Will The Frills On Railway’s Tejas Pull Frequent Flyers Its Way?
Tejas Express started plying India’s picturesque Konkan coastline last week.
Tablet computers, automated doors, curated meals, and touchless taps. No, these aren’t the facilities on offer at a multimillion dollar smart home, or even the amenities on board a luxury cruise liner for that matter.
In fact, these features might soon become standard on India’s new range of luxury trains that go by the name Tejas Express.
Tejas Express is the railway ministry’s attempt to take the Indian Railway into the future, and while they’re at it, they want to convince some frequent flyers to take the scenic route.
One particular feature is borrowed directly from the aircraft – a button above the seat that summons a steward.
The superfast train, which started plying India’s picturesque Konkan coastline last week, kickstarts its journey from Mumbai’s Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus at 5:00 am on five days of the week. It doesn’t run on Mondays and Thursdays.
Some commuters BloombergQuint spoke to said they were inconvenienced by the early start to the journey, but almost all agreed that the features on the train, and the rolling landscape that can be viewed from its panoramic windows, were compensation enough.
“Timing for the Mumbai people might need to be revisited,” said Mukesh Mehta, a commuter on the train. “People staying on the Western line (in Mumbai’s suburbs) need to come to VT (CST) station, which takes more than an hour. So people staying in Goregaon, Borivali will take more than an hour to reach.”
Having said that, Mehta also pointed out that most people travelling on the Konkan railway would prefer a day journey.
All of this comes at a price higher than the railway’s old warhorses. For a chair car ticket, a passenger would have to pay Rs 1,110, and for a seat on the train’s only executive chair car, the price is much steeper at Rs 2,585, as per information available on indianrail.gov.in.
But the price is justified, commuters said. It is still cheaper than the standard airfare between Mumbai and Goa, and as one commuter put it, “Flight mein kuch dikhega nahin upar se.”
A Revolution In The Making?
The service has admittedly just been introduced, and commuters will find most of the features on the train novel. Additionally, the true potential of the India-made Tejas Express is yet to be realised.
The train, capable of travelling at 200 km/hour, is restricted to under 160 km/hour because the rail infrastructure does not support the top speed yet. In the monsoon, which lasts for around four months, this speed will be severely curtailed.
Still, some commuters are looking at this optimistically, viewing it as a start of something better.
(This article was first published on BloombergQuint)
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