The train journey in the superfast Bhavnagar Express was very comfortable. We were in II class 3-tier Sleeper (‘S’ class) on our way to Songadh, and in I class, 2-tier AC (‘A’ class) on our return. I must say the A-class experiences was truly exceptional. It makes me want to travel more by train – and perhaps I will as Abhishek grows up. Trains are a great way to have him see more of the countryside, and much more conversation-starting than sitting in an aeroplane and looking out at the clouds!While I am not much of a talker with others, Bhavana is. On both legs, she struck up conversations with people around. And that’s another difference between trains and planes. Perhaps, the leisurely pace of life as it goes by in a train relaxes people and makes them more open to talking with others around. (I too joined in the conversation after Bhavana started it.)
The only jarring note was the delay on the return trip. Apparently, 6+ hours at Bhavnagar was not enough to get the ‘maintenance’ done on the train. It departed 75 minutes late from its starting point, and ended up reaching Mumbai an hour behind schedule. We did not find out about the delay until we reached Songadh station. Perhaps, the Indian Railways could do SMS alerts like some airlines do. I did call up their 139 inquiry number and even spoke to a call centre executive – a nice experience overall, even though I could not fathom the reason for the delay until I asked the Ticket Collector on the train. And from what I understood, it is quite a regular occurrence. Punctuality of train travel along with customer notification in case of delays is something which should be taken more seriously by the Railways.
On a related note, Netcore (MyToday) has started SMS updates from Western Railway. To subscribe, simple sms START WRUPDATES <YourNearestStation> to 09845298452. Now, if only this could be extended for real-time train notifications…!