Different Coaches Or Classes in IRCTC

Finding Your Coach Among The Plethora In The Indian Railway System

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Traveling for us has always been about the journey more than the destination. Transportation is a big part of the journey. A train might be a mechanical object that transports you from one place to another, but it is also a peephole to a surreal trip. If you’re on a train, you sit in your train coach, relax, and soak in the sights, and the best part? Connecting with the locals! If you haven’t gathered already, we are huge stans of Trains.

Indian Railways is the largest rail system in Asia and the fourth-largest where size is the concern. It has improved over time, considering the country’s enormous population coupled with the fact that it’s the most reliable and affordable transport/link from rural areas to urban regions.

One of the most significant parts of the train is the coaches it carries. This statement is gospel when it comes to the mindset of the traveler. So being ardent travelers ourselves, we have decided to take you into a deep dive into the features, seat/berth types, arrangements, and comfort level of all the coaches. They are listed comprehensively in the order of prices from high to low.

Different Coaches In Indian Trains

Rake Composition And Coaches In IRCTC

Coaches are which passengers can opt for based on budget, availability, and comfort. The composition and rules of coaches also vary. For example, A/C coaches need mandatory reservations, and the windows of these coaches are thick tint shielded glass. All the air-conditioned compartments have bedding provided except for the Chair Car (CC) seats.

Keep in mind that the coaches also vary depending on the train, and not all of the below-mentioned coaches are available on all of the trains.

Some coaches come with berths. Berths refer to beds. Side berths refer to the ones along the aisle or the length of the train. Generally, two toilets or two restrooms are attached at the end of every coach, facing each other, one with the Indian or squat type and the other with the Western type. A washing sink and a mirror are also placed outside the toilets in every coach.

1A – Air-Conditioned First Class

The most luxurious and expensive class of Indian Railways. This coach has a dedicated attendant who arrives at any time with a simple press of a button. Each closed compartment in this coach has either two berths, called ‘Coupe’, or four berths, called ‘Cabin.’ These berths are extremely spacious and comfortable.

Each Coupe or Cabin has a mirror, a trashcan, reading lights, charging ports, and small tables to have meals. 1A coaches even have a bathing area for the passengers to freshen up.

Note: Tatkal/last-minute reservation is not allowed for this class.

EA – Executive Anubhuti 

Air-conditioned top-end class of Shatabdi Express, exclusively operated on popular routes. These coaches are furnished with air-craft amenities. With push-back seating arrangements in 2*2 models, fashioned with LCD screens, and leg rests, all ideal for comfortable travel. The attendant (s) call button is available above each seat.

Separate food tables and charging sockets are also available for each passenger. Journey information like the speed of the train, next stop, etc. is displayed on the screens in the middle of the coach. Anubhuti coaches have modular bio-toilets equipped with touch-free taps.


Indian Railways (IR) operates the Vistadome glass roof air-conditioned coaches on some tourist routes and toy trains. Vistadome has large glass windows and roofs, observation lounges, and 180-degree rotatable seats. The coaches are equipped with a wifi-based information system and CCTV cameras.

Digital display screens and charging sockets are available for all seats, and individual passengers. The coaches have Fiber Reinforced Plastic (FRP) modular toilets with pressurized flushing systems, bio tanks, and automatic fire detection with an alarm system.

These coaches are included in the journey route that encompasses the Araku Valley, Konkan Railway, Kalka-Shimla Railway, Kashmir Valley, Kangra Valley, Nilgiri Mountain Railway, and Neral-Matheran Route. These coaches’ fares are equivalent to AC Executive Chair Car.

2A – Air Conditioned Two Tier 

Each compartment has four beds, two beds on each side across the coach, and two lengthwise, equipped with curtains along the corridor. Reading lamps are provided for each berth. Sheets, pillows, and blankets are provided in the evenings. The carriage is more spacious and quiet as the passengers traveling in this coach expect privacy and are devoid of any conversations.

3A – Air Conditioned Three Tier 

Unlike the 1A or 2A coaches, 3A has eight berths in each compartment with no reading lights or curtains. During the day, the middle berth is folded down against the compartment wall to allow travelers to sit on the lower berth. Unlike sleeper class (SL), this carriage is not crowded as only reserved passengers are strictly allowed inside the AC compartments. Perfect for passengers expecting a comfortable journey at a moderate fare.

Some trains like Duronto Express and Garib Rath Express have 3E – AC Three Tier Economy coaches. The only difference is that these carriages have an extra side middle berth making it a total of 9 berths per compartment.

Key Takeaway: 2A coaches have 2 berths – upper and lower on each side while 3A coaches have 3 beds – upper, middle, and lower.

CC – Air Conditioned Chair Car 

An air-conditioned coach with five seats (3*2) in a row, typically used for intercity day travel. This coach is most available for short journey premium and double-decker trains. It is always well maintained. It is IR’s version of a ‘Business Class.’ A small table is attached to the back of every seat which passengers use to keep their belongings or have meals. 

Some premium trains like Shatabdi Express and Tejas Express have Executive Chair Car (EC) coaches which have 2*2 spacious seating arrangements with provisions for more legroom.

FC – First Class  

First-class is equipped with non-air-conditioned berths. The set-up is such that it has two berths across each side and two along the length/aisle. Bedding is not included in the fare but can be opted for if the booking is done in advance. Showers and toilets are available at the end of the carriage.

Note: Tatkal/last-minute reservation is not allowed for this class.

SL – Sleeper Class 

The sleeper class is the most economical sleeper coach on IR. They contain three berths (top, middle, and lower berths) across the width and two (upper, lower) lengthwise. This class comes with no air conditioning. The carriages are too hot during the day and too cold during the night. The windows are usually open (can be operated manually) and fans in the ceiling provide sufficient ventilation. Travelers make themselves comfortable by bringing blankets for overnight journeys.

The lower berth that’s to the side, along the length, is sometimes shared by two passengers who have RAC tickets. Similar to 3A – AC, the middle berth is folded down against the compartment wall during the day to allow travelers to sit on the lower berth. During festival season/weekends, unreserved passengers sit or sleep along the walkway making it difficult for the reserved passengers.

2S – Second Seater  

This is the non-reserved class and, more importantly, the class that is comparatively wallet-friendly. This super-economical coach can be found commonly on intercity day trains. The carriages are cooled with fans. These have two rows of three seats on either side of the aisle (3*3 fashion) facing each other. Some trains have push-back seats with charging ports but some don’t. If your reserved seat is occupied by other persons, you are in your right to claim your seat.

UR/ GEN – Unreserved/ General  

The reservations aren’t required and are usually used for last-minute/emergency travel. This coach is perhaps the most budget-conscious. As a consequence, the accommodation reflects that. This compartment is usually utilized by passengers who are in a hurry to travel and for people who are tolerant of uncomfortable travel.

One of the biggest disadvantages is that a seat is not always guaranteed. These coaches have three seats on either side that are occupied on a first come first serve basis. Least comfortable as people stand when seats are fully filled until there isn’t any spare space left. The tickets for this coach are valid on any train on the route if used within 24 hours of purchase.


Which Class To Book?

Each class has its pros and cons. The higher the budget for travel, the more convenient the journey would be. The luxury class has prominent features and as a consequence, they are priced high. Now if you have the money to spring then one would say your obvious choice is to go for the high-end coaches. But isn’t it also prudent to be economical regardless of the amount you are willing to spend? 

Choosing your ideal coach smartly can be a difficult one. So, considering the extensive amount of traveling we do, we have come up with the ideal choices that are smart, comfortable, and most importantly, allow you to enjoy your travel to the fullest. We would recommend that the SL would be enough for an overnight journey and the 2S or CC is comfortable for a short day trip.

Traveling in an unreserved compartment is not advisable as they are crowded at all times. If the journey is more than 10 hours, then you should upgrade to the 3A. But if you need some privacy, you can choose 2A and if you are on a higher budget, opt for the 1A.

On a personal note, the side berth’s length is a little shorter when compared to other berths. It is always recommended to choose an upper berth in any sleeper-berth compartment as your luggage is safe and moreover, you are free from any hassles as the middle will be folded during the day and other passengers tend to occupy the lower berths, regardless of your choices as that’s the only place allowed to sit and prattle.

A train is a fun place, a transportive journey that is being entrained by a very mechanical engine. So choose the best coach suited to you, and comment on your stories and experiences below. Also, do tell us about your most interesting train journeys. As always, stick with us to find out about all things travel, and all things fun!

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