Train Review: Shatabdi Express (First Class)
The Shatabdi Express is one of the so-called “super fast trains” in India. While this may sound like the Shatabdi Express would be a really fast train, it is extremely slow for European standards. With average speed of 50 kilometers per hour, the trains still take ages for longer distances. Besides that, the Shatabdi Express First Class nearly reaches European standards in terms of comfort.
Train reviews are something I really liketo write. That’s especially true when we are talking of trains in countries, which are not as developed as most European nations (where trains play a more crucial role in general).
The Shatabdi Express is a good example for a train, which seems to be the highest standard in its country, but which is not really “amazing” compared to what I know from Europe.
Nevertheless, it’s worth pointing out that the Shatabdi Express First Class is indeed fairly nice. Yet, it’s also worth noting that the different Shatabdi’s in India are slightly varying in terms of catering and seating.
For the record, I took the Dehradun Shatabdi from Delhi to Dehradun and vice versa.
Seating in the Shatabdi Express First Class
Taking the Shatabdi Express was one of the experiences I was really looking forward to. The train category is the highest in India and the trains are also the fastest operating in the country.
At the same time, the trains are also completely different when it comes to the seating. While nearly all other train categories in India offer sleeper cars, the Shatabdi Express trains come with open plan seating with “normal” chairs.
That’s due to the fact that the trains only travel during the day. The seating in the Shatabdi Express First Class looks a little past its prime, but is fine that. There are large cloth seats in a 2-2 configuration, which are also quite comfortable.
We were seated at one of the two tables in the train. Those are very spacious, but the distance between the seats and the table is a little too big to work comfortably. What’s absolutely amazing in the Shatabdi Express First Class it the recline, which is way better than I’m used to.
Catering in the Shatabdi Express First Class
While catering in First Class is not the standard in the First Class in Indian trains, there is an extensive catering in the Shatabdi Express trains.
While I wasn’t really amazed by the catering options on the way from Delhi to Dehradun, I was heavily impressed by the catering on the way back.
In the morning, the meal service in the Shatabdi Express First Class started with cornflakes with hot milk. Approximately two hours later, the real breakfast including a hot Indian dish and two slices of toast was served.
Moreover, you get a large bottle of water at departure and also benefit of two drink services (tea once and a weird spiced buttermilk afterwards) during the ride.
On the way back, catering in the Shatabdi Express First Class started with a soup, which was served with a roll and was followed by an extensive meal with a non-veg or vegetarian meal of your choice, rice and some naan.
While I couldn’t really identify any of the two hot meals, they were actually quite tasty. To finish off the meal in the Shatabdi Express First Class, we were served some ice cream.
Entertainment in the Shatabdi Express First Class
While it most likely takes some more years till trains in India will come with something like Wi-Fi, there are some decent old school entertainment options right now. Upon boarding, several different newspapers (some in English, some in Hindi) await you at your Shatabdi Express First Class seat.
While this is the only option of entertainment, you may also enjoy looking out of the window as the train is slow enough to enjoy great views of the varying nature in India.
Bottom line Shatabdi Express First Class
Taking the Shatabdi Express First Class has two major downsides: the trains are relatively slow and happen to have some delays (and there’s no information about those) and the toilets are not really on Western standards.
While there are three toilets per car in the Shatabdi Express First Class, only two are real toilets, which are still not very modern and accommodating. Besides that, I actually found the Shatabdi Express First Class to be quite a nice train.
While European trains are by no means more luxurious, the Shatabdi Express definitely is the only Indian train with international standards. That said, I’d definitely recommend the Shatabdi for shorter rides in India!