Indian railways – types of coaches explained

Indian railways has following type of coaches from starting from low cost to higher cost upper ones.
List of type of coaches available
Starting in order from cheapest to most expensive>

  1. Unreserved coach (also called General Coach) UR
  2. 2nd sitting (or Non AC Chair car) 2S
  3. Sleeper (SL)
  4. 3E (3rd AC economy class)
  5. 3rd AC ( 3AC Standard)
  6. 2nd AC
  7. 1AC
  8. First Class ……FC

All trains in India has a combination of different types of these coaches. The train types is explained in Trains page.

  1. Unreserved Coach (UR)
    No space to stand, let alone walk. People sitting and sleeping on the floor and even the topmost luggage racks.  Unreserved coach is the horrific truth of population explosion in India.This is the most crowded coach in the train because there is no reservation required to enter in this coach. It is the cheapest one too.

    But traveling in this coach can be a nightmare. In most of the trains it is so crowded that once you are inside. Coming out is almost impossible to come out after the station.

    Here are two videos showing the crowd in general coach to give you an idea.

    Video showing the long Que:

    Try not to use this coach until you have other options. We have explained in one of our posts how can you can travel in reserved sleeper coaches. Use this coach only for short-distance routes. Better still don’t use it at all if possible.

    Cost of traveling: the cost depends upon the train and route. Explained in detail on fare calculation page. But to give you a quick idea:

    Distance     Price
    100 kms    30  – 50 rs ($1)
    400 kms    60 –  80 rs  ($1.5)
    1000 “”     160-180 rs ($2.5)

    Yes, its very cheap. But in most cases. The money you save will come at a cost of uncomfortable experience. This coach is available in most passenger, express and super-fast trains.More than half of the times it is over crowded.


  2. 2nd Sitting Coach (2s)
    Imagine the cheap cost of unreserved coach. And comfort of a reserved seat and lesser crowd! That’s 2nd sitting coach for you.

    flickr- acameronhuff

    2nd sitting is the lesser known gem of Indian railways. Not only does it is the cheapest reserved seat in Indian railway system but also has more number of seats and hence easier chances of reservation.

    Is it possible to travel between Mumbai to Goa in a reserved seat? Covering a distance of more than 700 kms. Costing only 200 rupees ($4). In a super fast train? Sounds too good to be true? But it certainly is true! And very much possible with 2nd class category! of a Jan-Shatabdi express train.

    Cost of traveling: Is the same as unreserved seats. But also depends upon the train and route. Explained in detail on fare calculation page. But to give you a quick idea:

    Distance     Price
    100 kms    30  – 50 rs ($1)  + Rs 15 reservation charges
    400 kms    60 –  80 rs  ($1.5)           “”
    1000 “”     160-180 rs ($2.5)            “”

    2nd sitting is the best travel coach if you don’t want AC and doing day travel. Its not only the cheapest but you can get tickets in this coach fairly easy. In my experience the seats on this coach is always available.


  3. Sleeper (SL)
    As the name suggests. Sleeper coach are designed in such a way that you can sleep in the night.
    Each compartment is comprised of 3 births on each side. and 2 births on passageway side .

    The windows are open. Fresh air and light is plenty!  You can however close the window by both glass and metal shutter.
    The emergency window is completely open. So it is not much safe to children to sit next to it. You can however close this railing too. But some irresponsible passengers keep it open not using it as emergency but a leisure window to get more fresh air and open view.

    This is the most common train coach in India. Out of 15 coaches  in a express or mail train  8 coaches are comprised of sleeper seats.

    • Sleeper coach is more special and Indian as compared to any other class of travel. In this class of travel you’ll find friendly middle class people of India, students and even people from smalltowns and villages. They are never hesitant to start a conversation and are also very friendly.
    • It is visited by more hawkers and sellers because the windows are open. And view from the window is better than any of the AC classes.This is probably the only class of travel where you can buy  samosas on the platform right from your seat. Without having to move anywhere.


    • However, if you don’t like disturbances and cannot handle the heat during summers then you MUST indeed NOT take the sleeper but the AC coach.

    How much is the cost (rough idea)
    Sleeper coach is a tad bit expensive as compared to 2nd sitting. But traveling in this is even more comfortable because you can sleep.  It is perfect for long distance journeys.
    Distance     Price
    100 kms    150 rs ($3)
    400 kms    200 rs  ($4)
    1000 “”      350 rs ($6)          


  4. 3E (3rd AC economy class)
    3E is a comparatively newly introduced coach mostly found in Garib Rath Trains. These are AC ccompartments with three births on side seats too.

    Open sleeping berths
    Left side berth closed


    outside view of Garib Rath train


    Passage view of the train


    3 slabs of berth on side seats


    Side seats without the middle berth opened


    • These trains are fast and run at avg speed of 60 kph.
    • Its cheapest in AC category of coaches.
    • Getting a ticket is easier because the whole train has only one class of travel.
    • The fare does not include the bedding charges. You have to pay extra 25 rs to get bedsheets and pillow.

    Distance     Price

    100 kms    150 rs ($3)
    400 kms    200 rs  ($1.5)
    1000 “”      350 rs ($2.5)          

  5. 3rd AC ( 3AC Standard)
    The big brother of 3E is found on almost all express/mail trains. In this coach you also get free bedding.

    Outside view of a 3AC coach.


    s of 3AC
    •  3AC is found on express/mail and even premium trains like Rajdhani and Duranto . On this class of travel you get free bedding (which you don’t get it 3E class). There are curtains on the windows.
    • In the night the middle berth is opened and the person with middle seat has to sleep on it.
    • On these trains side berths do not have a third birth like 3E . That’s one of the major difference between 3E and these trains.

    Distance     Price
    100 kms    300 rs ($6)
    400 kms    640 rs  ($11)
    1000 “”      967 rs ($20)          


  6. 2nd AC


    2nd AC has less crowd as compared  to  other classes.

    The main difference in 2AC and 3AC is that in 2AC the middle birth is not there. So there are only 6 people in one compartment as compared to 8 in 3AC and 10 in 3E.

    This class also has curtains to cover the side which kind of provides more privacy. The bedding is provided without any extra charges.

    Distance     Price
    100 kms    640 rs ($12)
    400 kms    815 rs  ($18)
    1000 “”    1470 rs ($30)          


  7. 1AC
    1AC is the most expensive travel class in mail/express and Rajdhani trains. Almost twice as expensive then 2AC. The main benefit of traveling in this class is more personal space and luxury.Features:

    • No side berths
      In 1 AC there are no side berths and each compartment has a door that you can close from inside.
    • Better seats size
      Each coupe has four seats. Every berth is more wide and has better cushioning as compared to any other class travel.
    • Attendant
      There is an attendant who will assist you with basic things like calling pantry car boy for food etc. And to provide with blanket and other bedding.

    Distance     Price
    100 kms    1080 rs ($20)
    400 kms    1440 rs  ($30)
    1000 “”      3015 rs ($60)          


  8. 1A First Class ……FC
    This class is older class now almost extinct. It ssimilar to 1AC but does not have air conditioning!Watch this video to get an idea of how it looked. there are only a few trains that still have this class now.
  9. AC Executive class

    Executive class is located on Shatabdi trains. This is the most expensive class in Shatabdi trains. The seats in this class are very comfortable almost like the seats in flights.  Also has carpet!

    You get free meals and snacks, in this class of travel.

    Distance     Price
    100 kms    1080 rs ($20)
    400 kms    1440 rs  ($30)
    1000 “”      3015 rs ($60)

  10. AC Chair carAC chair car is located in Shatabdi and other intercity trains. These are less expensive as compared to executive class.Distance     Price
    100 kms    230 rs ($5)
    400 kms    384 rs  ($8)

Now different trains have different combinations of coaches. Some trains only have one type of coach and some can have upto 5 types of coaches.

The fare of individual coach also depends upon the speed of the train. For example a sleeper coach ticket of a passenger train would always be lesser as compared to an express train.

For details about different types of trains click here.


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