Day 3: One in a Billion

India's Trains

If you want to travel across India, the best way is to hop on a train.

There are over 39,000 miles of train tracks in India - that would stretch 1.5 times around the earth (at the equator)!

Trains are one of the most inexpensive ways to travel across India or within a city. Since most families in India don't own a car, trains give them an easy, affordable way to visit family or friends in other cities.

A 1,050 mile (1,700 km) train ride from Mumbai to Madurai would cost anywhere from 250 rupees (about $6) for a seat in the crowded, unconditioned general compartment, to 1,700 rupees (about $42) for a more comfortable seat with air-conditioning.

Only 3 of India's 28 states are not connected by rail (Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, and Meghalaya, mountainous states located in India's remote northeast region).

Click here for a map of India's rail routes

India Railways is the government-owned rail company. It operates about 9,000 passenger trains and has an estimated 20 million train passengers every day. That's over 7 billion riders a year!

The fastest train in India is the Bhopal Shatabdi Express. It has an average speed of 60 mph (93 kph) and can go up to 100 mph (161 kph). This train travels 460 miles (740 km) each way between Bhopal, the capital of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, to India's capital city, New Delhi.

Famous trains & railways in India:

  • Darjeeling Himalayan Railway: Known as the "Toy Train," this railway was built between 1879-1881 and is about 53 miles (86km) long. It runs in the Himalayan mountains between the cities of Siliguri and Darjeeling in West Bengal. It is still powered by steam locomotives.
  • The Fairy Queen Express: This is the world's oldest steam locomotive still in regular operation today. It was built in 1855, and runs between New Delhi and Alwar, to the Sariska Tiger Reserve. The train pulled by this locomotive can have up to 38 passengers.
  • Himsagar Express: This is the longest train run in India. It travels 2,327 miles (3,745 km) from the most southern tip of India to the most northern state of Jammu & Kashmir in about 74 hours and 55 minutes.