Tejas Express at Mumbai Central on Friday. (Express Photo)
“Welcome to Tejas Express”, said a rail hostess to each passenger, offering them a red rose soon after the train pulled out of Ahmedabad station, embarking on its inaugural run on Friday.
On its inaugural run, the Ahmedabad-Mumbai Tejas Express — the country’s second “corporate” train to be operated by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) — had its own share of teething troubles with delayed departure and executive class passengers complaining of poor coach design, while others finding the train timings ideal for shuttling between the two cities.
Tejas will compete with Railways’ premium Shatabdi Express. (Reuters)
Soon after the train entered platform 1 of Ahmedabad station, folk dancers performed on the rhythms of a traditional dhol with 11 priests carrying out the customary puja. As passengers boarded the train, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijaybhai Rupani showed it the green flag, signaling its departure.
To ensure an uninterrupted function, a few members of Western Railway Mazdoor Sang were detained by the RPF, as they tried to protest against Railways’ move to privatise train operations.
Tejas will compete with Railways’ premium Shatabdi Express. While it is only 20 minutes faster, it offers a wider range of services, including pre-booking of luggage, onboard entertainment, improved catering and security with insurance for passengers.
As passengers boarded the train, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijaybhai Rupani showed it the green flag, signaling its departure. (PTI Photo)
Tejas is scheduled to depart from Ahmedabad at 6.40 am to reach Mumbai Central at 1.10 pm. It will again leave Mumbai Central at 3.40 pm and reach Ahmedabad at 9.55 pm.
But for the inaugural run, the departure was scheduled at 9.30 am. However, around 5 pm on Thursday, all 736 passengers were intimated that the train has been rescheduled to 10.30 am. IRCTC officials said Railways Minister Piyush Goyal was supposed to flag off the train and thus, it was rescheduled to 10.30 am. However, Goyal did not turn up.
“He was caught up in reviewing work at Kevadiya station... So, it was flagged off by the Gujarat CM around 10.45 am,” said an official. Rajni Hasina, Director (Tourism and Marketing) of IRCTC, said that as it was an inaugural run, the timings were kept flexible.
Nav Borah, a senior vice-president at Mikaya Brands Private Limited, said it was only after he reached the station at 9.15 am that he realised that the train has been delayed. Borah, who was traveling in the executive class, felt the seats were not as comfortable as those in Mumbai-Ahmedabad Shatabdi. Yuvraj Rathode Singh, who was traveling from Ahmedabad to Baruch, echoed his sentiments. “The executive coaches of Shatabdi are a lot better,” Rathod, a contractor for roads, said.
Rathod also gave his feedback to IRCTC Chairman and Managing Director Mahendra Pratap Mall, who spoke to passengers on board. As Rathode was speaking, a panel covering the lights in the executive coach’s alley fell off. The officials admitted that the coaches used in Tejas had been lying ideal for about a year in Ahmedabad yards, resulting them in getting loose. “But these are just teething issues and will be fixed,” assured Hasija.
Chinmay Kole, a 23-year old YouTuber, said Tejas is a luxurious train as was Mumbai-Karmali Tejas Express, when it was inaugurated. “But when I traveled on it last week, all onboard entertainment equipment were hardly working. The automatic doors had to be manually operated. Standard should be maintained...,” said Kole, who has over 90,000 followers for his YouTube channel dedicated only to trains.
As the train pulled in at Mumbai Central around 4.45 pm, 17 minutes late — covering the distance in 5 hours and 50 minutes — it was greeted to the beats of Maharashtrian dhol. It again left for Ahmedabad around 6 pm for its return journey