What’s the one thing you remember about your childhood? Vacations! But what followed was this dreaded essay we all wrote year after year about how we spent our vacations. Most of mine started at the railway station and were about how my Dad used to remember the names of all the stations we ever crossed. 

These mammoth wagons that carry millions of passengers, are a true delight to look at, especially as a child. But have you ever wondered how each coach of these marvellous machines are numbered? No, I'm not talking about the train number, but the 5 digit number on each coach.  

Here’s how it's actually done.

Source: www.amarujala.com

The first two numbers signify the year in which the coach was manufactured. Looking at the above picture, we know that this one was manufactured in 2004. 

The other three digits signify the type of coach.

Source: www.soultravelblog.com

But mind you, there are over ten types! Here’s a list that might help: 

001-025: AC First Class


026-050: Composite 1st AC +AC-2T 

051-100: 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 

801+ : Pantry car, VPU, RMS mail coach, generator car, etc. 

Aren’t you the new train expert? Actually, not quite! Sometimes there is an alphabet used as a suffix to this 5 digit code.  

Source: www.quora.com

Here’s what they signify. 'A' or 'AB' suffix indicates air-braked stock (frame-mounted or bogie-mounted, respectively), especially for coaches upgraded from vacuum brakes. 'C' suffix indicates CBC couplers (as with the new LHB coaches). And, 'X' suffix indicates 110V DC electrical systems (upgraded from the older 24V systems). 

Phew! But wait! There are some six digit train numbers too? Like this one.

Source: www.indiarailinfo.com

Here, the 1st number is a prefix which signifies the zonal code. In the above picture, the number 1 signifies that this coach belongs to the Central Railway zone. Likewise, each zone has its uniques code, such as 8 for South Eastern Railway, 5 for Eastern Railway, 3 for Northeast Frontier Railway, etc.

And that’s your lesson on how we number trains. So next time you are stuck at a station waiting for your train, you know exactly what to talk about!