I have had prior experience of travelling in the Chandigarh-New Delhi Jan Shatabdi Express train. Both the times the train was more than two hours behind schedule. It is not a big deal for the Indian Railways but for a 4-5 hour journey even a delay of half an hour makes a difference, to the passengers of course and not the Railways. I prefer the Kalka-New Delhi Shatabdi Express which has been by far the most comfortable experience while travelling from New Delhi to Chandigarh and vice versa. It’s the next best thing to travelling in your own car. Taking the aerial route isn’t always a good choice except for when you’ve got to get there quick because of both cost as well as the location of the airport (and mostly it’s present state). So Jan Shatabdi is like super ultra cheap mode to travel from New Delhi to Chandigarh. A seat in the second sitting class costs Rs. 107 which is even cheaper than a bus ride for the same trip. Apart from the cost things aren’t on the greener side for obvious reasons.
Somehow Indian Railways have always felt that if you’re travelling in a second class coach, you’re supposed to be slim. So they’ve fixed up seats real close. So much that if you’re sitting with an overweight woman, chances are you’ll be squeezed to death. It’s not the seats that I complain about. I am fairly slim enough to adjust to those but it’s the yahoo environment. No I’m not talking about Yahoo! the brand. I’m taking about the yahoo jungle environment in any typical coach. People are moving about in random, swapping open tiffin boxes across rows and rows of seats, asking the fellow passenger for pickle, ladies shouting at their husbands, kids running around like crazy and people talking at the top of their voices. If this was not enough there are those people who’re selling stuff to you in the train. They make chai sound like ‘chaaaiiiiiiiiii‘ and here the veg cutlets transform into ‘kaaaaaatlaaaaats‘. I have never dared with the food part. Not even packaged food. So much for those 100 bucks you spent on the trip.
Another thing I’ve come across is that you need not make reservations/bookings for this train. You can simply hop on, ask the ticket checker for a seat, pay the amount and make merry on the journey. Indian Railways can be amazing at times. Today our tickets were checked when we were just half an hour away from New Delhi. The security staff doesn’t identify passengers’ baggage unlike Shatabdi Express. So second class people who wanna pay a 20% of a regular express train fare can die on their journey. If you pay extra they’ll identify your baggage to ensure your safety. Also this time I boarded the train from the newly opened railway station at Mohali (SAS Nagar). It’s decent enough but don’t go too early or else you’ll end up freaked out standing alone at a God forsaken place.