Let alone speed, country’s fastest train Gatimaan Express does not offer that semi-luxury travel which railways promised to offer in the first semi-high speed train announced two-years ago. There is just a time difference of 7 minutes between Gatimaan and Bhopal Shatabdi.
The idea of semi-high speed trains conceived two years back was to provide better facilities to passengers than Shatabdis. The plan devised by railways in 2014 was to provide a good experience to passengers with facilities like internal display systems, automatic door sensors, better décor and interiors and airplane like infotainment system among others.
According to senior railways officials, with rakes nearly similar to Shatabdi coaches, passengers are paying almost 50 percent more fare for services slightly better than the Shatabdi. This is the first among the nine semi-high speed trains announced by the government.
“The train has been flagged off in a hurry as there was lot of pressure from top authorities in the government to run it. There is no comparison between services and amenities that were planned initially to be provided to passengers travelling in Gatimaan and being offered now,” said a senior railway official.
Many passengers also feel that fare is on higher side compared to services offered as there is not much difference in the two trains.
“I thought experience of travelling in a semi-high speed train will be really different but I am disappointed as when it comes to facilities there is nothing much for passengers despite paying high fare. It’s good to have hostess and steward on train but I don’t think I am paying for that and railways should seriously think of improving services to make passengers feel good,” said Kanika Gupta, who travelled to Agra by Gatimaan.
The entire onboard arrangements, ranging from catering to housekeeping to provision of hostesses is managed by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd. (IRCTC), a ‘mini Ratna’ PSU of Indian Railways.
Like Shatabdi, the coaches of Gatimaan have been fitted with bio toilets and coaches in both the trains are fit to run at 160 kmph. Called as unique feature, Gatiman like New Delhi-Chandigarh Shatabdi offers free of cost on board entertainment facility.
A railways official said that safety continues to remain an issue as of the 185 kilometer Nizamuddin-Agra section, only 40 km is fenced and Commissioner Railway Safety has given time till March 2017 to complete the entire fencing.