To Surat and Back by Shatadbi

Continuing this series on journeys through the Christmas-New Year vacation period, there were two more train trips – to Surat and back by train (Shatadbi). Surat is about 265 kilometres from Mumbai, and Shatadbi covers the distance in about 3 hours and 20 minutes. (It covers the 500-km stretch between Mumbai-Ahmedabad in 7 hours.)
The train compartments were a revelation – new and bigger, huge windows, sleek and modern-looking, much more comfortable seats in the chair car, more space for overhead luggage, brighter lighting, and better toilets.

I also saw the ticket collector with a handheld device which had the train reservation charts on it – that seems to definitely be a step in the right direction.

Trains are the most efficient way to travel in India. What we do need is a programme like China has for creating high-speed trains between cities in India. With trains capable of doing 350-400 kilometres an hour, Mumbai-Delhi could be reduced to four hours from the 16 that the Rajdhani takes. That would be the day!

5 thoughts on “To Surat and Back by Shatadbi

  1. India needs huge investment in its infrastructure. We need more and better roads and trains. The huge investment needed to make these things happen would be huge. Everyone talks about these things and nothing happens at the speed at which requirements are increasing.

  2. High speed trains would definitely help reduce the flight hassles … Not many cities in India are too far… but running those 300+km/hr trains on the same track is a nightmare…considering the small-small towns in between and their Cris-Cross .

  3. This is an interesting subject. I had drafted a white paper on Railways and have been continually revising it. I will comment on three topics you touched upon here. When you consider trains to connect City A to City B, high speed trains are helpful. But it helps about 30 percent of the Indian population at best. 70 percent of the rural population needs the trains to reach their towns and villages, stop, and serve them. You need trains with characteristics like high speed and high acceleration and deceleration, and fast loading.
    The chair cars are good looking but the space for the overhead luggage is too narrow that the heavy steel trunks, which the Indian travelers place there to dangle precariously, scare me to death. A trunk fell on the head of the daughter of a friend of ours while she was traveling in a train in Tamil Nadu some twenty years ago. She was injured badly; luckily she survived and is well now. Indian Railways have to handle heavy luggage as checked in baggage.
    The ticket collector should be designated as the conductor with responsibilities to check tickets, collect fares, serve passengers, provide information, ensure the security and safety of passengers, and communicate with train operators in case of emergency. In case of fire or terrorist attacks, there should be no need for passengers to scream and use their cell phones.
    As more trains are pressed into service, they impede traffic on the cross roads with no flyovers and pedestrian walkways and pathways all along the thousands of kilometers of the tracks.