1.Always book your ticket early.
There are many ways book your ticket, you can go to http://www.indianrail.gov.in if you want to pre book from your country, if you have arrived in India without a ticket to your next destination, you can either find a travel agent to make a reservation for you (with service charges of course! Noth10ing is free in India!) or you can discover your way to the train station one or two days before your departure and book the tickets yourself at the counter. What is good about it, they actually have a special counter only for tourists. Once you reach there you only need to fill up a destination form and decide which type of train class you would like to sit on. We tried the sleeper class, we suggest you to try it too-Indian style!
2. Download an App called IXIGO (Indian Rail Train PNR Status) on your smartphone or tab.
Link for Android is as stated below, it is also available in iOS. By using this app, you get to see the schedule for all trains at all times. I would consider this a very helpful app. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ixigo.train.ixitrain&hl=en
3. Be friendly.
Indians are really friendly, if you are talkative you might not have shortage of people to chat to. Some of them can speak a little English, be sure to ask them about the destination you are heading to. Even if you are not much of a chatter, it is important to collect information as much as you can when you are on the rail. If they offer you some food from them, politely accept it, and make sure to return the favour.
4. If you cannot eat Indian food, pack your own.
Food is easy to get, there will be many food sellers that sells chicken or vegetable Biryani and many other Indian meals such as Thali or snacks and all you need to do is to call them once they walk towards your seat. If you can’t digest Indian food, you need to pack your own food. Please note that Sleeper Class trains does not have a restaurant on board. When the train stops, there will be sellers that sells fruits and drinks by the train window just be sure to carry small change.
5. Enjoy the beautiful scenery
Always pick a seat right is next to the window during day time. The changing landscapes provides a hassle free view of the everyday life in India as you will pass through many small towns, villages and farms.
6. Most passengers sleep early.
They will open their berth and sleep as early as 9.30pm. However, they are sitting with foreigners they will usually negotiate on what time everyone in that compartment shall retire. If you are a light sleeper, be sure to put on your head phones or ear plugs, chances are at least 2 person will snore in your compartment.
7. Toilet peak hours are at 8am – 9am.
If you really need to use it, get up early. Note that, the squat style toilet is much cleaner than the western style toilet.
8. Never leave you luggage unattended or display your valuables.
There are many cases of pick pockets and valuable loss among passengers. Many passengers chain their luggage, if you don’t have a chain, make your backpack your pillow or head rest. Be sure to secure your money and passport inside a money belt and wear it underneath your clothes at all times. Prepare small change in a different bag, so you don’t have to expose your cash all the time.
9. Be aware of information update on changing of train platform.
Most stations have boards that gives out information on train schedule. Always be alert on the information updates. Always ask other local travellers if it is the right platform to wait for your destination. If you see a rail officer (You can spot them by their uniform) kindly ask them.
10. During arrival, be prepared of crowded people.
There will be many taxi driver or Rickshaw driver calling you out to use their service. Some might even go up to you and pull you. Be firm and just confidently head outside the train station entrance or anywhere to avoid them. Why not grab a food first? You deserve a good meal after that multiple hours train ride! Make your decision on where you want to go. My suggestion, it is better to find a taxi or Rickshaw a little bit further from the station. Please, pack along your bargains skills with you!