How clean are Indian trains/ railways?
Like anything in India the cleanliness and safety of your train depends on where you are and how much you are prepared to pay.
Generally speaking, we’ve found trains and sleeper trains to be a cost effective and a fun way to travel. Over 10 million locals use them every day, almost 4 billion journeys a year and it’s a great way to experience authentic India.
What should you take on your Indian railway journey? It depends on the time of year and where you’re travelling but we’ve found the carriages on sleeper trains to be very clean, with fresh bedding linen provided. We’ve been travelling in late January so whilst day time temperatures are warm and did 20s, at night the temperature dropped so those who like sleeping with eunaturale may be advised to have some ‘layers’ at hand as by 3am the carriages can be very cold.
1st class passengers share their own two or four bed cabin, while 2nd and 3rd class share and open space which consisted of facing triple bunks and a double bunk at your feet, on an open corridor with up to 60 people…so privacy isn’t an option.
Most carriages have a shared long drop and European style toilets but shoes are essential as due to the rocking, everyone ‘misses’!
Some trains apparently don’t have food compartments, our train between Kolkata and Jailigupur was the opposite, vendors selling everything from peanuts, curries, toys, saris and religious ornaments walked the ailses and provided an endless source of amusement and fascination.
7 hygiene tips for travelling on an Indian railway
1. Always carry hand sanitiser/ alcohol gel with you and clean your hands regularly.
2. Scented rubbish bags are great for your food waste or even your dirty washing and masks the smell in close quarters.
3. Chewing gum and specialist dental gums are a good substitute for when you can’t brush your teeth – nobody likes bed breathe but you won’t always have time or the opportunity to brush your teeth.
4. The train linen we had was impeccably clean but if your reluctant to use laundry which has had a thousand previous users – bring a single duvet sheet, which you can crawl in and use as a light weight sleeping bag with the provided blankets over.
5. Packing and repacking your bag everyday is one of the major frustrations of travelling – so when you do pack, leave two days of clean socks and underwear at the top of your bag, in easy reach for days you haven’t got the time or space to make a full wardrobe change.
6. Come to terms with the fact that trains toilets, even the European ones, will be pretty disgusting – so bring your own toilet roll or remember to take the one from your last hotel stay. Note also most toilets don’t take toilet roll – which is where the scented bin bags come in handy, wrap up your waste and drop it in a bin!
7. Only eat boiled food/ bottled drinks – like anywhere in India avoid uncooked foods.
Come prepared with the right kit, attitude and a smile and you’ll have an amazing adventure.