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Kerala Express Review — Agra to Delhi in AC 2-Tier Sleeper Class

Our two-week trip to India culminated with an incredible visit to the Taj Mahal in Agra. It was time to head back to Delhi for our flight out of the country. We rode the Kerala Express superfast train from Agra to Delhi, which was the easiest and cheapest way for us to cover the distance. In this post, we’ll take you along on our train journey.

In this Post

Kerala Express Train & Classes

The Kerala Express is a superfast train that runs daily between Delhi and the Indian state of Kerala. The superfast train can reach a maximum speed of 81 mph, but averages only 38 mph. In total, the route covers over 1800 miles of track from Delhi to the southern tip of India. Riding the train from start to finish would take just over two days.

Throughout this post, we focus on the small portion between Agra and Delhi. This leg of the route actually involves very little superfast speeds. In fact, it’s not even always the fastest train option between Agra and Delhi.

The experience onboard the Kerala Express varies greatly by class. Like all Indian Railways trains, the Kerala Express offers a variety of ticket classes at different price points. Each classes is aligned to a specific car which vary in terms of seat type, air conditioning and capacity, among other things.

Ticket Classes on the Kerala Express Train

Here is a look at some of the ticket classes that are available on the Kerala Express. Not all of these classes are available on all trains, and some ticket classes can sell out.

  • 2A – AC 2-Tier Sleeper: Each passenger is assigned a bed, which are stacked 2-high in an air conditioned car. There are 4-bed compartments and 2-bed bunks along the aisle. This cabin is most popular with tourists and wealthier domestic travelers. This is the class we cover in this post.
  • 3A – AC 3-Tier Sleeper: Each passenger is assigned a bed, which are stacked 3-high in an air conditioned car. Some 2-tier bunks are also available along the aisle in this class. This cabin is most popular with backpackers and domestic travelers, often young professionals. We rode this class on a different train from Jaipur to Udaipur.
  • 3E – AC 3-Tier Economy Sleeper: This car is similar to the 3A car, but newer and a bit nicer. Capacity is greater in this car because the aisle bunks are 3-tier instead of 2. There are some other improvements like USB ports, reading lights and increased headroom for upper bunks. I assume this is more popular with locals, as it cannot be booked on third-party ticket sites at the moment.
  • SL – Sleeper Class: This cabin is similar to 3A, but it does not have air conditioning, bedding is not provided, and it can often be overcrowded/oversold. This cabin is mostly middle- to low-income domestic travelers.

Buying Tickets for the Kerala Express Train from Agra to Delhi

We bought our tickets for the Kerala Express train from Agra to Delhi on 12GoAsia. They are a third-party agency that operates as a go-between for foreign tourists and railways throughout Asia. This is particularly useful in India because it’s really difficult to book directly with Indian Railways online. (This isn’t sponsored or an affiliate or anything, we just really love their product and customer service.)

Start your search by entering the location and dates in the search bar. There are a lot of different trains that operate between these two stations, and the Kerala Express is not explicitly mentioned on 12GoAsia. Instead, you will need to look for the Kerala Express train numbers which are #12625 (Agra to Delhi) and #12626 (Delhi to Agra).

Once you find the train and select your class, you can buy your ticket through 12GoAsia. You’ll immediately be charged and receive a receipt. Then, they then work directly with Indian Railways to secure your ticket. This transaction usually takes about 24 hours, and then you’ll get your official eTickets and PNR number (Indian Railways booking reference) sent to your inbox. Your eTicket will also include your specific seat assignment.

In this post, we cover our experience in AC 2-Tier Sleeper class on train #12625, scheduled to depart Agra at 10:15 AM and arrive in New Delhi at 1:15 PM.

Boarding the Kerala Express Train in Agra

The Kerala Express stops in Agra at Agra Cannt Railway Station.

The rail station is located about 4 miles southwest of the Taj Majal. Agra does have a Metro stop near the Taj Mahal, but that particular line does not connect to the rail station. Instead, the best way to get to the rail station is by car or tuk tuk. We took a car and arrived at the station just before 10 AM for a scheduled 10:15 AM departure.

Agra Cantt is a relatively small station (6 platforms) and it’s clearly labeled in both Hindi and English. As soon as we entered, we saw the digital board that listed upcoming trains and their platforms. We had to go up and over the tracks to reach our assigned platform, but fortunately this station had ramps that made that easy (well, easier).

Agra Cantt is a stop on a much longer route, so the train was not at the platform when we arrived. There were several kiosks and booths on the platform selling packaged snacks and drinks, so we grabbed some chips for the ride.

About five minutes before the train arrived, digital signs along the platform updated with our train’s information. These signs displayed the incoming train number and what car class would be in that specific location. We made our way down the platform until we found the sign that aligned with our class (2A).

The train was scheduled for 10:15 AM, but it didn’t actually arrive until about 10:40 AM. That’s honestly not bad considering this train started its journey almost two days ago on the southern tip of India.

Each car was labeled and pulled up exactly where the digital signs suggested. We easily found our car and then our assigned seats on board.

Seat Review: 2A – Second AC Class Car & Bed Details

The Second AC Class Car had one aisle that ran through the middle. One side was lined with 2-tier bunks parallel to the aisle. The other side had larger compartments with bunks on both sides, perpendicular to the aisle, accommodating four passengers per compartment.

There was a curtain that separated the larger compartments from the aisle. Inside were four beds, with the top bunks accessible by a small ladder. There was a table between the lower bunks and rack/shelf between the upper bunks. The bottom bunk could lift up to form a bench seat.

The bunks along the aisle were pretty similar. Each of these beds had their own curtain and the lower bunk folded up to convert to two seats facing each other.

In both configurations, each bed had access to an outlet with a standard Indian plug (Type C) and a reading light. There was room for luggage under the lower bunks, otherwise it needed to go on your bed.

As the name suggests, the Second AC Class car was air conditioned. We were traveling in February so it wasn’t that hot outside, but the AC did seem functional and sufficient.

Trip Recap: Riding the Kerala Express from Agra to Delhi

The stop in Agra was quick, and we were soon on our way. Shortly after our departure, the steward came through the car to check our tickets and offer clean bedding. We declined the bedding, since we planned to be awake for the short journey.

We were traveling as a family of three with two adults and one 2-year old. Children under 5 do not need a ticket on Indian Railways, but we wanted the extra space. We said that our child was 5 and bought them their own ticket.

We were seated in three upper bunks near each other. While we would have preferred to have at least one lower bunk, we made it work. We put most of our luggage on the third bed, and sat together in the upper bunks that shared a compartment.

The journey from Agra to Delhi was mostly uneventful. We didn’t have much of a view from the top bunks, so we did crosswords and listened to podcasts. Our little one watched shows or played games on their tablet, and read books that we brought with us. (There’s no wifi onboard and cell service is spotty, so be sure to download entertainment in advance.)

There was a bathroom on board, but we didn’t use it. I used the bathroom on a different Indian Railways train, and didn’t need to do so again. The bathrooms do not have changing tables (not that we’d use them if they did), so we handled diaper changes with a portable changing mat on our bed.

The Kerala Express has a cafe car, but we didn’t visit it. I’m not sure what the setup is, but I know some hot food is available for purchase. The steward also came through the cars selling light items like pizza, chai and Nescafe.

We arrived in Delhi at 2:20 PM, about an hour later than our scheduled arrival at 1:15. That made for a total travel time of 3 hours and 40 minutes.

Arrival at New Delhi Railway Station

The Kerala Express terminates at New Delhi Railway Station (NDLS). It’s the end of the line, so you can’t miss the stop. Just like the rest of Delhi, the station was alive and buzzing. We really loved our three days in Delhi at the start of our trip, and it felt good to be back!

The New Delhi station is big and crowded. It has 16 platforms that serve over 200 trains a day. Just like all the stations we passed through in India, this station was clearly marked in both English and Hindi. We did have to hike up and down a few sets of stairs to cross over the tracks, but we easily made our way to the main terminal.

Outside the station, there was a slew of tuk tuks standing by to take arriving passengers anywhere in the city. As for us, it was off to the airport so we made our way to the Metro.

New Delhi Railway Station to the Airport Express Metro

Our ride on the Kerala Express ended, but we still had one leg of our journey left. I think there’s plenty of people who go from the train station to the airport, so I wanted to include some direction on that, too.

The Airport Express Metro is accessible from the New Delhi Railway Station, but they do not share a building. It’s a bit of a walk, but for the most part things are clearly marked.

As soon as we got off the train, we saw signs for the Metro. We followed these signs through and out of the terminal, where we exited at street level.

There was an overpass that connected the rail station to the Metro, but we must have missed a sign somewhere. Instead, we crossed the street on surface walkways and found the stairs leading back up to the overpass.

From here, everything was labeled as you would expect at any major metro station. We followed clearly marked signs toward the Airport Express Line. This required some ups and downs, but everything had escalators at this point. We made our final decent down the escalators to the Metro check-in area.

There were ticket vending machines, but those don’t work for one-way tickets. If you don’t have a Metro card, you need to buy a ticket from the agent. There were signs to enter the Airport Metro platform and we scanned our tickets at the automated gates. Each platform was labeled with a direction, and we boarded the train toward the airport.

I know this isn’t a Metro review post, but the Airport Express Line was the nicest train we saw in all of India! It was so new and clean and was a great way to get to the airport. Or in our case, an the JW Marriott at Aerocity. (No photos were allowed on the train.)

Closing Thoughts on Kerala Express Train from Agra to Delhi

Overall, the Kerala Express train from Agra to Delhi was easy and comfortable. It was a little delayed, but considering the route takes two days to complete, I think an hour delay is reasonable. Plus, we knew not to schedule a tight connection around an Indian Railways train, so our flight wasn’t until the next day.

The Second AC Class car is not the nicest train experience we’ve ever had, but it was nicer than the other cars that the locals take, so we won’t complain. We had air conditioning, an assigned seat and a fair amount of space, which resulted in a perfectly fine ride.

As far as the superfast train part goes, that didn’t actually matter. The train doesn’t run at superfast speeds for long (if at all) during this portion of the route. I definitely wouldn’t go out of my way to ride the Kerala Express specifically in the future. There’s tons of other trains to choose from that serve this route, so I’d just pick the one that best fit my schedule.

We took two other trains in India, including a daytime train from Jaipur to Udaipur and an overnight train from Udaipur to Agra. Our overall experience on Indian Railways was as good as we expected, if not better. It’s a convenient, cheap and efficient way to move around a massive country. I’m sure we’ll ride with Indian Railways again next time we’re in India.


Thursday 7th of December 2023

The assigned upper bunks are for nighttime sleeping. You can sit on lower bunks during daytime trains and Indian Railways mentions this on its website. For shorter train rides, the seats are relatively empty, so there is no need to book extra seats in my experience. India has a lot of people that IR has to transport, so functionality and maximizing the number of passengers on each train is prioritized over luxury