Ever Wondered What These Different Numbers On Indian Train Coaches Mean?

India is blessed with the world’s fourth-largest railway network. Almost every part of the country has been impeccably connected via the rails and the system carries around  23 million people every day from one place to another. While you too must have traveled by trains, did you ever notice the numbers painted on different bogeys?

According to the Indian railways, there is a numbering system that gives a 4-5 digit number to each train. The first two digits denote the year of production. So if a number on the coach says, 98337, the train has been manufactured in 1998. However, certain trains like the Rajdhani do not follow this nomenclature.


The rest of the numbers specify whether the train is AC/Sleeper class/Two Tier/Three Tier and so on.

001-025: AC First Class

025-050: Composite 1st AC +AC-2T

050-100: AC 2T

101-150: AC 3T

151-200: AC Chair Car

201-400: Sleeper 2nd Class

401-600: General Second Class

601-700: 2L Sitting Jan Shatabdi Chair Car

701-800: Sitting Cum Luggage Rake

Certain letters (if printed) specify the type of railways the train belongs to. The WCR, EF, and NF mean that the train is manufactured by Central Railway, East Railways, and North Railways respectively.


Here’s the nomenclature that further defines the type of coach.

CN: 3-tier sleeper coach
CW: 2-tier sleeper coach
CB: Pantry/kitchen car/buffet car
CL: Kitchen car
CR: State saloon
CT: Tourist car (first class) (includes bathrooms, kitchen, and sitting and sleeping compartments)
CTS: Tourist car (second class) (includes bathrooms, kitchen, and sitting and sleeping compartments)
C: (except as above) With Coupe
D: Double-decker
Y: (not as prefix) With Ladies’ compartment (usually 6-berth compartment with locking door)
AC: Air-conditioned

You can also find the 5-digit train number printed on your tickets. Very few know how to decode them. Here’s an example.


The first digit specifies the type of train you are traveling by.

0- is for special trains (e.g., summer specials, holiday specials, etc.)
1- is for all long-distance trains
2- is also for long-distance trains; it is to be used when train numbers starting with 1 are exhausted in any series.
3- is for Kolkata suburban trains.
4- is for suburban trains in Chennai, New Delhi, Secunderabad, and other metropolitan areas.
5- is for passenger trains with conventional coaches
6- is for MEMU trains
7- is for DMU (DEMU) and railcar services.
8- is currently reserved
9- is for Mumbai area suburban trains

The second and other digits depend on what the first digit is. As per the first digit, they will denote the zone and region the train is traveling in. So, next time you travel by train, do try to decode the digits and be the star of your group!

Also read: Here’s Why Crushed Stones Are Used On Railway Tracks.

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