Difference between 1AC, 2AC and 3AC in Indian Railway

Key Difference: A train in the Indian Railway system is made up of different coaches, which are roughly divided as air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned. The air-conditioned classes are First Class AC (1AC), AC Two Tier or Second Class AC (2AC), AC Three Tier or Third Class AC (3AC), and AC Chair Class. The 1AC is the most expensive and the one with the most amenities, the 2AC has less amenities, and is cheaper, while the 3AC has the least amenities, and is the cheapest.  

1 AC in Indian railwayThe Indian Railway system is a complicated network of stations and tracks. In fact, it is one of the world's largest railway networks. It is owned and operated by the Government of India through the Ministry of Railways. However, the system, especially because it is that big, can be really complicated to maneuver. In fact, even native Indians have trouble getting the information they need from the system. So, what chance do tourists have? Also see: The difference between e-ticket and i-ticket

Traveling in the Indian Railway is never as simple as just buying the ticket and boarding the train. Not only are there options like different trains, different routes, different times, as well as reservation, non-reservation, Tatkal, Premium Tatkal, but also options for the types of tickets that one wants.

A train is made up of different coaches, which are roughly divided as air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned. However the non-air-conditioned are further categorized into First class, Chair Class, Sleeper Class, Second Sitting, and Unreserved. The air-conditioned classes are First Class AC (1AC), AC Two Tier or Second Class AC (2AC), AC Three Tier or Third Class AC (3AC), and AC Chair Class.

The AC Chair Class and Chair Class are only available on trains that travel short distances, i.e. day trips. For trains that contain overnight trips, there are two ways to travel, the cheaper non-air conditioned classes, and the more expensive and luxurious air-conditioned classes. Let’s look at the three main types of air-conditioned coaches. 

Also see: Train Vs. Metro

2 AC in Indian railwayAs the name suggests, First Class AC (1AC), is the most expensive and luxurious accommodation that the Indian Railway offers. There are many amenities, such as but not limited to each compartment having only 2 or 4 berths. The compartments are often spacious and carpeted with a sink and individual reading lights. They are also lockable for privacy and are fairly non-crowded. Depending on the train in question, the compartments will also have charging points for mobiles and other electronics. The toilets are clean and showers are available. Food, pillows, sheets, and blankets are complimentary. However, these services don’t come cheap. Not only is the 1AC the most expensive berth on the train, but its prices can be comparative to a plane ticket at times.

See: Train Vs Tram

The Second Class AC (2AC) is usually a good compromise between amenities and cost. The 2AC compartments are still not crowded, as there usually only 4 berths in the compartment. There are only 2 berths in the aisle bay. However, the compartments do not have lockable doors, or doors at all, instead they have curtains for privacy. They do not have sinks either or the charging points but still have the individual reading lights. Pillows, sheets, blankets, and food are still complimentary. The toilets may not be as clean and with as many amenities, i.e. no shower, but they are still fairly decent. However, the prices of 2AC are quite affordable, especially when compared to 1AC, but they might still be out of budget for some.

3 AC in Indian RailwayThis is where the AC Three Tier or Third Class AC (3AC) comes into play. It provides the basic amenities, still more than the non AC, but at a more affordable rate. There are no curtains or doors for privacy. It does not have sinks, charging points or individual reading lights. Food is not complimentary. However, it does provide clean areas, and pillows, sheets, and blankets are provided. The toilets are fairly clean, especially at the beginning of the journey, but may get dirty depending on the number of people. The compartments may seem crowded to some as there are 6 berths in the compartment, and 2 in the aisle bay. However, this crowd is still nothing when compared to the crowd in the non-air conditioned coaches, especially the unreserved class.

See: Difference between Metro and Local train

Comparison between 1AC, 2AC, and 3AC in Indian Railway:





Also known as

First class Air-Conditioned

AC 2-tier sleeper

AC 3 Tier

Air conditioned




Number of berths

2 or 4 in the compartment.

2 in the aisle, 4 in the compartment.

2 in the aisle, 6 in the compartment.


Spacious, carpeted and lockable compartments with a washbasin.

Sleeping berths, curtains for privacy and individual reading lamps.

More crowded, and lacks other benefits.


Provided complimentary

Tea and snacks maybe provided complimentary

Not Provided


Pillows, sheets and blankets are provided complimentary.

Pillows, sheets and blankets are provided complimentary.

Pillows, sheets and blankets are provided complimentary.


Mostly Clean, with a shower, and even toilet paper roll.

Fairly clean. Lacks shower.

May or may not be as clean, depending on how many people use it.


Most expensive, fare on par with airlines at times.

Less expensive than 1AC but more than 3AC.

Cheapest in the ACs, but still more than non-AC.

Image Courtesy: indiamike.com, paulbigland.zenfolio.com, isubhash.blogspot.com

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thanks. its clear my fundamental

Depends on which zonal train you go, my experience was with northern and western 1AC is . No free food or tea at all , whatsoever. (Chandigarh to luncknow, and return) . Also next birth was general compartment , they were using toilets so it was worst , even on complaint they didn't closed the door permanent, cuz IRCTC sellers move inbetween through it. Also in 3A , bedroll ( bedsheet and pillow) is provided at additional cost of Rs 25 . I came to know as they asking while booking.

Good clear explanation. You could have also advised whether meals are included in 1AC

Yes its already covered in comparison table

its depends on the trains also ,it will change train to train like express is one style and super fast is one style and we cannot decide sometimes so better go 2ac for the sake .

In 1ac the food will provide or not

Thanks for ur advice But I have already taken 3ac ticket

Feelings good in 2nd ac. It is cheaper than sleeper buses.

this post makes great sense ..thank u

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