Should You Choose the Upper or Lower Berth on a Sleeper Train?

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Each berth has its own sets of advantages and disadvantages and a number of countries have different prices for the use of either. Furthermore, the way these berths are set up in the sleeping car might be another set of considerations to make in the selection.

Should you choose the upper or lower berth on a sleeper train? If you are able to choose between the upper and lower berth, it should depend on whether the beds have ladders to reach the upper berth. For the elderly, the lower berth is ideal because they are easier to reach.

This guide will walk you through the way berths work in sleeping cars and how to choose the best one to use when going to bed.

Sleeper Train

What are Berths?

A berth is a double-bunk arrangement that has two beds, one on the ground level and the other above. They are usually designed in conjunction with the seats. When they are not in use, the berths are replaced by the seats. Each berth is designed to fit only one person under most circumstances. Some berth types appear in different sleeping cars, and there is a different sort of protocol for each sleeping car worldwide. Let us look at how they work.

Upper Berth

Upper Berth on a Sleeper Train
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The upper berth is measured to be around 2 meters long and 55 centimeters wide. This is the largest of the berths on a train, and it can be quite advantageous for this reason alone.


The upper berth is considered a comfortable area. In many trains, this is the best place to sleep in because the comfort is much assured here. A lot can be done in the upper berth. It has the advantage of optimal privacy.

One can watch videos or read novels as well as do online work with minimal disturbances. In the middle of the room, there is an air-conditioning unit. This is another advantage for passengers using the upper berth, as they can get most of the cool air around. Ventilation access is something that would appeal to most passengers.


Upper berths are usually cheaper to buy when boarding the train. A tall person would make the most of the upper berth not only because they can reach it easier than most but also because it is the most optimal choice for them. Here in the upper berth, you will have as much room to lie on as you can. There is plenty of space for movement as well.

Girls can also make the most of the space in the upper berth. You will also not suffer much impact from the speed of the train. The upper berth is also recommended if you are traveling by yourself during the day as you can rest easy during that time. This makes it easier for you to guard your luggage as you travel.

Generally, the upper berth is great for privacy and isolating yourself from passengers. If you want to keep to yourself, this spot is for you.


However, while it provides the best comfort for you on the train, it does pose some disadvantages. First, it is quite high up, and it can only be reached by climbing either a ladder, if one is available, or some built-in steps. In one train in Vietnam, it was even said that there was no ladder or steps. Just a tiny peg that can help one reach the top.

Getting to the berth is not easy, and as such, the upper berth is not for pregnant women, persons with disabilities, and senior citizens. If you are wearing a long dress, it may not be easy to reach the top as well. If you are somewhat heavy and cannot climb up faster, the upper berth is also not ideal.

The upper berth can make for a good private space for someone traveling alone and with limited baggage. But in some cases, you will have to put your bags next to you on the berth. This may not be a disadvantage if you are not traveling overnight. This way, you can keep your luggage safe from thieves. The upper berth, therefore, is better when you prefer a cheaper, shorter trip during the daytime.

Lower Berth

Lower Berth on a Sleeper Train
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The lower berth is reserved for important guests, making it rather pricy. A recent pricing model in New Delhi has made it so that lower berths are not always picked first. Regardless of the price, the lower berth is widely considered by travelers to be the most comfortable because of how easy it is to reach.


In some trains, you can actually get a table for yourself, which you can use to do your office work on your laptop or put your food on. There is enough space for you to walk in and out of the train, especially if you want to go to the restroom. While not as long as the upper berth, it is quite comfortable to use, considering that it is easy to get to. The lower berth is ideal for night travel, and if you want to charge your laptop and mobile phones for the trip. There is also a clear view of the window of the countryside and better access to fresh air if you want.

Lower berths are normally reserved for the elderly and pregnant women. This is deal for them since they could not easily climb to the upper berth by themselves. When you are in a sleeping car with elder passengers, it would be a good idea to give your place to them.


One disadvantage the lower berth is that you will face a lot of movement from the passengers of the train. If you are seated near the door, you might be vulnerable to losing your luggage because some of the unreserved passengers can come through. In some Indian railways, the lower berth is reserved for women around the age of 45 and older, senior citizens, and pregnant women. The lower berths are marked specifically for these groups so that other passengers do not claim them first. Booking would be done under general quota if this happens.

Other Types of Berths

Middle Berth

As the name suggests, the middle berth is located between the upper and lower berths in some trains. This is often a second choice for those who prefer the lower berth. The advantage this area has is that it’s close to charging outlets for those who want to charge their laptops and mobile phones.

This convenience also makes it ideal for doing computer work, but it can get cramped as you will be in between the upper and lower berth. If you are not keen on using the upper berth but cannot use the lower berth because someone else has claimed it first or you are with a senior citizen, the middle berth is perfect for you. The middle berth is also good for night travel due to the convenience offered in phone charging.

Side Upper

Much like the upper berth, the side upper is best used for daytime travel and offers a lot of headroom. In fact, some side upper berths have more space for the head than the upper berth, though it is still slightly shorter than the upper berth. This is favored by many passengers because of its closeness to the window. Couples also choose the side berths for resting.

Side Lower

Some consider this area to be the most diplomatic due to the many advantages it has. It is on the ground level. Depending on how you prefer it, the side lower berth is good for socializing. You can talk to other lower berth passengers. If you have a family with you, you can try bringing them to the lower berths so that you can all sleep together in the same level. Couples can also take advantage of this.

Conclusion – Should You Choose the Upper or Lower Berth on a Sleeper Train?

Choosing between the upper and lower berth is not as difficult as it may seem to be. For one, it depends on your own circumstances and how you can manage them. If you are traveling alone, the best choice would be the upper berth because of how you can keep your things away from other passengers while taking the biggest amount of resting space.

If you are tired and want a good night’s rest, the lower berth is preferred. This is especially true with regards to accessibility to restrooms. However, you might need to give way to senior citizens and pregnant women.

Ultimately, it depends on whether you can actually choose between the two. Other types of sleeping trains might have the middle and side berths to choose from, and they share some of the advantages of both lower and upper berths. It really depends on your convenience whether or not you will take one or the other. From many perspectives taken, the lower berth has the most accessibility to the amenities on the ground level but the least amount of space to rest on or walk around in. The upper berth is the best area for private sleeping and work but the hardest to reach. Each has its own pros and cons that you will have to navigate through, so just pick what resonates with you.

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