Expecting value for money? Shatabdi ain’t an option
For a reality check, Hindustan Times travelled in the Kalka-New Delhi Shatabdi and the New Delhi-Amritsar Swarn Shatabdi, last Friday.punjab Updated: Nov 07, 2017 16:52 IST
“Why are you calling this train, as ‘Swarn’, with such dirty and stinking washrooms”; “Terrible experience in Shatabdi. Poor quality food”; “The washroom is too small to even enter and then water is strewn all over and there is no handwash available. I paid Rs 1,200 for this seat” (sic).
These are some comments mentioned in the complaint books of the Kalka-New Delhi Shatabdi and the New Delhi-Amritsar Swarnn Shatabdi. But this is not the end. There are more; about them, we will talk later.
Of late, there has been a surge in complaints against the services offered on board the Shatabdi trains. Despite the hefty fares, services have failed to meet people’s expectations. Poor quality food and unkempt washrooms rule the roost in the list of complaints. Angry passengers have also expressed their anguish on the social media, but their problems persist.
For a reality check, Hindustan Times travelled in the Kalka-New Delhi Shatabdi and the New Delhi-Amritsar Swarn Shatabdi, last Friday.
The ticket collector on board the Kalka-New Delhi Shatabdi reluctantly showed the complaint book after three requests. There were 45 complaints in it, of which 50% were regarding the quality of food.
The ticket collector on board the Kalka-New Delhi Shatabdi reluctantly showed the complaint book — there were 45 complaints, 50% regarding food quality.
Here are some samples from it: “Improvement needed big time in meals served in Shatabdi”; “Food is bad. Why do we have to pay such high fares to travel in Shatabdi”; “The food should have been heated before bringing to the table at least”; “Indian railways should stop serving food, we don’t want to die of food poisoning”; “Expired food served. Please take strict action” (sic).
The scenario in the New Delhi-Amritsar Swarn Shatabdi was no different. The washrooms were stinking, and the complaints harsher. A sample: “It is very sad to state that a very poor quality of food is served to us in this train. We can never suggest this train to anybody” (sic).
Other complaints were against non-functional LCDs, broken chairs and consistent delays.
When asked about the state of affairs, Dinesh Chand Sharma, divisional railways manager (DRM) of Ambala division, said, “Shatabdi trains are our premier services and they are different from other trains. Cleanliness depends on passengers. You should check the washrooms when the train starts. If an individual makes some efforts towards maintaining cleanliness, others will also benefit.”
“Besides, sweepers are available by making a simple call on the train itself,” he added.
About the quality of food, he said, “IRCTC is the right agency to answer this. But we have laid standards to ensure quality. When you are served good food for 100 days, nothing happens. But if there is a problem even one day, an issue is made out of it.”
Meanwhile, Anil Kumar Saxena, national spokesperson of the railway ministry, said, “We don’t have a Shatabdi-centric data, but food quality and sanitation are the common problems in all trains. For cleanliness, we have an on board housekeeping service. There is also a mobile application where staff can be called to your coach to clean it in real time.”