Random mixed feelings about Indian Railways

This past weekend, my wife, my kid, duly accompanied by yours truly, went to Chennai by train. This was the kid’s first train journey after he has turned two (ie, after he has started really assimilating the world!). We took the Shatabdi for the onward journey. We were blown away by the new coaches. My opinion/observations below:

  • Superior quality coaches – almost felt like European style train compartments – never been on one, but drooled over plenty on Travel and Living.
  • Good leg space. Ergonomic seats.
  • Long span windows. My kid loved these. He could look out the window and take in the scenery (wherever applicable :))
  • Very less rattling. Unfortunately I wanted my kid to experience the ta-tak-ta-tak. (He got plenty of this in the return journey, but I digress here.)
  • Translucent plastic/glass overhead luggage trays – so you could keep an ‘eye’ on your luggage literally🙂
  • The restrooms were actually clean. And wow, Jaguar fittings. And no one had flicked them (yet!). Bidet style ‘bum wash’. No mug chained to the pipe🙂
  • Three pin plug in every seating bay. One of our co-passengers was working on an excel sheet the entire way to Chennai.

So we thought, all was fine and dandy. Landed in Chennai without a tired muscle. We could not get tickets for the Shatabdi for the return journey. In fact we could not get an AC ticket at all. So we had settled for the Non-AC 2S seating in Lal Bagh. We had chosen the Lal Bagh for its convenient time – it reaches Bangalore at a comfortable 9PM. Observations (and mostly dissatistified comments below):

  • Ultra crowded compartment.
  • Old rickety coach.
  • The seating itself is not planned well. It is very cramped, but then on hindsight, it is probably the same as an economy ticket on a budget airline. Except, the seats are much harder in the railway compartment. I wanted to say the timings are longer, but then some of the legs in the long-haul flights I have made to the US have been longer.
  • Now comes the worst part. Along with the 104 passengers who had been issued reserved seats, there are about 50 other people standing and sitting in the aisle through-out the journey. These are folks who have just taken the ‘General ticket’ and are ‘supposed’ to be in the Unreserved compartment. Wow. The Ticket-Inspector tried his best for an hour or so (until Ambur to be precise), and then gave-up. Shame on you Indian Railways – for letting this lawless-ness go by. Cant you attach another Unreserved coach !! Or do something ?? You spend Lakhs every year on a Railway Budget and the state from which the Railway Minister hails from, gets a few additional trains, but cant you help the common man get a decent seat ?

The only good thing common about both  the journeys was the dashing Lallaguda WAP7 locomotive – which did more than justice to the journey. Pure power. The locomotives just gobbled up the distance like noboby’s business. My thanks to the loco-pilots. An aside point is that – it was the last day for the locopilot on the return journey,  Mr. S.C.Dass, before he retired. There was a banner on the WAP7 announcing this. Mr. Dass, you did your bit, and made yours, and ours journey memorable. We screamed through the Whitefield station so fast that I could barely read the black-on-yellow lettering. Probably was making the top speed of 110 kmph at that time. Kudos.

Update: Some pictures of the Shatabdi. Did not take pictures on the Lalbagh. Was too busy to retain my calm🙂

View of the coach. Note the wide aisle. You can also see the much needed legroom.

The area between two coaches. What used to be the rickety vestibule is now this.

Transparent over-head luggage space. (Also note the reading lights)

Nice long windows so you can take panaromic Indian Country side shots like these.

This entry was posted in Opinion and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s