First Class in Indian trains is not exactly what you’ll expect as First Class as someone from Europe or North America. If you need some information about trains in India in general, I’d recommend reading our post about train travel in India first. In this review, I’ll especially focus on the First Class on “normal” trains in India. However, you should note that the experience may differ from train to train.
Getting up extremely early is nothing I really adore. Nevertheless, we arrived at Jaipur Junction at 6 am to board the Udz Kurj Express to Agra.
The train actually started in Udaipur and had a different destination and though the six hours we were to cover were just a short part of the ride. It’s worth noting at this point that all “normal” trains, which are not a Shatabdi Express, are night trains and though run longer distances and sometimes take days.
Also, the speed is below 40 kilometers per hours, making the rides extremely strenuous and long.
Usually, trains like the Udz Kurj Express come with only a half wagon for First Class, while the whole train has more than a dozen wagons.
The First Class seating in the Udz Kurj Express, for example, consisted of three compartments, two with four berths and one with two berths.
We were assigned one of the four berth compartments and met a couple from Britain which took the other two berths. You also get fresh bedding material when boarding in First Class.
However, you have to prepare the bed yourself, which can be done in a few minutes.
While the bedding is not extremely comfortable, it’s actually okay.
What’s special about the First Class in Indian trains is the fact that you can swap the lower berth from a bed into a comfortable couch, which is great for sitting during the day.
However, there’s just a small table, so working is not really easy.
While there is an extensive catering in the First Class of Shatabdi trains, there was not any in our First Class ride in the Udz Kurj Express. At one point, we were able to buy breakfast for 60 INR (~ 0.80 Euro / 0.90 US-Dollar).
The food was actually decent, yet I don’t really know what it was. I actually expected that there would be any free food in the relatively expensive First Class in Indian trains (for Indian standards).
The train First Class experience in India comes with some additional features. First of all, the wagons are air conditioned, which makes the journey way more enjoyable.
Moreover, there are two (very loud) fans, which you may turn on and off upon your discretion. You may also close the door with a curtain for added privacy.
Other than that, there are two toilets for the ten guests in First Class. Which sounds good in theory, is actually a real experience in practice.
One toilet is generally just a whole without any toilet, while the other toilet comes with a real toilet, but the “trash” you produce lands directly on the rails.
The toilet is also no water closet, which means that you have to use the water hose provided to “clean” the toilet. At least there’s soap to wash your hands!
First Class in India is a real experience when it comes to trains. You somewhat feel like taking the Orient Express in your small private suite, where you can sleep, relax or read a book.
The First Class in Indian trains is definitely not dedicated to working. Nevertheless, seating is actually comfortable and when you are fine dealing with the toilet situation, you won’t have a bad time.
Yet, it’s worth noting that the staff is not very fluent in English and there are heavy delays and reroutes from time to time. In conclusion, I’d definitely recommend to give the First Class in Indian trains a try! You’ll definitely have something to tell stories about after your ride!