“Faster, premium and state of the art train travel” is what the Tejas Express offers. Commencing 19th January 2020, this is the second private train in India, run by IRCTC.
On 4th Feb 2020, I caught this new train no. 82901 at Borivali, the first of its six stops between Mumbai Central and Ahmedabad stations, to my destination Vadodara (for the 3rd National Masters Games). The 362 km would be covered in 4 hours. [The six stops – Borivali, Vapi, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Nadiad]
There were not many people waiting at Borivali station and as we all settled down we saw that there were quite a few empty seats, which were taken at the next stop, Vapi.
My family had jokingly told me that they’d be expecting a TV and headphones when I returned, remembering the news reports of the first Mumbai-Goa Tejas. (read the article here) Fortunately, I guess the railways learnt its lesson. No TV or headphones on board. A Magic Box instead. I didn’t need to try it as I had engaging company – a professor of sports nutrition on one side and a retired old gentleman on the other. The window blinds are electronically operated – there are buttons to move them up and down and adjust the angle.
The traditionally dressed crew members (it seems on the Ahmedabad-Mumbai leg, they wear a Gandhi topi instead of the colourful cap) serve you water and a snack quite soon after Borivali. Samosas, bakarwadi and a drink. Most welcome, especially for those who have skipped lunch amidst finishing work before heading to the station. And then there’s a choice of various teas/coffees. Dinner was scrumptious. Rice, dal, roti, vegetable, curd and shrikhand. Hand sanitiser and wet wipe included. The old man was getting off at Bharuch, so he got his food packed, expecting to get off soon.
About 35 km from Bharuch, the train made an unscheduled stop at Kim station. And then it proceeded, only to stop again at Ankleshwar. As the train kept getting delayed, people started talking about the compensation they would receive for delayed arrival. Less than a fortnight earlier, it was in the news that passengers had been compensated (read about it here). The LED screen gave us no information about the holdup.
I did make a couple of visits to the toilet, and was expecting them to be exceptional. Though colourful inside, they were just above average, quite similar to any other passenger train. The basin was blocked with food scraps and the mirror platform already had cracks. Looked like the train coach was a retrofitted one.
After spending over 20 minutes at Ankleshwar, there was an on-board announcement saying that the train would depart in around 10 minutes, and asking us to stay calm. As promised, the train did leave and just as we were out of the station we saw what had caused the delay. A goods train had got badly derailed, and it must have been quite a task to clear the tracks.
Finally, the scheduled 20:18 arrival at Vadodara happened at almost 22:00. While we were preparing to alight, they announced that we indeed would get compensation for the delay and asked us to look out for an SMS from IRCTC. As I write this, the Rs 100 has already been credited to my bank.
All in all, the Tejas Express is a comfortable way to travel. Enjoy the IRCTC hospitality.