For most long-distance passenger trains, the following system is now followed. A train number has 4 digits.
[3/00] The first digit indicates the region or zonal railway, as indicated below:
0 is for Konkan Railway 1 is for CR 2 is for superfasts and Shatabdi trains regardless of zones. 3 is for ER 4 is for NR 5 is shared by NER and NFR 6 is for SR 7 is for SCR 8 is for SER 9 is for WRIf the first digit is not '2', then the second digit indicates the division of the home shed or station that "owns" the rakes used for the train (the primary maintenance depot). This is usually in the same division as that of one of the end-points of the train's run, but sometimes it isn't. Usually, '0' for the second digit indicates the headquarters of the zone.
[3/00] A listing of the 2-digit prefixes and the corresponding home stations is given below. The "other" notation indicates the prefix is used for other home sheds in the zone that don't have their own prefixes. Prefixes not listed are not known to be in use.
- Central Railway
10 is for Bombay, also some Pune trains 11 is for Jhansi 12 is for Bhopal 13 : ?? 14 is for Manmad / Nagpur 15 : ?? 16 : ??
- Eastern Railway
30 is for Howrah 31 is for Sealdah 32 is for Danapur 33 is for Dhanbad 34 is for Malda
- Northern Railway
40 is for New Delhi 41 is for Allahabad 42 is for Lucknow 43 is for Moradabad 44 : other 45 is for Ambala 46 is for Firozpur 47 is for Bikaner 48 is for Jodhpur
- North-Eastern and North-east Frontier Railways
50 is for Lucknow (BG, NER) 51 is for Varanasi (BG, NER) 52 is for Sonepur / Samastipur (BG, NER) 53 is for Izzatnagar / Lucknow (MG, NER) 54 is for Varanasi (MG, NER) 55 is for Samastipur (MG, NER) 56 is for Lumding (BG, NFR) 57 is for Katihar (BG/MG) / Alipurduar (BG) (NFR) 58 is for Lumding / Alipurduar (MG, NFR) 59 is for Tinsukia (NFR)
- Southern Railway
60 is for Chennai 61 is for Chennai Egmore 62 is for Mysore 63 is for Thiruvananthapuram 64 is not in use 65 is for Bangalore 66 is for Palghat 67 is for Madurai 68 is for Trichy
- South-Central Railway
70 is for Secunderabad 71 : other 72 is for Vijayawada 73 is for Hubli (BG) 74 is for Guntakal (BG) 75 is for Hyderabad 76 is for Kacheguda 77 is for Guntakal (MG) 78 is for Hubli (MG)
- South-Eastern Railway
80 is for Kharagpur 81 is for Chakradharpur 82 is for Bilaspur 83 is for Sambalpur and others 84 is for Khurda Road 85 is for Waltair 86 is for Adra
- Western Railway
90 is for Mumbai 91 is for Vadodara 92 is for Bhavnagar (BG) 93 is for Ratlam 94 is for Kota 95 : other 96 is for Ajmer 97 is for Jaipur 98 is for Bhavnagar (MG) 99 is for Rajkot
If the first digit is '2', it indicates a train designated "superfast" or a Shatabdi Express; in this case, the second digit indicates the zonal railway, as shown below:
20 is for Shatabdis on all zonal railways 21 is for superfasts on CR 23 is for superfast on ER 24 is for superfast on NR 25 is for superfast on NER and NFR 26 is for superfast on SR 27 is for superfast on SCR 28 is for superfast on SER 29 is for superfast on WR
As mentioned above, the division that owns the rakes may not be one of the end-points of the train. E.g., the Tirupati-Mumbai Exp. has numbers 6353/6354 because the rakes come from Trivandrum, and are shared with the Nagercoil-Tirupati Exp. (6351/6352). The Shaheed Exp. between Delhi and Darbhanga is numberd 4649, but 46 is the Firozpur division and neither terminus for the train is in that division. A train between Jammu Tawi and Amritsar, both in the Ferozpur division of NR (45) has numbers 9113/9114, indicating the Vadodara division of WR! In all these cases the rakes are shared with other trains that do go through the referenced division. There are some other such anomalies. In some rare cases, the division prefixes of the two trains of an up/down pair are differnet. E.g. Tirupati-Trichy Exp. which was 6799/6800 (67 - Madurai, 68 - Trichy). This could indicate the two divisions sharing in rake maintenance, or could just be anomalies in the system. Sometimes two trains with the same name and same endpoints may have different numbers because they take different routes on different days of the week. E.g. 2303 Poorva Exp. : Howrah - Asansol - Patna - Mughal Serai - Allahabad - New Delhi (Mon - Tue - Fri - Sat); and 2381 Poorva Exp. : Howrah - Asansol - Gaya - Mughal Serai - Varanasi - Allahabad - New Delhi (Wed - Thu - Sun). [8/01]. Some non-mail, non-express, non-superfast trains also use this numbering scheme (e.g., some of the trains with the designation "fast passenger"). Commuter locals, some passenger services, etc. do not follow this scheme. These local trains and passenger services tend to use two or three-digit numbers, which may not be unique across zones. Some trains that split or merge at various points, or which have sectional carriages ("slip coaches" as they are sometimes termed) might have additional suffixes ('A', 'B', etc.) in addition to the 4-digit numbers to distinguish among the different portions of the train. E.g., the 6635 down Netravati Exp. bifurcated at Shoranur (earlier at Palghat); 6635A was one half of it that went to Mangalore, while 6635B was the other half that went to Cochin.The 4-digit system with a unique number (the 'universal number') for each train regardless of the zones that it operates in is a new one, adopted around 1989. Earlier, trains were numbered from '1' all the way up to 3-digit numbers within each zone. Numbers were thus not unique across zones, and a given train sometimes changed numbers on the same route as it crossed zonal or other boundaries. In many cases, the final digits of the new number correspond to the old number of the same train service. Often the "down" train of a pair of trains between two destinations has the lower number (the odd number) and the "up" train has the higher number (the even number) but this is far from uniform. (See up/down note below.) Holiday specials Usually, holiday specials have 3-digit numbers, where the first digit indicates the zonal railway that operates the train. (Note: This is true only for holiday specials; normal passenger trains that have 3-digit numbers do not follow this rule.) Fast trains among these, and trains that are given priority for various reasons, have a 3-digit number starting with '2'. Konkan Railway trains often add a "KR" prefix to the long-distance train numbers, which may be shorter than 4 digits, and do not always use the leading "0" digit in the 4-digit versions. For example, KR 3 / KR 4 service is also given the numbers 1113/1114 (no leading 0's). Similarly, KR5 / KR6 is the Diwa-Savantwadi train, and KR7/KR8 is the Savantwadi-Madgaon train. Variations exist: 0111/0112 Konkan Kanya Exp. is also referred to as the KR1/KR2, or sometimes KR0111 / KR0112. So to some extent the KR trains do not follow the numbering system used by IR trains. Local trains and DMU services on KR use a system where the termini of a service are indicated by an alphabetic prefix. E.g., Karwar is "KA", Kudal is "K", Ratnagiri is "RN", and Madgaon is "M"; so the Karwar-Kudal DMU service was numbered KAK1 / KAK2, the Kudal-Ratnagiri DMU service was KRN1 / KRN2, and the Karwar-Madgaon service KAM1 / KAM2. Passenger services within a zone sometimes have just two or three digits, not conforming to the pattern above, and sometimes prefixed with codes indicating the station the serve (e.g. "LK21" passenger service from Lucknow; "DK-1" is the Delhi-Khurja EMU; "AD-3" is one of the Aligarh-Delhi MEMUs; etc. SR runs DMU services between Tambaram and Egmore numbered S-2, S-7, etc.). These one-, two- or three-digit numbers may be repeated in other zones. Trains are often referred to as going "up" or "down" Down refers to a train travelling away from its headquarters (i.e., the homing railway) or from its Divisional headquarters, whichever is closer. Up refers to a train travelling towards its headquarters or divisional HQ, whichever is closer. Eg, 2903 DN Frontier mail is down travelling away from its HQ (Bombay) and from the division that homes it (Bombay division) and similarly 2904 UP refers to it travelling back towards Bombay, its HQ and division. Usually the numbers for the "up" and "down" trains differ by just 1. As for the Shatabdis, the odd number indicates the Down run and the even number for the Up run. E.g. New Delhi - Bhopal Shatabdi (the first Shatabdi) is numbered 2001 DN (away form Delhi) and 2002 UP (towards Delhi). There are numerous exceptions to this scheme! Beware if you are trying to find method in the madness.