Train ride in Mumbai I experienced recently is going to be one of the most memorable experiences in my life in Mumbai. For most locals trains are major means of transportation on a daily basis. Even though I am very familiar with riding a train in Japan, it is still intimidating to ride a train in a foreign country. Especially I hear that trains in India only stop for a short while at each station, I was not sure if I could brave it myself. However, it ended up being one of those things that once you try it, you realize that it is not as hard as you had imagined. At least during the off peak-hours, it is manageable to do with someone who knows how to do it. I was fortunate enough to do it with my two friends who know well about train rides in Mumbai. I felt very grateful for their guidance and company! The ride itself was really pleasant, entertaining and full of photo opportunities!
How To Ride A Train
Since I have done ONCE, I thought I should write a guide.
Just kidding! You thought that I was serious, didn’t you?!
Probably not a guide from me, but I’d like to introduce you to some well written guides that already exist.
This first one is a very well explained comprehensive step by step guide by Reality Tours.
Definite Guide to Riding Mumbai Trains
Other Helpful Guides
You need a map, don’t you?
I know that I am nowhere near being an expert by any means, but I decided to write the general steps that I experienced and provide you with some tips based on my experience. If you are a foreigner living in Mumbai, I recommend riding a train with your friends who have done it before because it is easier and you will be at ease with someone else. Besides it is definitely more fun to have someone else to share the experience with. If you don’t have any friend who has done it… Well, good luck! Just kidding. Just gather a group of friends and do it together. I encourage those foreign tourists and expats who want to experience a local train ride in Mumbai to try during the day and off peak-hours. We rode around 11:00 in the morning and 2:00 in the afternoon.
Train Ride Steps & Tips
1. Buy Tickets
Go to a ticket window. In my case it looked like a counter and a big glass window with a speak hole and a ticketing lady was sitting on the other side. I told the lady my destination. You also have to tell whether you are buying “SINGLE” for one way or “DOUBLE” for round trip. The fare was unbelievably cheap. If you are riding a train for the first time, I recommend taking a train all the way to the last stop. It’s easier to get off.
2. Entering a Station & Finding a Platform
You enter the station and look for an electronic sign board (there might not be one) hanging from the ceiling to find out the platform where the train for your destination will come. It will appear like codes to you if you don’t know how to read. Here’s a wonderful guide by Definite Guide to Riding Mumbai Trains on how to read a sign board. The author explained (or should I say decoded) the information on the board with some photos. Thank goodness for the world of blog. Meanwhile, a lucky person I was just followed my friends like a toddler following her mom. According to my friend, you can ask people around you which platform to go to.
3. Slow Train & Fast Train
If your destination is a final stop, you don’t have to worry about fast or slow train, but if you are getting off on a slow train stop, needless to say, you have to pay attention to makes sure you ride a train with “S” for slow. Now you get on a train!
4. Getting on a Train & Women’s Car
As a train comes into a station, you will see some passengers hanging at the doorway. There was no door. Actually they do have doors. They don’t use them. If I was alone, I might have walked away from the train station. Getting onto a train looked very challenging. However, after passengers got off (if you want the Indian way, you might tell to get on before passengers get off), you make your way into the car.
If you are a woman and getting on a train with girl friends, you might want to look for a women-only car. My friend says usually the very last car of a train is for women only. Women’s car is designed with green stripes and a mark with a woman’s face. Thus, once you get down on a platform, start walking towards the end (this depends on which direction you are going: north or south) where the last car would stop. Women are allowed on a co-ed car, but men are not allowed on a women’s car.
5. Train Ride
On the train, I stood in the center and held onto some handles. The train ride was surprisingly smooth. Train ride in Tokyo could be bumpier depending on the areas the train passes than the train ride I experienced in Mumbai. As a train enters a station platform and slows down much before it stops, you will see some passengers start jumping off before the train comes to a full stop. I was impressed by some ladies in a sari stepping out elegantly. It was quite entertaining to watch. The first time around, we got off our train at the terminus. I waited till the train stopped completely. On the way back, my friend and I had to get off at a busy station and I learned that I had to push my way out to get off the train. Many female passengers were trying to get on the train before any of us on the train could get off.
6. Leaving the Station
There is no ticket gate or collector at a station entry way. I was surprised and thought that it was cool. This part of a train ride is very different from Japan. In Japan you have to pay very expensive fares to ride trains and you go through a ticket barrier that can be quite ruthless with the way it shuts the wings if you did not pay enough fare to ride a train. Then you have to go back in to the machine to pay the difference. In India, you just walk out.
This is the end of the story of my train ride in Mumbai.
Here are a few extra shots after I got out of the train station.
I would love to see dabbawalas in action before they go off to deliver tiffins, Indian lunch boxes. I saw them after they came back from picking up empty tiffins.
I would like to end my post with this beautiful video about Mumbai’s train. My train ride was not as crazy and crowded as it appears in this video. I hope you will feel the excitement of the mega city, Mumbai.