INDIA’S first high-speed, semi-luxurious train service between Mumbai and Goa took its inaugural ride this week after much anticipation.
Tejas Express – capable of running at 200km/h – has been hailed as an “aeroplane moving on the ground”.
A far cry from some of India’s rickety, crammed rail services, the Tejas Express offers spacious seats, air-conditioning, vending machines, vacuum bio-toilets, touch-free water taps, and “in-rail” entertainment in the form of Bollywood films.
However, following its first run, reports have emerged of the trains being trashed by passengers.
Hindustan Times reported the trains came back with rubbish strewn on its floors, fewer headphones, and damaged infotainment screens.
A passenger who traveled aboard Tejas Express on the second day told the publication, “Toilets too were unclean. Attendants were ignorant. The food was not as good as during the inaugural run.”
A separate report on Deccan Chronicle described incidences of poor behavior and civic sense among passengers.
A passenger who traveled on the economic class carriage said, “Some of the passengers tried to remove the LCD screen by pulling on its hinges, probably wanting to take it home as it is easy to carry in one’s bag, but after a while, a railway official came and tightened the screws.”
A railway official has brushed off the reports as teething problems and that the cost of the headphones was “not very expensive”.
The official told Mumbai Mirror: “The headphones were distributed just after the journey commenced. There wasn’t an announcement to return the headphones because we expected passengers to not carry them away, just like they don’t take away pillows and blankets.
“These are teething troubles that will be sorted out within a few days. We need to celebrate a train that will eventually change the way India travels.”
An opinion piece on Firstpost argued the reports on misbehavior raise a question about whether Indians deserve high-quality facilities.