You can catch either
- a Karjat bound local train
- the 07.10 Deccan Express (arrives at 08.38 in time for the 08.50)
from CST (a.k.a. VT Mumbai, India) on the Central Railway to Neral Station.
If coming from Pune, catch any Mumbai bound train and get off at Karjat (Around 95 kms from Pune).Then catch a CST bound local train from Karjat and get down at Neral (21 kms, would take around 15 min).
From Neral Station , there is a toy train which runs to Matheran about 4 times in a day. This toy train is not operational when railway route is under maintenance or when there is a perceived hazard e.g. the monsoons. Unfortunately, the only way to find this out is at the Neral Station.
Neral to Matheran tickets as of February 2015 costs are Full deluxe salon (6 people) 1500 Rs., 1st Class 300Rs p.p., 2nd Class Reserved 75Rs p.p., Ordinary 60Rs p.p. Tickets can be booked at Neral station from 3 to 1 day in advance, and then on the day of travel from 45 minutes before the train. You cannot reserve the tickets online through IRCTC.
The train is often full, so turn up in good time to ensure you get a ticket - tickets usually sell out 1 hour in advance of the journey time and waiting time in queue can be as long as 30 - 60 minutes. If there's a queue of unmoving people at the ticket window with a salesman who's reading the paper, then all the 2nd class tickets are sold out. Jump the queue to the window and ask for 1st class as the're usually available.
Cars are not allowed within Matheran. However you can drive up and park your car at Dasturi car point, or take the newly introduced mini bus shuttle from Karjat or Neral railway stations upto Dasturi. From Dasturi you must take a 40 minute horseback or man-pulled rickshaw ride to Matheran along a mud track.
Alternately you can walk from Dasturi along the rail line & make your way up to Matheran - 20minutes to half an hour. The rail track route is slightly shorter, more scenic and very much more comfortable than than the rubbly, dusty main road route. Coolies or porters are available at Dasturi to carry your luggage. Remember to negotiate rates in advance. You can also go with group booking or alone.