Currently, the best way to travel Bangalore/Chennai is via the Shatabdi train. The other alternatives all lack in some way. Road travel is a pain because of getting in/out of the cities and can get expensive. Flying is not practical for a distance of ~350 kms. The Shatabdi beats the bus both in journey time and cost. Now, while the Shatabdi is good, there is a lot of room for improvement.
- Make catering optional. Not everybody relishes the “gourmet” food – and the catering charge is close to Rs. 200, so making this optional would be a great move.
- While the food quality leaves a lot to be desired, the menu planning itself is ridiculous. Why serve messy options such as dal and curry which is difficult to package and is liable to spill on a train ?
- The forced “entertainment”. This is completely ill-conceived. There are two TV’s that are mounted on one side in the centre of the coach that broadcast welcome messages, random fillers like “candid camera” and cut scenes from movies. The audio is played out loudly through the TV speakers. Why inflict this torture ? Even for those who want to watch, not all the seats offer optimum viewing angles and the audio is too loud for some and not audible to others. Either provide seat mounted screens like aircraft or provide headphone jacks.
- Reduce journey time. Currently Shatabdi takes 5 hours. Why so long for a journey of 350km’s ? Shatabdi’s are supposed to be a super-fast train (for which the railways levy a surcharge). The journey time must be reduced to atleast four hours.
Shatabdi is supposed to be the premier passenger experience on Indian Railways. Hopefully it improves.