 Dec 18th, 2007, 17:47
Join Date:
Sep 2001
  • steven_ber is offline
(Also see photos at bottom of post)

Sleeper Class is easily the best 'value for money' class on Indian Railways and maybe 80% of carriages on medium and long distance trains are Sleeper Class carriages, Sleeper Class is basic and has no air conditioning, it is the choice of most budget backpackers.

I've got a very strong opinion about Sleeper Class (and it's still my preferred class), but it's just a personal opinion, if you are worried about travelling in Sleeper Class, don't do it, try 3-tier air con instead, however, if you think Sleeper Class travel will be an interesting challenge or a great way to meet local people, go for it, you're very unlikely to regret it, as with all travel, you need a positive attitude, a sense of humour, a little understanding and a lot of smiles.

Fare comparison table - SL = Sleeper Class.

The term 'Sleeper Class' is often misunderstood by tourists who think it is the only class for sleeping, this isn't true, berths for sleeping are also available in First Class air con(1A), the rare First Class non air con(FC), 2-tier air con(2A) and 3-tier air con(3A).

The following info is all about Broad Gauge Sleeper Class carriages, Metre Gauge Sleeper Class carriages do not have side berths, however, there are only a dozen or so routes (that tourists would use) that still have metre gauge trains, and most of these will be converted to broad gauge this year, so it's not really worth going into detail about the metre gauge carriages.


A Sleeper Class carriage consists of 9 open sections, each section has 2 (shorter) side berths (side upper and side lower) and 6 longer inside berths (upper, middle and lower in 2 rows facing each other).

The carriage changes for daytime travel (7-8 in the morning till 8-10 at night), the padded 'mattress' of the lower side berth lifts to reveal 2 seats and the 2-part mattress forms 2 comfortable back rests, these seats face each other and are single window seats, perfect for a couple travelling together, the side upper berth remains fixed in place.

The inside 6 berths also become 6 seats, each lower berth (189.5cms long) becomes a seat for 3 people, the middle berth drops down to become a backrest, the upper berth remains fixed in place, so you have 2 x 3-person seats that face each other.

There are plenty of fans throughout the carriage, but they're not needed in the winter and are probably useless in the hot summers, there are switches to turn them on and off.

The above diagram is not to scale and is just to give an indication of the seat/berth layout, I've noticed the berth layout can also be in the opposite direction (number 1 at the right), but the seat/berth numbers and what they correspond to will always be as indicated above.

Measurements (cms.) : -

All seats & berths have padding that is at least 8cms thick, though the inside lower berth padding gets a lot more use than any other, so can seem a little flatter and harder, though it's still comfortable.

All measurements are 'usable space' instead of actual length, for example, if there is a 3cm gap between the berth and the wall, I measured up to the wall, this is because the gap adds to the usable space and doesn't interfere with your comfort.

Inside lower berth (LB) - length 189.5, width 56, the lower berth is about 45cms above the floor and there is a further 58cms to the underside of the middle berth.

Inside middle berth (MB) - length 192, width 58, there is a clearance of 59cms to the underside of the upper berth.

Inside upper berth (UB) - length 189, width 57, the roof of the train is curved, the clearance from the upper berth to the roof is 81cms, but this reduces sharply to 33cms towards the side of the train, if you sleep with your head towards the side of the train it can seem a little claustrophobic (though I still sleep this way), there is no such problem if you sleep with your feet towards the side of the train (though there is nothing to stop your 'pillow' falling off the end of the berth onto the main corridor floor).

To give an idea of space, the gap between the edge of each upper berth is 54cms.

Side lower berth (SL) - length 166.5, width 55, the side lower berth is about 57cms above the floor and there is a further 90cms to the underside of the upper berth.

Side upper berth (SU) - length 166.5, width 57.5, the roof of the train is curved, the clearance from the side upper berth to the roof is 87cms, this reduces to 58cms towards the side of the train, though you won't even notice it.

The length of the side berths is more of a problem than it would seem, because the length indicated is the length between 2 partition walls, so the length is absolute, there is no space for your feet to hang over the end of the berth, however, if you can sleep with your legs bent, the side berths are still a good choice, particularly if part of your journey is during daylight.

Berth choice (& chances of getting preferred choice)

The berth choice you make will not affect your chance of getting a confirmed berth, even if your choice isn't available, you'll simply be given another berth.

Berth choice depends on many things, and the following are just the opinions of one person, others may disagree.

For all inside berths, read the cons section below.

Inside lower berth - Good if you're pregnant or elderly* , also good if you don't feel comfortable climbing up to the upper berth (read about the climb below), long berths, very easy to use, window seat in daytime and sleeping by the window at night (though side lower berths are much better for this), however, they can be draughty (see cons below), Indian people seem to prefer lower berths, so it may be more difficult to get one, probably the main problem is that you have to wait for the other passengers to 'go to bed' before you can go to sleep, the backrest for your seat is what becomes the middle berth, and until that is lifted into place, you have to sit.

* there's an additional lower berth quota (2 berths per carriage) for pregnant women or elderly people, though you can also use the general quota as well.

Inside middle berth - Hmmm, Long berths, OK to get into & out of, middle seat during the day, it's difficult to think of any advantages other than you have a better chance of getting a middle berth than any other.

Inside upper berth - The choice of most tourists, aisle seat during the day, long fixed sleeping berth that can be used 24 hours a day, upper berths aren't perfect though, they can feel slightly claustrophobic, and you're very close to the fans and the light, it's quite a climb up to the berth, most people would need to stand on a lower berth to get to the bottom of the ladder (about 110cms from the floor), I still feel uncomfortable standing on someone's bed at 3 in the morning, it's also a pain trying to get things from your backpack (if you keep it on your berth), but overall, a great choice of berth, especially when you feel tired during the day or have had enough of the "what country" conversations, you have a reasonable chance of getting your berth choice when booking, one small advantage of an inside upper berth, you can put your shoes on top of the ceiling fan.

Side berths (lower and upper) - short berths, only 166.5cms, they run parallel to the side of the carriage, so you're either sleeping with your head or your feet facing the direction you're travelling in, this can feel strange when you first try it, you may also feel a little more vulnerable as the whole length of your body is next to the aisle that everyone walks down, HOWEVER, despite all of the above, a side berth is still my preferred choice even though I'm only a couple of cms shorter than the length of the berth, this means I have to sleep with my legs bent (as I can't sleep with my feet in the standing position), but I'm comfortable with that.

A side upper berth can be used 24 hours a day, but if you're flexible, so can a lower berth, just wait for the other person to go to their upper berth and then pull the backrests down to make your berth, this is much easier if the person in the upper berth is your travel partner.

The side lower berth has a gap in the middle and can sometimes be a little uncomfortable. (see photos)

The distance from the side upper berth to the roof is not a lot more than the same for the inside upper berths, but somehow it feels like a lot more, maybe it's because I can sit on the side upper berths, but I have to lean forward to sit on an inside upper berth, and apart from the shorter length, the side upper berth doesn't feel in any way claustrophobic.

The MASSIVE advantage of side berths is the single window seats used during the day, these are (in my opinion) the best seats on Indian trains, the constantly changing view from the open window can be amazing and can rival any tourist destination.

The lower side berth can be draughty. (See cons below).

You have a good chance of getting a side upper berth as there are 9 on the train and not many people try to get them, a side lower berth will be difficult to get though, there are 9 berths, but 5 are kept back for RAC seats so are not available, also, I looked at many reservation charts and it seems that the Train Ticket Examiner has a side lower berth reserved in every 2nd Sleeper Class carriage, so out of 9 berths, only an average 3.5 berths are available at the time of booking.

Extra people in side berths (RAC ticket holders).

There can be a lot of confusion when boarding the train and going to the side berths, you will often find too many people, 3 persons for the 2 side berths, this is normal, the person with the side upper berth will have a confirmed ticket, the other 2 persons will have RAC (Reserved Against Cancellation) tickets, for nightime journeys - this entitles them to a seat, the lower berth will remain as 2 seats until one of the RAC ticket holders is given a berth, for daytime journeys, the side lower berth may be left in the sleeping position, this allows 3 persons to sit there, though this isn't good if you want to look out of the window, however, the side upper berth can be used by one passenger, the confirmed ticket holder for that berth would be in control of who uses the upper berth.

The RAC tickets are issued because a lot of people cancel at the last minute or simply don't turn up for the train.


There are 4 toilets per carriage (for 72 people), one of these toilets is a western style toilet with a seat, ALWAYS leave the seat in the UP position after you use the toilet, if you leave it in the down position people will pee on the seat, the other 3 toilets are Indian style squat toilets, a squat toilet is difficult to use at the best of times, but on a moving train it's an experience never to be forgotten, and likely to be the source of many an AFTER dinner conversation, the main problem for foreign tourists is that we have no need in life to squat down with our feet remaining flat on the floor, try it, our muscles are not used to this position so we always end up squatting down on our toes, try doing this with your trousers around your ankles on a moving train, it really takes a lot of practice.

Next to the toilet you'll find a sink with a tap, there is also a tap low down next to the squat toilets, there is no soap, towel or toilet paper, you must take your own, the floor of the toilet is nearly always wet, be it water or whatever else.

Be extra careful with your money belt or anything else you may be carrying, all toilets have just a large hole direct through to the track, anything dropped down the hole will not be seen again.

Do not use the toilet when the train is at a station.

There are also 2 extra sinks outside the toilets, one at each end of the carriage, each one also has a mirror, however, even with 6 sinks per carriage, you may still have to wait to use a sink early in the morning.

Carriage Temperature

The variations in temperature are one of the main problems in Sleeper Class carriages, the whole of North India (for this purpose, north India is anything north of the Mumbai-Hyderabad line) can be chilly at night from the start of November till mid February, especially on a moving carriage, it is not possible to keep all of the draughts out of the carriage and you will find yourself falling asleep at 21:00 feeling warm then waking up at 2 in the morning feeling cold (especially your feet), this problem affects everyone, but can be worse in lower, middle and side lower berths because these are closest to the windows.

I mention feet because everyone takes their shoes off to sleep, I often wake up in the night, put my shoes on and walk around (for a cigarette and for a chai if we stop at a station), I really notice the cold when I then take my shoes off again.

There are no sheets, blankets or pillows provided in Sleeper Class.

A light sleeping bag would be perfect for these chilly overnight trips, but if you (like me) can't sleep in a sleeping bag, a warm hat, extra thick socks and a warm jacket/cardigan/jumper should be enough. (I had one of those thick 'builders shirts' on my last trip and it was enough)

The daytime temperature (from 8 or 9am till about 8 or 9pm) is perfect in the same area at the same time of year, in fact a t-shirt is all that is needed.

The temperature in the south is a lot better at this time of year, both day and night.

The heat can be a big problem in the north from mid April till September (up to 48+), I've been told that it can be unbearable, but I've not travelled in the north at this time of year, so can't really comment, I've been told that it's still very hot when the monsoon arrives, and all the windows get closed to keep the rain out, and this adds to the uncomfortable feeling in the very hot carriages.

The heat in the south is still a problem, though not as bad as the north, it's more of a humid heat (up to 35+ with very high humidity), but I felt comfortable with it, but maybe I was lucky. (I was only travelling around Bangalore and Goa and I'm sure it's worse further south, hopefully others can reply with their experiences)

Smoking is no longer allowed on Indian trains and platforms, but if you do smoke, Sleeper Class (or 2nd class unreserved) is your best option, it's still common to see people smoking in the area between carriages, the toilets are also an option. (see also 'sitting by open carriage door)

Other things that are not allowed include drinking alcohol, gambling and using cooking equipment.

Sitting by the open carriage door with nothing to obstruct your view is one of the best experiences in India, and is easy to do in Sleeper Class (or 2S), in higher classes the train staff often ask you to move, be careful not to have your legs dangling from the doorway as your feet would be lower than many platforms, I used to sit with my feet on the top step whilst making sure my knees were not sticking out, these days though I normally sit with my back against the heavy carriage door and just one foot on the top step, it feels safer, watch out for that carriage door, it can suddenly start to swing closed as the train puts it's brakes on, also keep an eye out for bridges, it can really give you a shock when you first cross over a high bridge and realise that there's nothing to stop you falling off the train and over the bridge, also make sure you go back to your seat/berth as soon as you feel a little tired, I didn't and found myself nodding off, very scary.


Sleeper Class carriages will be dusty, some would say dirty, wipe your seat & berth with a damp cloth or a couple of wet wipes/baby wipes, but wait till the train is moving before you do this, boarding time can be chaotic and thieves know how to take advantage of the confusion.

If you plan to sit by the open carriage door you will find the floor is dusty/dirty, I still just sit on the floor then quickly dust myself down when I get up, you could sit on a piece of paper.

Clothes will become a little dusty on a long journey and you will feel a bit dirty yourself, however, if you're overly concerned about the dust, Sleeper Class may not be for you.

You can wash your hands and face in the sinks at both ends of the carriage or in the toilets, you can also brush your teeth and shave, I've tried 'showering' in one of the toilets (just using one of the tiffin tins), but I wouldn't recommend it, it's difficult, there is nowhere to hang your clothes/towel and it's a selfish misuse of the limited water available on a train. *

It's best to wait till you get to your destination, if you're going to a large station you will find an 'Upper Class waiting room', try to walk in, as a foreigner, half of the time the staff will assume you have an upper class (Air Con) ticket and will not ask to see the ticket, once inside, you will find a large clean bathroom area with 2 or 3 large shower rooms, there is space to hang your clothes, towel and backpack, but I can't remember ever finding hot water or a towel, also in the bathrooms are a number of toilets (both seat and squat) and lots of sinks and mirrors.

Be careful though, there are separate upper class waiting rooms for men and women, I got some terrible looks when I mistakenly showered (and.....) in the ladies waiting room last month.

Also on the large stations, there are Sleeper Class waiting rooms, these are not so spacious & clean, but are still OK to use.

*The water in Sleeper Class carriages is limited and sometimes on a long journey you may find there is no water left in the whole carriage, try the next carriage, then the next and so on, a few bits of tissue paper (name understood in India) will be worth it's weight in gold if you go to use the toilet and find the water has run out.

Most long distance trains have long halts (20 minutes or so) along the route; this allows the station staff to re-fill the water tanks on the train.

I've travelled over 10,000kms in Sleeper Class and have seen many insects and some Cockroaches, perhaps I've been really lucky in Sleeper Class, but in my experience, cockroaches are more of a problem in the air con classes, maybe it's got something to do with the air con system, I don't know, I'm no expert.

I really can't comment on mosquitoes in Sleeper Class, I can't remember ever noticing them, though to be fair, I don't really notice them on my travels, I'm the kind of person who can be bitten 20 times and not realise, so I'll leave others to comment on any mosquito problems.


The windows in Sleeper Class are open with 4 bars on the outside of the window, the bars obstruct the view a little bit, but not much, you soon get used to them, but because there isn't a fixed glass window (like there is in all air con classes) you can see, smell and almost feel India as you're travelling (air con carriages can feel a little sterile).

There are 2 additional window options, a metal shutter (to keep out the sun and the rain) and a glass (completely see through) window, both of these are housed in the space above the window and can be dropped down and locked into place, try to clean the glass window for better views.

These open windows are wonderful when you pull into a station, vendors walk up to your window and sell you Chai, coffee, food, snacks and newspapers, but you also get beggars coming to your window.

If you sleep with the window open, be careful where you leave things, people can put their hands through the bars and take things, so be careful.

The photos below show the glass window, then just the bars, then the metal shutter.

Emergency windows are located at seats 17, 23, 52 & 56, these windows have red bars that can be lifted up into the window housing above and locked open, then you have nothing to obstruct your view, a really great option.

The photos below are poor, but the only ones I have, they show the emergency bars in place and tucked away, the windows are the same size as the ones above, even though the photos are larger.

Children aged 5 and below 12 years are charged half the adult fare and are allowed a seat/berth of their own, children aged 4 and below travel free (though their details still need to be added to the reservation form), but they will not be allocated a seat/berth and must share with a person they're travelling with.


You are allowed 40 kg free luggage allowance and 10 kg marginal allowance per person, children aged 5 and below 12 years are allowed half of the free allowance.

The gap between the bottom of the inside lower berth and the floor is about 35cms, and the gap is about 38cms for the side berths, it's worth measuring your luggage to see if it will fit into this space.

You will find a metal wire below the lower berths, you can lock your luggage to the wire (a lock and chain can be purchased on most medium and large stations), if you prefer to keep your luggage in your berth, there are places to lock your luggage to, mainly the metal chains/bars that hold up the berths, however, you can't keep your luggage on a middle berth during the day, and the side berths are really too small to keep your luggage on the berth, there isn't a lot of room under the side berths for luggage, so if you have a lot of luggage, inside berths are best.


I'll leave others to comment on the food that is served on trains, I tried it a few times and found it bland and unappetising, so I either buy platform food, or get a restaurant to fill a Tiffin Carrier with food for longer journeys.

Be careful of moist food (like Omelettes) bought on a platform, they're often served on newspaper, but if you look around, you'll find the very poor Indian people collecting newspapers off the floor to sell to the food vendor.

A stainless steel tiffin carrier is ideal for long train journeys.

A nice meal for a long journey.

Fellow Passengers.

Sleeper Class has the widest variety of passengers of all the classes on Indian trains, there will be many families from very different backgrounds, some going on important pilgrimages, some going to weddings, others just going to see family members, there will be groups of men or women, some tourists, many men travelling alone for job interviews etc.

The amount of English spoken in Sleeper Class is a lot less than in air con classes, you'll always find people who speak a little English, but conversations with these people can be difficult (but can still be fun), sometimes you find yourself sitting with a family who speak excellent English.

You will always be warned not to accept food from strangers, and there is good reason for the warnings, criminals put drugs in food/drink and offer it to you, if you then consume the food/drink, you'll wake up many hours later and find all your valuables gone, however, this kind of crime is still very rare, so don't cut yourself off from the world and refuse anything from anyone, use your common sense, a man will not bring his wife, children and parents if his only intention is to rob you.

When a family offer you food, it's not an 'offer', they have decided they will share there food with you, a refusal can be hard for the family to understand, I've always felt safe and never refused food, and I've been given some fantastic food, some of the best I've had in India, the children of the family are often fascinated to watch a foreigner eating their food, and this is a wonderful way of getting chatting to them.

Sleeper Class passengers are normally very friendly, and you'll notice this more if you're travelling alone, I've had Indian families almost adopt me for the journey when they realise I'm travelling alone, the level of friendliness can be a shock for some travellers, especially those from more reserved countries.

Another wonderful Indian custom you may notice, especially if you're in an inside berth with a family or group of Indian friends travelling together, everything is shared, and without ever asking, it seems strange at first, but almost comforting when you get used to it, you put your newspaper down, someone will pick it up and start reading it, you put your drink down, someone will start to drink it, and so on....but you're expected to do the same with their stuff, I always feel like I've been accepted by the family when someone helps themselves to something of mine.

A few tips.....

Take some photos from home, family photos, pet photos, even photos of your home; your fellow passengers will be as fascinated by them as you are about India.

Ask if you can take a photo of your fellow passengers, then show them the photo (if digital camera used), kids love it.

Pass your iPod/mp3 around for others to listen to, always good fun.

Always remember that your fellow passengers are an extra 7 pairs of eyes looking after your luggage, a smile when you meet them is a very worthwhile investment.

Plug sockets.

I hope other members can supply more info here, as this was not something I was looking out for on my last trip.

However, on every single Sleeper Class carriage I used on my last trip (about 12), I saw people charging mobile phones, at one end of the carriage (maybe both ends, I wasn't really looking) on the wall that doesn't have a sink, there was a minimum of 2 x 3-pin sockets, as I said, people were using these to charge their mobile phones, though you would still need to use an adaptor, I use a simple one that I bought in India for about Rs60.

I don't know if plug sockets are available in all Sleeper Class carriages, I hadn't even noticed them on earlier trips, however, a few of the carriages I used on this trip were over 10 years old, and despite what Sleeper Class carriages look like, that's quite old for a carriage. (You’ll find the age of a carriage on the outside at the end of the carriage)

I don't think Sleeper Class is the place to use a laptop, but if you do, and you want to use these plug sockets, ask other indiamike members about any safety issues regarding these sockets, I really have no idea about the safety issues, though I've not seen anyone electrocuted yet.

A few Pros & Cons:-


Sleeper Class is easily the best value for money class on Indian Railways, and is incredibly cheap.

It's more comfortable than you'd imagine it to be.

99% of medium & long distance trains have Sleeper Class.

You get free, at seat entertainment and service from endless vendors selling everything you could imagine, to singing beggars, ear cleaners and Hijras.

There's a kind of 'realness' to travel in Sleeper Class, air con travel can have a feeling of being isolated from India (and lower class Indians).

The open windows are much preferred to the closed, and often tinted air con windows.

Sitting by the open carriage door is a lot easier in Sleeper Class.

Meeting many people, mostly from the lower classes/castes that you otherwise wouldn't meet, many of them have never met foreigners before.

Sleeper Class is also a lot safer than many people imagine it to be.


The heat in summer and cold at night in winter.

The draught at night in winter (in the north) can be awful.

The carriages regularly fill with extra passengers during the day, the inside lower berth that should sit 3, can often have 5 people sitting there, this is when the side berth seats are wonderful, one seat, one person.

The Superfast Rajdhani (expensive) and Garib Rath (cheap) trains do not have Sleeper Class, though as useful as those trains are; they only make up about 1% of all medium and long distance trains.

Can be dusty and dirty.

Can be difficult to have good conversations.

Side middle berths are very slowly (only a dozen or so trains so far) being introduced, these will add to the crowded feeling in Sleeper Class, especially during the day.

No showers in Sleeper Class.

No bedding supplied.

More beggars than air con classes.

You're more likely to find people smoking at the ends of the carriages.

Finding your carriage, then your seat/berth.

I will do a long post about finding your train and carriage, but that post will take some time to do, basically though, Sleeper Class coaches are numbered (S1, S2, S3 etc.), you will find this number next to your berth number on your ticket, e.g. 'S3-27' (coach S3, seat/berth 27), at bigger stations you will find an 'Enquiry' window near the main entrance or on the main platform (normally platform 1, or the platform closest to the main entrance), there will be a board displaying the train numbers, look for your train, on the same line there will be the platform number, and at the end of that line there will be a note to tell you if the train will be late, (RT = running to time, 15 = 15 minutes late, and so on), once you find the platform, there will be digital indicators hanging from the roof to tell you where each coach will be (only on larger stations).

Any difficulty, ask a porter, they know where every carriage will be on every train.

Have a look at the last photo below; it shows where to find the seat/berth numbering, (seat/berth 25, 26 & 27) by window and behind seat.

Other threads you may find useful.

Advice on 37 hour train ride. (how to find out)

Attached Images
Sleeper-Class-daytime-2.jpg Sleeper-Class-daytime-1.jpg Sleeper-Class-nightime-1.jpg Sleeper-Class-nightime-2.jpg Sleeper-Class-side-berth-da.jpg SL-Class-side-berth-night-1.jpg SL-class-side-night-2.jpg Sleeper-class-with-pass.jpg outside-SL-windows,-Chitrak.jpg seat-and-berth-numbering.jpg 
Last edited by steven_ber; Jan 14th, 2008 at 14:42..
#2 Jan 3rd, 2008, 16:20
Join Date:
Aug 2003
  • guerik is offline
Such a great thread, steven_ber! Wish I'd read it before booking my first trains, I would have caught onto sleeper class sooner
I'd like to add that as no bedding is provided, I find an old/cheap cotton dupatta a nice replacement for a sheet- the vinyl berths get a bit sticky if it's hot.
#3 Jan 3rd, 2008, 16:51
Join Date:
Jan 2005
  • machadinha is offline

Thumbs up

Fantastic work as always, Steve. Hats off
#4 Jan 3rd, 2008, 17:02
Join Date:
Oct 2006
Kolkata. INDIA
  • Bhaswaran is offline

Thumbs up

Excellent Steve. is a journey.....and the journey is more important than the destination........

Photos in Indiamike :

Photos in Flickr :
#5 Jan 3rd, 2008, 17:47
Join Date:
Mar 2007
  • Aishah is offline
Excellent ARTICLE Steven! A hint here for Mods or Administrator!
Those bunks look very similar to 2A ones - are they slightly narrower? Agree with you re looking out the windows - a/c carriage windows are appalling - here is certainly clear vision.
Train food you mentioned - the only time in the last 4 yrs i was sick was after a samosa on the train.. I never buy train food now.
Great stuff - I enjoyed this read with excellent information.
Every cloud has a silver lining!
#6 Jan 3rd, 2008, 17:57
Join Date:
Sep 2001
  • steven_ber is offline
Originally Posted by Aishah View Post ARTICLE! A hint here for Mods or Administrator!
I had a choice, new thread or article, I chose the thread.

Sleeper Class is different for everyone, my comments are just that, the comments of one person.

I want other people to add their own comments, an article would be almost like saying the article was fact, and not just the opinion of one person.

I noticed on my last trip that I'd got quite a bit wrong in the past about Indian Railways, I don't mind that, I'm only human and make mistakes, but what was more worrying is that nobody had corrected me, and that hurt.

I think it's the ridiculous 'train guy' tag that people seem to have attach to me, OK, I liked it at first, but now it's a real pain and I think some members may be wary of correcting me if I get anything wrong, and I just know I will get other things wrong in the future.

But, what to do????
#7 Jan 3rd, 2008, 17:57
Join Date:
Oct 2004
Chennai, India
  • Nick-H is offline
What gets me, is most peoplw wouldn't have done that much work, research, and writing, without a commission and a cheque at the end of it.

Hats Off to you, Steven!
Life gets aadhar every day.
#8 Jan 3rd, 2008, 18:06
Join Date:
Sep 2001
  • steven_ber is offline
Originally Posted by Nick-H View Post What gets me, is most peoplw wouldn't have done that much work, research, and writing, without a commission and a cheque at the end of it.

Hats Off to you, Steven!
I'll have a word with Indian Railways about the commission, if they offer me some money, I'll give them a list of 61 payment gateways, though none will work.

I researched all the different classes in detail for another project, to tell the truth, I was having such a crap trip that I was glad to have something to do.
#9 Jan 3rd, 2008, 18:25
Join Date:
Mar 2007
  • Aishah is offline
I can see your point Steven, re Thread not Article. From what I've worked out there are only a very few no. of people on IM with such broad knowledge about trains, timetables etc. I think it is marvellous the help you and the few others (probably less than the fingers on one hand if I were to hazard a guess) have given to thousands, not only to the posters but the silent readers. Even if at times you are 'wrong', you and anyone else can only do the best they know at the time, and things are constantly changing as we all know.
And none of those IRCTC Gateways seem to work for me - I wonder if it is because my Visa is Australian and my computer Indian going via Indian servers etc. or whatever techno stuff is involved. My Visa works perfectly for Oz stuff e.g. renewing Domain Name etc. or booking Air NZ ticket but not for Indian Railways!
#10 Jan 6th, 2008, 13:49
Join Date:
Feb 2007
  • Mickey S is offline

Sleeper Class: The "Real" India?

I've often seen it said on this forum that Sleeper Class is the "Real" India, and the best way of meeting people.

On my recent trip to India (I returned yesterday) I decided to give it a go. Once during the daytime, between Jaisalmer and Bikaner, and once at night between Bikaner and Jaipur. And it was not nice.

The daytime journey started off quite pleasantly. There was no-one else in the entire Sleeper carriage (the only one on the otherwise unreserved Jaisalmer-Bikaner daytime train). It was a nice day and the novelty of having an unobstructed view through the windows was quite exciting. But it was dirty, dusty and very draughty and sand continued to come through the windows and doors. It was no better than the unreserved 2nd Class we had travelled between Jodhpur and Jaisalmer, and certainly not worth the additional expense.

The night-time journey from Bikaner to Jaipur was, undoubtedly, the most unpleasant train journey I have ever made in India. The carriage was packed, noisy, filthy, smelly and very cold and draughty. Station stops were noisy affairs, and after each one the ticket inspector had to force people without tickets out of the carriage. It was thus almost impossible to sleep other than in brief snatches and the end of the journey could not come fast enough. Luckily we arrived in Jaipur at 1.40am and thus were able to spend much of the night in warm, comfortable beds.

Our fellow passengers were no more (nor less) sociable than those we had met in 1A, 2A and 3A elsewhere on our travels, and I certainly don't think that the experience was any more "real" than those in the other classes.

In brief, I'd say that Sleeper is a useful option for those on an extremely tight budget but for the majority of normal Western tourists, who require a certain level of cleanliness and comfort, it cannot be recommended.
#11 Jan 6th, 2008, 16:37
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  • steven_ber is offline
Thanks for the post Mickey, as I said earlier, everyone has a different opinion about Sleeper Class.

Originally Posted by Mickey S View Post I've often seen it said on this forum that Sleeper Class is the "Real" India, and the best way of meeting people.
I think the main reasons people refer to Sleeper Class as 'real India' is because of the cross section of people who travel in this class (could air con be called middle class India?), and because you get to see and feel India through the window instead of the slightly isolated air con classes.

I've travelled unreserved from Jaisalmer to Jodhpur a few years ago and I seem to remember having padded seats (not normal in unreserved class), the train also wasn't crowded, so I can understand how you wouldn't notice a lot of difference between Sleeper Class and unreserved, things change a lot when you get onto the busy sections of the railway.

The Bikaner-Jaipur journey sounded awful, and for the most part, isn't typical of Sleeper Class, daytime overcrowding is normally the biggest problem.

I travelled a different route (metre gauge) from Jaipur to Bikaner last November and had the bumpiest ride I've ever had, it seemed at times that we were just jumping and dropping about 12 inces at a time, it was funny at first, but as it kept happening it became a bit scary.
#12 Jan 6th, 2008, 20:24
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Mar 2007
  • Aishah is offline
I think you are pretty much right with 'air con' being middle class India, Steven. I think Sleeper class is for the younger, tougher traveller than I am. I now stick to 1A or 2A because I'm at the time in life when comfort, cleanliness is more important to me. But if I were in my younger adventurous times I would have travelled Sleeper class - also price is a huge factor for the budget traveller.
As for the 'real India' there have been debates on this elsewhere - but for me India -modern, rural, traditional, village-style,whatever- is all 'real'. And a journey in a comfortable 1A compartment can be just as pleasant with chatter as in more rough and tough carriages.
#13 Jan 6th, 2008, 20:39
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Sep 2005
  • capt_mahajan is online now
(could air con be called middle class India?)

A straw poll of indiamike members may throw up an interesting statistic.. a higher percentage of foreigners travelling sleeper class compared to Indians.
This is computer generated drivel. No signature is required.
#14 Jan 6th, 2008, 20:55
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  • vonkla is offline
Originally Posted by Aishah View Post I think Sleeper class is for the younger, tougher traveller than I am. I now stick to 1A or 2A because I'm at the time in life when comfort, cleanliness is more important to me.
Last year we travelled quit a lot by train. The first journeys where in the daytime and we took the Sleeper Class.
For the first overnight journey we decidid to take 2A, mainly because we liked to have more space between the berths.
For the rest of the journey we sticked to this and it was fine, and Aishah we are 60+.

As for the conversation part in the Sleeper Class, on one occasion we traveled with a school class and that was great fun. During most of the other journeys our fellow travellers thought that Sleeper Class ment that you have to sleep most of the time.
#15 Jan 6th, 2008, 23:11
Join Date:
Jan 2008
  • parimal_vijay is offline
[Diagram from a post by steven_ber, link, a definitive guide to the Indian Railways-A must read]

Difference between RAC, reserved ticket and waiting list

Every compartment has 72 seats. It is divided into 9 coupes. For example seats no 1-2-3-4-5-6 form one coupe, the next coupe consists of seats 9-10-11-12-13-14 and so on. All in all you have (9 coupes)*(6 seats per coupe) = (54 seats in coupes) in every compartment. These form the reserved seats.
Once these are filled then the seats beside the aisle are filled. So you have (9 aisle sectors opposite every coupes)*(2 seats per sector) = (18 side seats). These seats are called RAC seats - Reservation against Cancellation. The railways considers these as only seats and not as a berth (a bed) and hence says you will get a reserved berth in the coupe provide someone there cancels.
Beyond this comes the waiting list which is little less straightforward. An arbitrary limit on the maximum number of people allowable on the waiting list is set by the railway authorities for individual trains. Waiting list gets converted into an RAC which the gets converted into a reserved seat if there are sufficient cancellations.
If they are no cancellations and when you board the train you posses a ticket which is in waiting list, it is equivalent to an unreserved ticket and the rule is you have to travel in the general compartment. But you can usually get away with sitting in a reserved compartment provide you co-passengers don’t object (rare if not unheard of). The ticket collector (TC) might ask you to leave every time he passes by you (it’s his job), saunter off and return once he is gone. But it’s a fine line and if a ticket checking squad comes you will end up paying a fine which is a multiple of your current fare. The chances of this happening are remote.
Of course if you manage to grease the palm of the TC he will preferentially allot a seat/berth to you ahead of the people in RAC and waiting list. A ball park figure would be between 50-200 Rupees per seat depending on the whether its sleeper class or third ac and the distance involved.
The same etiquette applies to the third ac as well with a minor difference if you are in possession of a third ac waiting list unreserved ticket the rule puts you in the general compartment but since you have forked out a hefty sum the TC is neutral to you lounging about in the sleeper class compartments.
There is one TC for every three sleeper class compartments and a single TC for the AC compartments. On long journeys the TC will change for every 12 hours or if the train is passing from one railways to another (konkan to south western railways etc). So if you do manage to strike a deal make sure he makes the necessary changes on the ticket as well as on the list that is attached to his clipboard else the new TC might allot your seat/berth to another tired soul.

Brown Perspective.

Another useful post:
Last edited by parimal_vijay; Jan 8th, 2008 at 21:39..

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