Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Nostalgia - travel by train

It started more as a lark.  Friends mentioned that the Indian Railways was extra kind to women.  At 58, they could avail the senior citizen concession and that too a very generous 50% .  This was peak season with school holidays and the only tickets available were the 1 AC. And so our adventure began.

As the train rolled in, it really looked as if the coaches were ancient.  They deserved a heritage listing I thought.  The AC coach of the Hyderabad Chennai express was quite pathetic.  The curtains were torn, the switches were dirty.  But the berth was comfortable.  We got a coupé and and the journey was not too  long and so we decided not to be critical.  It was nice to hear the vendors go by selling Chai, Coffee and Mosa....  We wondered what mosa was till he continued Mosa, Mosa, Samosa....  Did we try them?  No.  At one time no vendor would have gone by without a purchase being made, but this time we carried homemade food and bottled water.

I wish they would clean up not just the trains but the areas around the tracks closer to the stations. Even an increase of the fare by a rupee, considering the numbers that use the trains, could provide livelihood to people who would willingly clean up the place. It just requires a will to do it. 

The journey was otherwise comfortable and I had the best sleep in years !  

I would have thought that was the first and last train journey of this leg. There was much to be desired in way of cleanliness at the station and on the train.  But we had an unplanned trip to Madurai and the air tickets were way too expensive and the location of the bus station was not convenient.  So we looked at the Indian Railways again.  And with our concession it made sense for another train journey.  And by now, we knew what to expect !

We chose to travel by 2AC to Madurai by the Duronto Epxress.  This was a recent route that was introduced , bi-weekly, and to our surprise considering this was holiday season, the train was empty.  Traveling as senior citizens has its  benefits especially if the Ticket Inspector is not young either. There was immediate empathy.  We had the side berths that we wanted to change and he gave us two lower berths in a four berth cubicle, with the two upper berths vacant, and it was like having a big room to ourselves.

Our last journey was by the Pandiyan Express.  Once again by 1 AC and what a pleasant change this was.  The compartment was sparkling.  So clean, you could walk barefoot.  The linen was spotless.  This ride restored my faith in the Railways.  If they could do it on one train, they could repeat it with others. At least I hope so. 

I did notice a few plus points.  There was better seating at the stations.  More facilities.  The railways website IRCTC is quite user-friendly for booking and cancellations.  And all the three trains departed and arrived on the dot.  In some cases a few minutes early.  That was indeed a pleasant surprise. 

A piece of advice, do not travel First AC unless you can avail the concession.  It is not worth it at the full fare which can work out more than the fare on a low cost airline. 

And well, will this be my last train ride.... I don't think so. 


  1. I feel the govt. is doing its best. People are irresponsible. For the size of our population, the railways are doing their job well.

    Yes, they can increase the fare by a rupee or two and keep the places cleaner. People also should help.

  2. Yes, totally agree with you Sandhya.

  3. I am glad you had some nice words for Indian Railways.They are doing mind boggling job.If there is any shortfall in service and cleanliness,it is because of some individuals failing in their duty.
    I agree with you on the need to keep the stations odour free.This is sadly wanting.
    It is very long since I travelled by train but I wish to.

  4. I agree..we have so much unemployment inIndia and so much work needs to be done..only we need people to connect the dots...
    We have progressed a lot, only citizens need to be responsible now.

  5. Train journeys bring back pleasant memories of my childhood days. Though it's been a while since I took a train, I can absolutely relate to what you're talking about. I've been there, seen that! And yes, wish every citizen / passenger did their bit to keep the environment / train / station clean.

  6. Train journey I enjoy as if we are little children swinging on swings.What you said is true.But for its filthy surroundings train journey is comfortable.Nice topic.

  7. Nice post. Whenever we visit India (almost every year). we travel by AC First Class - if available. We like it so much. The only problem is - no matter if it is AC First Class or 8th class - the bathrooms are always dirty and nasty smelling.


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