Over the last 15 months, I have stayed away from my family. I must have made 17+ trips from Bangalore to Pune. Most of them were flight journeys in low cost carriers. Very soon, I started hating these flight journeys. The primary reasons were a) Cheaper red eye flights made me miserable on the next days b) Bangalore airport is horribly far off and city traffic+ taxi cost gave me heart burns.. c) I hate being frisked..
Trains mostly showed waitlist for tickets , so I started traveling in KSRTC ac buses . These buses are faster than the trains (Some guys tell me that a politician runs a bus service and he is blocking moves to acquire land which can make train journey between Bangalore and Pune an overnight one). The legroom and claustrophobic sleeper buses never gave me a pleasurable travel experience.
This time I decided to try train and approx a month ago, booked a 2 AC ticket in Sampark Kranti express. I didnt expect the experience to turn out to be so good. Here are the things which have changed beautifully.
I landed up at Yeshwanthpur station of Bangalore for my train to Pune by train. I noticed the following :
1. No garbage no stink :Every 20 feet or so , I saw a stainless steel garbage bins. People were not throwing garbage here and there. All used wrappers of toffee, biscuits were finding its way into bins
2. Shine on the floors : The floor of railway platform shone with a gloss. It was as good and clean as Bangalore international airport and much cleaner than dilapidated Pune airport.
3. Automation on the roll : As I wondered how the platform is so clean, I saw a person sitting on cool motorized platform cleaning vehicle do a round. The mops below his vehicle were polishing the platform floor and in 1 hour,I saw him sweep twice i.e 30 minutes frequency. When we make the dirt work easier and classy, work gets done better 🙂
It looks like this :
4. Dignity of work : Most of the cleaning staff were wearing good uniform with agency name. This, I think, makes the cleaning staff feel good about themselves. The dignity of cleanliness as a profession has been restored.
5. Awesome Beverages : I often hate the railway chai but in the compartment as the Chai guy gave a call, I thought I will ask for a coffee. I was wondering whether it will be anything like coffee. The guy showed me Nescafe Cappuccino premix.It cost Rs 30/=. but it tasted great. // In flights I often buy it for Rs 100/=
6. Impeccable washrooms : When I went to wash room, I saw it specklessly and clean. It had stainless steel paneling and it shone. The wash basin had good Jaquar fittings, flush worked effectively. Not only the washroom had a good working fan, it also had an exhaust fan.
7.Bio toilets : This train has bio toilets which means turds do not fly all over the railway track // Great thing that a joke that India’s railway tracks are the world’s biggest toilet will soon become memories of past .
Actually it looks even better than the image shown and yes I also noticed a deodorizer in the wash room.
8. Charging points : The mobile laptop charging point worked perfectly and it let me work efficiently using my hotspot. In fact , this blog has been fully written in train
9. Luxurious upholstery : The upholstery for seats looks luxurious brown. As I ran my hand on it, it felt great.
10. Round the clock cleanliness : The train is covered under OBHS (Onboard Houskeeping service) which means highest degree of hygiene. I saw full instructions for the housekeeping staff pasted near the washrooms and phone numbers of officers to get in touch if the hygiene goes bad.
11. Standard branded food : We all have cribbed about food in Railways.. and I was skeptical that I should order. I asked the Steward who is cooking and where is he from. He replied that food is coming from Comesum. I am waiting in anticipation for good food as well..
PS: I have heard horror stories about how Tatkal scheme doesnt work and Diwali rush for tickets is killing. I booked the ticket for 27th Oct on 26th and got it First time right without a glitch using my IRCTC wallet..
This is my best travel experience between Bangalore to Pune and I will be travelling in trains more often. I strongly encourage you to experience OBHS covered trains, its the new shining India for middle class 🙂