There are many pictures online of train surfing - where you ride on top of the train, and it hasn't always been illegal in some countries (you'd certainly get arrested here in Sydney).

I've found at least one article claiming that it'll likely get outlawed in India after health and safety has stepped in, but a colleague from India claims it still happens on the older trains in smaller towns - but wouldn't happen in say, Mumbai.

Is there somewhere in India where it's still commonplace (ideally between Goa and Mumbai as I'm headed there, but would accept anywhere as an answer, if evidence is shown)?

  • 1
    You can always see how long you would survive on The Beast.
    – gerrit
    Mar 2, 2016 at 10:09
  • @gerrit that looks amazing, will add to folder for Mexico :)
    – Mark Mayo
    Mar 2, 2016 at 10:18
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    Interestingly, I watched episode 1 of "Bombay Railway" (bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007xb0j) last week with the same question in mind. The narrator explained how it was totally illegal on the Bombay system, which confirms what you read. Plus in the area surrounding "Bombay", there were no shots containing surfers. Highly recommended documentary by the way. I have episode 2 scheduled to watch.
    – Gayot Fow
    Mar 2, 2016 at 11:06
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    What I'm pretty certain of is that your travel insurance won't cover you if you are injured doing it. Mar 2, 2016 at 17:20
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    More then a dozen people died in Uttar Pradesh 3-4 years ago and a law was put in place to stop people from traveling on rooftops so it is illegal now but I am not putting this as an answer because I am sure there must be some routes where this law is not enforced strictly. I saw people sitting on the roof of an electric train near "Palwal" near Delhi but it is a long way from Goa.
    – PSC775
    Mar 3, 2016 at 17:10

1 Answer 1


I have now traveled over 20,000km on Indian railways, and I wanted to do the same too! Never had the chance though.

As of today, there are only Diesel and electronic locomotives are in run today. Riding on top of an electric obviously means you are risking your life a lot.

Mumbai is probably where it is most impossible to do so, unfortunately. Mumbai local is entirely electronic, and the power supply runs just a few feet above the train. The long distance trains that depart from Chithrapathi Shivaji terminus or Mumbai Central stations have tight security (due to 2008 bombings and the nature of Indian railway systems in general).

There is only one incident that I could get a glimpse of such experience. This is in Varanasi to Gaya railway. It is still an electronic loco, so you cannot ride on top. It was almost the mid night, and I believe it was the last train. I had no luggage to carry, and was trying to get to the train somehow just as the locals. A few people climbed to the engine, and there was a bar that you could hold on to. Also, a few people tied their foot cycles to the windows and somehow managed to stay by holding to the windows.

Not even the above wouldn't be possible in Mumbai local because the narrow railway gates and tunnels.

I'm not sure if you will be able to do so, but from what I have experienced, your best odds would be at Bihar and West Bengal (The Darjeeling train is not good either; I'm in Darjeeling right now and pretty disappointed really).

Riding on top of buses is a different story though. It is equally dangerous, but buses travel slow, and the roads are rather majestic (I have done this several times in Abhaneri, Rajastan (where the deepest Indian stepwell is located), Gaya, and Shimla)

Also, keep in mind that there are about 30,000 deaths per year from railway systems in India, so please be careful.

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    After watching videos like this (I know, one intersection should not condemn a country, but...) I wouldn't care to ride in a bus, let alone on top of one.
    – CGCampbell
    Mar 3, 2016 at 18:42
  • Yeah that's true most of the roads are simply scary and drivers dare physics. The buses you can ride on top usually move quite slowly and the hardly meets another vehicle.
    – AKS
    Mar 3, 2016 at 19:06

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