The train (especially steam engine) and ride is fantastic, I felt really lucky to get a seat after hearing that it needed to be booked way in advance (not true).
Unfortunately, the government tourism department and railway office is managing the ticket sales and information terribly!
We were told one day in advance that we could ONLY book the day of, and needed to reach at 8 am to book for a 2:30 train. We reached at 7:58 am the next day and waited 20 minutes at a closed ticket window before learning that the train was actually at 2 pm and ticket counter would open only at 1. Entire day's plans had to be changed around to accommodate this, but we were willing as we really wanted to ride the train. At 12:57 we stood in line again at a closed ticket window and were told tickets would be sold only at 1:15 - finally at 1:20, the window opened and we got first class tickets (for just the ooty-coonoor section - the full ride was sold out) for 5 rupees each. (can't beat the price!) We were then told that it was going to be standing room only. Then we were told we MIGHT get a seat, but we had to be in the front of the "Q". We stood in the Q and when the train came each compartment has it's own door (for two facing bench seats for up to 5 people in each). So the arriving passengers came out, and our "Q" quickly dissolved into the usual mad rush of unreserved class, as people rushed the compartments and we had no choice but to join in or miss the train. An older woman in our group was pushed to the ground and nearly fell under the train while being trampled by the "animals" who were riding in first class!! We barely managed to snag a seat - only one of our group got a window, and that on the "bad" side, where you mostly see stone, dirt and grass the whole way.
Every wonderful review on here is true, but I really hope they fix these issues of misinformation, disorganization etc, which left me almost too hassled and frustrated to enjoy the ride!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.