Last Thursday I went to Bangalaore by the Shadabthi Express. The first thing that struck me was the difference in the onward and return fares. The latter was lesser. It took me some time to sort that out.
It was my maiden trip by the much touted Shadabthi. Clean compartment. The wide seats, two abreast with fold back middle arm rest, were comfortable. The airconditioning was just right. The toilets were spotless. They had paper rolls and genuine undiluted liquid soap.
Shortly after we left Chennai Central at 5.30 p.m. high tea was laid out – sandwich, samosa, wafers in three different flavors, and so on. Most of the passengers stuffed the goodies into their bags.
Then it was dinner time. Again substantial quantities served by smartly attired bearers. Quite tasty too. All included in the fare. Read for sometime and presto we were in Bangalore Cantt. The distance of about 355kms was covered in approximately 4 ½ hours.
The return train yesterday was to start at 6 a.m. Reached the City Station at 5.30 only to be told that Shadabthi was cancelled. Informing passengers over phone about such changes is apparently not a part of the railway culture.
After a while I was told that three additional AC chair cars were being attached to the Lal Baugh Express leaving at 6.30. I got a seat in a 1992 vintage coach. One could buy breakfast from vendors (railway employees?) wearing clothes that required washing a week ago.
Half an hour out of Chennai Central it was announced that the train was being diverted to Egmore Terminus. The reason? Two bogies of another train had derailed at Central Station. But that had happened the previous night. The passengers could have been informed even before our train left Bangalore.
Since my driver has a mobile phone I could direct him to Egmore. Passengers who didn’t have that facility had to engage taxi or auto rickshaw from Egmore to Central for boarding their cars.
One must however acknowledge that the hefty difference between Shadabthi and the Lal Baugh Express fares was refunded within half hour of reaching Egmore at the end of the 6 ½ hours journey.
Now, the reason for the fare disparity between the Bangalore bound and return Shadabthi - on the outward journey high tea and dinner are served while only breakfast is provided when you come back.
The Shadabthi Express is good – when it runs!
Memories: Shoeless on suburban train.
Travel: Shendurney, the Royal Tree
Bangalore: Of a club, a park and a Chief Secretary couple