Yes, I have once again achieved it! I have traveled from New Delhi to Varanasi, towards Kolkata and then to Dimapur in Nagaland. Close to 3000 km of pure action. If you are planning to travel by Indian railways here are a few points to consider.
Plan should be well before
It is difficult, but it helps you for sure. Consider there are close to 1 billion travels and most of the trains are packed to capacity. If you have a class of your choice, then you need to plan well in advance. You can start off by paying a visit to the official page of Indian railways. On the left-hand side of the page, there is an option of availability of trains and you can locate trains between two major stations. The seat availability will portray the status of the next 7 days and there are websites where you can check out on the different types of classes available. Once you have booked the tickets you can again go to the left-hand side of the bar and find out the arrival and departure timings of the train. If this schedule is printed you can be aware of whether the train is late.
Once you reach the station there are sign boards in place on which platform the train will arrive. Most of the time announcements are made through speakers as well. But if there is a change in the platform before the train arrives, there is complete chaos, and it is suggested that you go with the flow. Most of the trains normally follow a system. If your journey is long, IRCTC food would be a nice option as you can avail the meals of your choice.
There are different classes of travel according to your budgetary considerations and level of comfort. 1st class is easy going with electricity, the berths are clean, privacy is assured, but the only drawback is that you do not feel the real train experience associated with Indian trains. The vendors are not allowed to enter this class.
Second class is the most preferred option for travel of many people and here is where you come in contact with the local crowd. Personally, I was offered all sorts of tasty items that were served by various families. Sleeping is not all that comfortable when you travel by this class.
Third class as nothing else cannot be said about this class! If you have not booked your tickets in advance and need to travel at any cost, then this class is the viable option. It is packed to capacity and I got the impression that stealing is a piece of cake. In this class, the best bet of yours is the upper bunk.
To conclude, apart from all these, you need to be safe and secured with your luggage. Always carry a lock and key with you and do not hand over your personal belonging like cash or wallet to anyone as you might not know when it will vanish.