How train numbers are decided?

Train Numbering System

Indian Railways is one of the largest railways networks in the world. Thousands of trains cover lakhs of kilometers with crores of passengers traveling every day.

For such a huge network, the booking system has to be efficient. Management of the trains is also very crucial. Therefore, every train is given an identity i.e a specific number.

Earlier there was a four-digit system that is now replaced with the five-digit system in December 2010.

Each train number has some important information and each digit of the number has a different meaning.

First Digit of a Train Number

The first digit ranges between 0 to 9 and each one of them has a different meaning. The first digit indicates the type of train.
First Digit
Associated Meaning
0
Holiday Special Trains
1, 2
Long-Distance Trains
3
Kolkata Suburban Trains
4
Other Suburban Trains
(Chennai, New Delhi, Secundrabad)
5
Passenger Trains with
Conventional Coaches
6
Mainline Electric Multiple Units (MEMU)
7
Railway services
Diesel Multiple Units (DMU)
8
Premium/Reserved Trains
9
Mumbai Suburban/Local Trains

Second Digit of a Train Number

The second digit indicates the zone from where trains are operated. Refer to the list of zones in Indian Railways below.

First Digit

Second Digit

0/1/2

0 – Konkan Railways

1 – CR, WCR, NCR

2 – Superfast, Shatabdi, Jan Shatabdi etc

3 – ER, ECR

4 – NR, NWR

5 – NER, NFR

6 – SR, SWR

7 – SCR, SWR

8 – SER, ECoR

9 – WR, NWR, WCR

3

0 to 7 – ER

8, 9 – SER

4

0 to 4 – Chennai Suburban trains

5, 6 – Delhi Suburban trains

7 – Secundrabad suburban trains

8, 9 – Reserved trains

`5/6/7

0 – Konkan Railways

1 – CR, WCR, NCR

2 – Superfast, Shatabdi, Jan Shatabdi etc

3 – ER, ECR

4 – NR, NWR

5 – NER, NFR

6 – SR, SWR

7 – SCR, SWR

8 – SER, ECoR

9 – WR, NWR, WCR

8

Reserved now

9

0 to 9 – All Local Trains in Mumbai
Have a look at the map, showing the areas covered in various zones.
Indian Railway Zone Map.
By Nichalp – Made by Nichalp, CC BY-SA 3.0, wikimedia

There are 19 zones in the Indian Railways.

1

Northern Railway – NR

2

North Eastern Railway – NER

3

Northeast Frontier Railway – NFR, or NEFR

4

Eastern Railway – ER

5

South Eastern Railway – SER

6

South Central Railway – SCR

7

Southern Railway – SR

8

Central Railway – CR

9

Western Railway – WR

10

South Western Railway – SWR

11

North Western Railway – NWR

12

West Central Railway – WCR

13

North Central Railway – NCR

14

South East Central Railway – SECR

15

East Coast Railway – ECoR

16

East Central Railway – EC

17

Konkan Railways (Under CR)

18

Metro Railway – Kolkata

19

South Coast Railway – SCoR (Newest zone)

Third Digits of a Train Number

The third digit indicates several things depending upon the first 2 digits. It may indicate a zone, a division, direction of travel, service between specific places, etc.

Last 2 Digits of a Train Number

The last 2 digits are generally the random numbers given to maintain the uniqueness of the train numbers. There are some exceptions where 4th digit also has some significance.
Note: We have covered the generalized patterns in the numbering system. There are several exceptions specific to certain cases.

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