I recently had an opportunity to go to Chennai, using the already famous shatabdi express from Mysore to Chennai. I thought it was worth a blog post considering some nice changes that have taken place. So it finds a mention on the Bengaluru Blog.
Initially the Shatabdi’s looked to be just a variant of normal trains. The insides were plastic cushioned seats of blue colour, which were at best described as being reasonably though not ultimately comfortable for a long journey. For what was served on the train as food, you can see it yourself here.
Since then, this train has now metamorphed into something similar to European train standards in terms of the service, compartments, general cleanliness etc. The entire compartment set looks flashy, and of high grade design, with much larger windows to see nature at your heart’s content. One look at the new compartment and you realize the country has had some major technological and manufacturing advances recently. The seats are now plush green velvet feel, which makes it all the more swanky in terms of design.
The toilets have undergone some major upgradation in terms of look and feel, though I would personally feel that a doormat or two, some tissue paper for hand towel use, and some high grade soap could alter the perception of the loo standards dramatically. For now you have a press button flush, and a decent looking wash basin. One thing I still hate though is the fact that the door would open right on you leaving you with no space to come out properly and this is unacceptable design.
Among some other nifty and usable stuff are A/c charging points above every seat, and bright spot reading lights integrated with the luggage rack. In fact the luggage rack itself seems leagues ahead offering a transparent and/or mirror view which increases the swankiness quotient greatly. Emergency exits are marked on one of the windows making it highly integrated without any special fuss.
The attendants are neatly dressed and from time to time offer the prescribed food for the journey. The food is not exactly sumptuous but not bad either. I do have grouses in the fact that the journey from Chennai to Bangalore does not offer great tasting food and it can be done better. Another grouse is that the attendants converse in Hindi mostly on a South Indian train. With due regards to the national language, its a thought whether they can do better with English, Tamil or Kannada considering the context of the states the train passes through.
The ceiling of the compartment feels similar to an airbus or boeing plane and the quality of materials is top notch. Few notable things which add nice touch are the sun glare screens which are easy to use, and the near perfect temperature control which is soothing. In summary, the Shatabdi remains the popular icon of fast, reasonably priced smooth travel for many a set of people drawn from the young and old alike. The new changes effected only enhance the image of the service making it a great option to use instead of even an economy flight! With growing needs, the train is now equipped to add on wireless internet, and telephone services to augment what is already available. The railways seems to consider the Shatabdi as one of the important bread earners in their family of trains and is leaving no stone unturned to churn out better ideas as time progresses.
Finally, similar to the famous Harry Potter scene where Harry enters a platform number 9 3/4 th by running into it, to board the Hogwarts Express train, which is a mythical train, the Shatabdi too leaves Chennai from platform 2A (between platforms 2 and 3) though only in this case, this is a real platform that actually exists half way down in between platforms 2 and 3!
(Some images are copyrighted to their respective owners – they are reproduced here from the original web locations, and due credits are given to these)