Trains in India are one of the essential experiences that thrill, intimidate and fascinate visitors around the world. The vast distances, crowded cars and seemingly time worn trains have a mystique all their own.
The truth is that while the train riding experience in India has its own flair and uniqueness we found it to be accessible with some good directions, patience and openness to learn. Ticket vendors, security and information officers and fellow passengers helped us figure out the system in a matter of a few train rides.
For us the public transit experience began with using Mumbai’s newest transportation network: the Metro. This is currently a one line system that runs across the Northern sector of the city from East to West starting on the Eastern End by the Airport and terminating in the Western Suburbs.
For those looking to transit in and out of Mumbai downtown the most important metro station to know is Andheri. It connects directly with the Western Railways line which serves Downtown Mumbai to far outside the city in a North South Direction. The Railways station goes by the same name as the Metro stop Andheri and it has pedestrian footbridges going to the Eastern and Western Railways.
Getting Metro Tickets:
To buy a metro ticket simply approach the staffed counter and buy a one way or return journey token. There are also machines. Tickets can only be paid for in cash. There is a secure checkpoint and stops are new and clearly marked.
Mumbai Railways (East and West)
The trains called Eastern and Western Railways are the only rapid transit options to going into Central Mumbai (South) and all points North. The city sits on a peninsula running North-South so the majority of public traffic flows in this direction and all points in between.
The railways stations are crowded, and quite hectic, however ticket operators, police and other official staff speak English for the most part. So if you have a good idea of the stations you need to get to, cash to pay for tickets and the ability to navigate your way to the proper platforms you will do fine.
Getting Railway tickets
Approach the railway ticket office and be prepared to name your destination stop as well as what class of ticket (1st or 2nd) you would like. You have the option to buy a one way or return journey. After your ticket is printed you may need to find the appropriate platform. Times are not given for specific tickets as trains come every five minutes or so. Just pay attention if it is a fast or slow train. Slow trains stop more frequently and are only really useful if you are getting off at one of the smaller stops. Tickets do not need to be validated.