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!