There are various different factors to be aware of before booking a ticket with the Indian railways. Apart from the date of travel, departure station and arrival station, one of the most important details to know is which class you want to travel in. The Indian Railways have eight different classes of compartments across different trains although all trains may not have the same classes. The fares and comfort in each of these classes differ greatly. Therefore, it is required to be informed of the different classes in order to choose according to your preferences. Based on the indian railway inquiry, these are the classes.
Air-conditioned first class (1A/AC1)
This particular class is generally only found on the most important long-distance trains. The fare costs around twice the price of AC2 tickets. The AC1 compartments consist of spacious, carpeted and lockable sleeper compartments with their own wash basin. Although both 2-berth and 4-berth sleeper compartments are available, you cannot specify which one you want. The berth numbers are only allocated by the Indian Railways close to the departure date. The required bedding is provided for.
Air-conditioned 2-tier (2A/AC2)
This class is found on all long distance trains. Being comfortable, less crowded and clean, this is the compartment most preferred by middle-class families in India. The padded seats can be converted to bunks at night. Although the coaches are not divided into compartments, the separate bays are curtained off to ensure privacy. In the evening, an attendant provides any bedding and pillows required for the night.
Air-conditioned 3-tier (3A/AC3)
AC3 compartments are different from AC2 compartments in that they have three tiers of bunks instead of two. This is generally more crowded than the Ac 2-tier compartments. In some trains, curtains and individual berth lights may not be present either. The berths convert to seats in the daytime. The bedding required is distributed by an attendant in the evening.
First class (FC)
Although the first class compartments are disappearing now in favour of AC 2-tier coaches, they used to be non-air-conditioned sleeper coaches that had 4-berth and 2-berth sleeper compartments. The bedding is provided at an additional cost if booked in advance.
AC Executive Chair Class (EC)
This is found only in Shatabdi Express trains. In this coach, the seats are arranged across car width in 2+2 fashion. The fare is inclusive of food and drink which is served at the seat.
AC Chair Class (CC)
The AC chair class is the best choice for daytime journeys. They are completely air-conditioned with comfortable seating. The seats are arranged across the width in a 2+3 arrangement.
Sleeper Class (SL)
The sleeper class consists of upper, middle and lower berths arranged 6 on one side of the aisle and as two on the other side. There is no bedding available to travellers in this class. The sleeper classes generally get very overcrowded.
2nd Class seats (2S/II)
These coaches have unreserved seating as well. While they are okay for daytime journeys, it is generally a good idea to get a reserved seat for overnight journeys.