Have you ever thought about How train numbers are decided? Indian Railways has a well-defined system for numbering the trains belonging to different areas.

How train numbers are decided?

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.

The First Digit of the 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 DigitMeaning
0Holiday Special Trains
1, 2Long-Distance Trains
3Kolkata Suburban Trains
4Other Suburban Trains
(Chennai, New Delhi, Secundrabad)
5Passenger Trains with Conventional Coaches
6Mainline Electric Multiple Units (MEMU)
7Railway services Diesel Multiple Units (DMU)
8Premium/Reserved Trains
9Mumbai Suburban/Local Trains
How train numbers are decided?
The Second Digit of the Train Number

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

How train numbers are decided?
How train numbers are decided?
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.    

There are 19 zones in the Indian Railways.

1Northern Railway – NR
2North Eastern Railway – NER
3Northeast Frontier Railway – NFR, or NEFR
4Eastern Railway – ER
5South Eastern Railway – SER
6South Central Railway – SCR
7Southern Railway – SR
8Central Railway – CR
9Western Railway – WR
10South Western Railway – SWR
11North Western Railway – NWR
12West Central Railway – WCR
13North Central Railway – NCR
14South East Central Railway – SECR
15East Coast Railway – ECoR
16East Central Railway – EC
17Konkan Railways (Under CR)
18Metro Railway – Kolkata
19South Coast Railway – SCoR (Newest zone)
How train numbers are decided?
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 the 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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