Tejas Express: 9-inch LED TVs, wifi, celebrity chef menu, local cuisine, revamped luxurious interiors and much more – Suresh Prabhu-led Indian Railways’ new semi-high speed train for the Mumbai-Goa, Delhi-Chandigarh and Delhi-Lucknow routes promises to be a traveller’s delight! There is little doubt that the fully air conditioned Tejas Express, announced in Railway Budget 2016 and defined as the future of train travel in India, is a definite step up from the Shatabdi Express. Financial Express Online got onboard the new Tejas Express to review what Indian Railways is offering to passengers and whether it’s worth the money that they will pay.
Tejas Express: Special features and beyond
Indian Railways has pitched the Tejas Express as a train that offers airline-like features. Sample this: The executive chair car has an airline-like leg support and a comfortable head rest! Even the non-executive chair car has facilities like personalised reading lights and attendant call buttons. Each seat has a personalised touch control-enabled TV screen that allows you to play pre-recorded movies, music and also displays passenger information – another feature that is similar to airlines. Going ahead, these TVs are likely to offer the option of Live TV as well!
Watch now! Tejas Express video review – check out all the new features
The reclining seats in the train have improved upholstery (e-leather) and the armrests have also been redesigned to make them more comfortable. The Tejas Express boasts of an advanced smoke and fire detection and suppression system. Like the Humsafar Express, Tejas too has CCTV cameras for security and toilet occupancy indicators at each end of the coach. Digital destination boards, GPS-based passenger information display system, integrated braille displays, USB charging facility and energy efficient LED lights are some of the other prominent features of the Tejas.
To reduce water consumption, and keep tracks defecation free, bio-vaccum toilets have been installed. Other prominent features of the modern toilets include; water-level indicators, touchless water taps, soap dispenser, marble finish anti-graffiti coating, hand dryers and new design dustbins.
The mini pantry unit in each coach will have tea, coffee and soup vending options. According to Indian Railways, the menu on Tejas Express has been decided by celebrity chefs. Additionally, the menu boasts of local cuisine options, depending on the route the train is plying on. Below is the IRCTC menu for the Mumbai-Goa Tejas Express route:
For the first time ever, Indian Railways has introduced ‘automatic entrance plug-type doors’. The control of these doors lies with the guard – a good move to ensure safety of passengers and something we believe Indian Railways should look to introduce in all new trains. The automatic doors also help in better sound and heat insulation. The gangways are secured – hence reducing noise levels, dirt, sand, water ingress. The coaches of Tejas Express have an ‘anti-climbing’ feature. This means that in case of an accident, the coaches will not pile up. Yet another safety feature in the new coaches is that they are ‘crashworthy’ – implying that in the event of an accident, the maximum impact will be felt at the end of the coaches.
The exterior of the train has been given a fresh new feel – in hues of orange and yellow – the train is eye-catching. The vinyl wrapped specially designed exteriors are also graffiti proof – just like Humsafar and Antyodaya. The Tejas Express has been designed to operate at a maximum speed of 200 kmph – another move that shows that Railways wants to increase train speeds in the coming years. However, given the current condition of the Indian tracks, the Tejas Express will run at a maximum speed of 130 kmph. Indian Railways has installed new types of couplers in the Tejas Express to make sure that the journey is jerk-free even at higher speeds.
For now Indian Railways has decided to ply the Tejas Express on Mumbai-Goa, Delhi-Lucknow and Delhi-Chandigarh routes. The rakes for the latter two routes are under construction right now. According to the schedule of Indian Railways, Train No. 22119 Superfast Tejas Express will leave from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Mumbai at 05.00 hours on every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and reach Karmali at 13.30 hours on the same day. Similarly, Train No. 22120 Superfast Tejas Express will leave Karmali at 14.30 hours on every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and arrive Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Mumbai at 23.00 hours on the same day.
The above schedule is for the non-monsoon season. From June 10 to October 31, the Tejas Express will ply three times a week on the Mumbai-Goa route. For the monsoon season, Tejas Express will leave CST Mumbai at 05.00 hours on every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday and arrive Karmali at 15.30 hours on the same day. Hence, the train will take 10.5 hours instead of 8.5 hours during monsoon. Similarly, Tejas Express will leave Karmali at 07.30 hours on every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday and arrive CST Mumbai at 19.45 hours on the same day during monsoon.
How does the fare of Tejas Express compare to air travel?
As expected, the fares of Tejas Express are higher compared to Shatabdis – this is in line with Indian Railways’ new strategy to generate more revenue by offering hi-tech and better services to passengers who are willing to shell out a little more from their pockets. For the Mumbai-Goa trip, the fares for the full journey are Rs 1185 and Rs 2585 for the non-executive and executive chair cars respectively without catering. With catering, the charges are Rs 1310 and Rs 2740 for the non-executive and executive chair cars respectively. The full Tejas Express fare chart is given below:
We checked the air fares from Mumbai to Goa for May 24, the day when Tejas Express starts regular service. On a travel portal, the air fares for economy class start from approximately Rs 4,600. A check of the next few days reveals that the fares for a trip from Mumbai to Goa range between approximately Rs 1,700 to Rs 4,600. Not taking into account the time that you would save on a flight including the time to check in and collect baggage etc), we believe that the ticket pricing of Tejas Express is fairly competitive.
It’s a smart move by Indian Railways to add multiple facilities and improve passenger experience and train speed to increase revenue. People would be willing to pay a premium if the amenities are value for money and the train is on time. Tejas Express definitely gives a peep into what train travel in India would be like in the coming days, however it is extremely important for Railways to ensure maintenance of trains, punctuality, better speed and safety. If Indian Railways is able to consistently improve in these areas, it’s strategy to charge more and generate more revenue is likely to be rewarded.