Traveling short distances…try the Shatabdi train
Having to travel short distances in India the best way that I could find was to hop on a train and relax or work on my mails as the train makes its way onto the destination….better than having to get stressed out on the highways in India.
Traveling to Punjab often I now prefer taking the Shatabdi which leaves New Delhi railway station at 1600 hours ……as soon as you are settled the attendants offer a bottle of mineral water…..within some time they start the service with evening tea accompanied with light snacks……it’s nice to have a sip of hot steaming cup of tea watching the country side go by…read a book or just flip through your mails…by about 7 pm they serve soup (best avoided…..though have seen many smack it clean) and then by 8 or so dinner is served…..so quite a bit of the journey is taken up in some activity or the other……doesn’t give you much of a chance to get bored and as soon as you’re dozed off a bit you find that you have reached the destination….all in all it’s a good and comfortable journey.
Shatabdi Express are a series of superfast passenger trains which are being operated by Indian Railways, to serve as connections between Metro towns and important cities and business centers…..they are day trains and they return to the station of origin, the same day.
The train was considered a landmark when it was introduced in India in 1988. In fact, it was criticized heavily by a section of society for its luxury in a poor country. However, with the passage of time, the train has fallen far below global standards of luxury and speed.
Shatabdi trains are also further distinguished from other trains, in terms of convenience in boarding and disembarking. Most stations give them priority berthing at the better platforms, such as ones located close to the station building or waiting halls (generally platform number 1 at most of the stations.
The seats are much better as compared to the earlier ones, better upholstery, well lit carriages….though I wonder why they don’t use powder coating on the interiors of the sheet metal….it gives a fantastic uniform coating all across and the finish is remarkably good…..much better than the sloppy brush finish.
But what has impressed me most is the timing of these trains….I have traveled by them on a number of occasions and not on single time has the departure been delayed…..very impressive indeed…..though the arrival time may vary by about 30 minutes or so due to due to whatever be the reason.
The best way for the reservations is to book your tickets online through IRSTC or www.makemytrip.com the process requires you to register for the first time and it’s a bit irritating as you have to go back and forth to confirm the setup (confirming the security codes via e mail and sms) but then next booking is much more convenient.
But of course when it comes to the wash rooms (if this is on Shatabdi you can guess what will be the state on the other trains) we seem to just go into a time machine and travel back 500 years….it stinks….it is nothing more than a simple hole drilled through the steel plate that forms the floor of the train….so as you pee or poop it simpley drops down on to the tracks below….how innovative!!
So now you would probably understand better why they have instructions written all across the train…”Please do not use the toilets at the stations”.
Jokes apart…. when we are talking about India as a super power, where the IT geeks have taken the world by storm, where we have developed the technology to send our satellites in space we have not been able to design a simple toilet for our trains. Is it that difficult? My wife refuses to travel by train as she cannot bear to enter the toilets of the trains….so even if the air fare is thrice the amount of the railways….air travel it is!!
The attendants are quite presentable and courteous…..for many of the regulars when the bell ‘chimes’ they can be spotted at the attendants pantry station where a tip of Rs 100 ensures better service with a fresh bottle of water and a glass to help make the ‘evening drink’ …..down a couple of whiskey pegs and they are back to their seats ready to enjoy the rest of the journey……which gives me another thought……why don’t we have a bar attached to the trains?