Indian Railways runs more than 20,000 passenger trains daily and more than 9,200 freight trains from 7,349 stations across India. As of 2017, IR owns list of locomotive and coach production facilities in India and the rolling stock includes 11,452 locomotives, 70,937 passenger coaches and freight wagons.
Here in this article, we are providing the most basic information of Coaches and Classes of Indian Railways along with different types of Track Gauges used by Railways in India. Click on the links for more information about Coaches and Locomotives.
There are four different types of gauges used by Indian Railways, earlier it was Narrow Gauge (610 mm), Metre Gauge (1,000 mm) and now Broad Gauge (1,676 mm) and Standard Gauge (1,435 mm). By project Unigauge, Indian railways is converting most of the rail gauges in India to broad gauge – 1,676 mm.
There will be two types of gauges used in India for high speed rail standard gauge and broad gauge. Rail transport in India is predominantly follow 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) broad gauge for both passenger railway and freight railway lines, However Rapid transit lines are mostly on standard gauge.
Gauge is the distance between the inner sides of two tracks on railway, standard gauge is 1,435 mm used by sixty percent of the world’s railway.
The distance between the two tracks is 1,676 mm or broader than standard gauge 1,435 mm is known as Broad gauge in India, known as Indian Gauge in rest of the world. Indian Gauge or Broad gauge is the dominant track gauge used by Indian Railways, also converting all metre-gauge and narrow-gauge lines to this gauge under Project Unigauge.
Railway line with distance between the two tracks of 1,000 mm is known as metre gauge, Nilgiri Mountain Railway is the operating meter gauge in India. Nilgiri is also the only rack railway in India with ABT system and the track contains bridges, tunnels and curves.
Narrow gauge railway is defined as a track gauge narrower than standard 1,435 mm, between 600 mm to and 762 mm also called as small line. Mountain railways of India are narrow gauge railways, nickname the Toy Train and one of the major tourist attractions of Indian railways along with Luxury Trains.
Standard gauge railway track is an International gauge used in approximately 55% of the railway lines in the world. The distance between the inside edges of the railway tracks are defined to be 1435 mm and all the high-speed rail lines in India will use standard gauge, Delhi Metro and other rapid transit systems in India used standard gauge.
Initial in 1850, all the freight railway lines in India were built as per standard gauge 1,435 mm but later and today rail transport in India follow broad gauge line 1,676 mm. All the rapid transit lines of India like Delhi Metro phase 2, Namma Metro, Jaipur Metro, Kochi Metro and future rapid transit systems would be in standard gauge in India.
Earlier there was only few like IRS Coach, BEML Coach and ICF Coach were used by Indian Railways, Today all three types of coaches have been replaced by LHB coaches in passengers trains of Indian Railways. Anubhuti LHB Coaches are more luxury, comfort and safe for travellers with list of morden features.
ICF coaches were developed by Integral Coach Factory of Perambur in Chennai and made up of mild steel. Indian Railways will replace all of ICF coaches with the newer LHB coaches to give passengers better comfort and more safety.
Linke Hofmann Busch or LHB coaches are mostly produced at Rail Coach Factory in Kapurthala and designed for an speed up to to 180 km/h. LHB coaches were used to import from Germany and after technology transfer, Indian Rail Coach Factory started manufacturing.
Anubhuti Coaches are luxury LHB coach manufacture at Modern Coach Factory of Raebareli for Shatabdi and Rajdhani Express trains of Indian Railways. All fastest trains like Shatabadi express and later Rajdhani Express, featured with automatic doors,designed cushioned seats, LCD screens and lighting arrangements.
MCF, RCF and ICF are the coach manufacturing unit of Indian Railways, produces railway compartments, Anubhuti coaches and LHB coaches featuring cushioned seats, LCD screens and designed for potential to operate at speed of 250 km/hr.
Modern Coach Factory, Raebareli – Uttar Pradesh
Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala – Punjab
Integral Coach Factory, Chennai – Tamil Nadu
ICF manufactures rolling stock, rail coaches and different range of coaches like LHB, also exports railway coaches to other countries. Integral Coach Factory in Perambur is the largest railway coach manufacturer in the world by record produce 2503 coaches in a year.
Indian Railways offers eight different travel classes on their coaches with features of seating arrangements, capacity and berths availability. Here is the explanation of travel classes in Indian Railways for all types of passengers trains.
Anubhuti luxurious LHB coaches are part of the Shatabdi express with fligt type tv entertainment set and aircraft like luxury car, only available on select routes of the Shatabdi Express like Chennai Central–Mysuru Shatabdi Express (12007).
AC first class is the most expensive and luxurious class of Indian Railways, offering cabins, bedding, compartment and attendant. 1A coaches having 2 berths are called coupe and with 4 berths compartments are called cabin.
Executive chair car with seats and legroom are available on the Tejas, Shatabdi Express and Double Decker Express. This coach is spacious and mostly attached to intercity day travel trains of Indian Railways.
Second AC or AC two tier coaches can carry 48 passengers with six sleeping berths in each compartment with curtains. Two tier AC class offers luxurious travel with list of features like comfort, security, more space, bedding and a peaceful travel.
First Class is no more available in Indian Railways but yes still used in few heritage trains. This class is also similar to 1A but without bedding, air conditioning and no extra amenities.
AC three tier known as 3AC coaches with 64 sleeping berths are another most common class of Indian Railways, offering air-condition with bedding. 3A is very much same as sleeper class with Air Conditioned but the compartments are much cleaner as well as bathrooms.
AC three tier economy class of IR with more number of sleeping berths is only available on Garib Rath Express as well as present in some Duronto Express trains. Bedding is not part of the 3E economy class and an extra berth is added to Air-conditioned coaches across side wise known as Side Middle Berth.
AC chair car class with five seats in a row is also used for day travel and the coaches are used in Double Decker Express. The air conditioned coaches are used by business travelers with three seats on one side and two in other next to window.
Sleeper class is the most common ICF Coach type on IR and carry 72 passengers per coach with ten or more SL coaches attached to every train. The sleeper class of Indian Railways is the most entertaining place with full of people, noise and hawker vendor.
Second seater or 2S class are very much similar to CC but without air-conditioning. Travel in 2S offers value of money against shorter distance trains like Jan Shatabdi Express, similar to Shatabdi Express but low fare and more affordable to common man.
UR/GEN class of Indian Railways are less expensive travel class with a seat not guaranteed. Unreserved/General coaches do not required any reservations and tickets issued are for a train on any route should be used within 24 hours of purchase.
LB = Lower Berth
MB = Middle Berth
UB = Upper Berth
SL = Side Lower Berth
SM = Side Middle Berth
SU = Side Upper Berth
There are different types of symbols and tickets offered by Indian Railways such as RAC, PQWL or WL etc, Here is the Legends, common symbol and description of terms used by Railways.
PNR – Passenger Name Record
PQWL – Pooled Quota Wait List
RAC – Reservation Against Cancellation
Reservation Against Cancellation or RAC is the most common type of ticket issued by IR, RAC does not guarantee a full berth but a ticket holder is given an empty berth if available due to last minute cancellations.
There are two types of locomotives used by Indian Railways for two different purpose, diesel and electric. Both diesel and electric are again classified as Passenger locomotives and Goods locomotives, WAG series of locomotives are used for goods/freight and WAP class are AC electric passenger locomotive
WAG – Wide AC Goods (Electric) – WAG-5,WAG-7,WAG-9, WAG-12
WAP – Wide AC Passenger (Electric) – WAP-5, WAP-6, WAP-7, WAP-7 HS
WDM – Wide diesel mixed
WDP – Wide diesel passenger
WDG – Wide diesel goods
Indian locomotive class WAP-7 and Indian locomotive class WAG-9 are two most powerful locomotive of Indian Railways, WAG-9 for freight and WAP-7 is passenger variant, both developed by the Chittaranjan Locomotive Works.
Indian locomotive class WAG-12 is currently the most powerful electric locomotive for freight, developed by Alstom and Indian Railways at Electric Locomotive Factory in Madhepura and twice as powerful as WAG-9, used to haul freight trains against Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor.
CLW in Asansol of West Bengal is the largest locomotive production unit in the world, Indian Gauge passenger and freight locomotives as well as all electric locomotives (WAP-7, WAG-9H) of Indian Railways are manufactured by Chittaranjan Locomotive Works.