UPDATE: On 23rd November 2019, a couple of friends and I traveled by Tejas Express from Chennai to Trichy – C3, 45, 46 and 47. The whole compartment had the entertainment systems switched off. When enquired, the response was it wasn’t working. Toilets were shabby, flush didn’t work well. A very average experience overall! After the initial gloss faded, guess its back to what ‘normal’ is! Since this is one of the most-read posts on my blog, wanted to get the information across.
Its over a month since I wrote a blog! Its not like I haven’t been eating out lately, just busy days at work and not enough time to write an elaborate review. Short ones go out on my Facebook page, or on Zomato directly. Since my previous post on Shatabdi Express between Chennai and Coimbatore, and the food IRCTC served on board was well-received, wanted to document my experience on Tejas Express between Chennai and Madurai as well.
A short vacation was planned and a trip to Madurai with family happened. After hearing about Tejas express, booked it well in advance. On the day of travel, we walked into Chennai Egmore and it didn’t take long to spot the brightly-colored Tejas Express in Yellow. Scheduled to depart at 6 AM in the morning, we were there quite early and couldn’t wait to get in. The interiors seemed pretty good and kids were excited to see LCD screens in front of all seats, a luxury predominantly reserved for flight travel abroad. The doors were opened for passengers around 05:30 AM and we walked into an already cooled compartment. Nice to have the AC switched on earlier.
We settled down and immediately kids started to explore the various features. Snack table was folded under the armrest and could be pulled out, similar to what you see in flights. Charging point for mobiles was convenient. Another thing that caught my attention was the motor-operated blinds for the windows which was quite convenient. Automatic sliding doors was catchy. I didn’t have great expectations with the LCD screen, basically assumed it was going to be some standard movie for all. I was pleasantly surprised to see a personalized entertainment section, with a choice of movies and songs, albeit limited. Kids couldn’t be happier as there was a movie from the Avengers series. You could buy headphones for twenty bucks, basic but worked well. Since wifey and I had headphones of our mobiles, we used that.
Coming to the food, a tray with a couple of digestive biscuits came first, followed by tea/coffee. Both were premixed powders and you only had to add hot water. Sadly, it included milk powder, so you couldn’t have your coffee or tea black. This has been one of my grudges for a long time now. How much does it cost to serve one good filter coffee instead of all these premixed mediocre versions? Breakfast followed and this time, it was much better than the Shatabdi experience. A chocolate muffin, two slices of brown bread with butter were pretty good. Idly and Vadai, not hot, but pretty good. Sambhar was tasty, chutney was the sole disappointment and a lame excuse for one. Managed pretty much with the sambhar. After a while, we were served a tetra-pack of apple juice, it was good. Since the train reached Madurai by 12:30 PM, lunch wasn’t included. Got down at Madurai Junction and couldn’t help but notice the spotlessly clean platforms with all announcement panels working, fans in full speed, it was quite a delight to see.
After a wonderful vacation with extended family, came back to catch the same train to Chennai. Needless to say, in the middle of May, it was extremely hot outside. Entered the railway station just with less than thirty minutes for departure. Spotted the IRCTC Executive Lounge with nominal tariff, entered just out of curiosity and it was pretty good. We had very little time, otherwise would have certainly tried the food. You could choose to have the buffet or just relax without food. A very convenient option for those having some time before the train. Again, walked into a nicely cold compartment. Thanks to the guys who ensured AC was effective in spite of the maddening heat outside.
After we settled down, the first thing to come to our seats was a snack tray. Of course both ways, we given a water bottle each. The snack tray contained a chocolate, a samosa and ketchup, small pack of salted peanuts and a small biscuit packet. This time, opted for tea and it was a shade better than coffee I had during the onward journey. After a gap, we were served tomato soup and bread sticks with butter. Soup was tasty, absolutely no complaints. Dinner followed after a while and it had 2 pcs of chappathi, white rice, dal, paneer gravy, pickle sachet and a cup of curd. Paneer gravy was decent, rest of them were good. Rice and Dal was very tasty. Chappathi could have been softer, but then, not worth complaining. Ice cream followed and it was a nice end to the meal.
Overall, this time the experience was much better in terms of comfort and food. I am assuming the Executive class will be even more comfortable, and since it was priced more than a fight, didn’t opt for it. The regular class is priced around 1100 bucks for a ticket and I would say it is absolutely worth it considering all these comforts on board.
Came back home with a nice feeling of how Indian Railways is transforming for the better. However, it is still up to the passengers to ensure trains are left clean and neat for the next traveler.