Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Shatabdi Express: Ripoff or Payoff?

This weekend i went to Calcutta and on the train, as i had nothing better to do, i stated doing some mental gymnastics. The fact was that i was going to Calcutta in the 2020 Ranchi-Howrah Shatabdi Express. Now Shatabdi's are supposed to be the fastest trains in India travelling at 100 km per hour and above. But somehow my mental arithmetic did not gel. Consider this:

2020 Ranchi Howrah Shatabdi Express leaves Ranchi railway station at 13:45 hours and reaches Howrah station at 21:10 hours. The total distance between Ranchi and Howrah is (as per the printed ticket) is 427 km. That means that in 7 hours 25 minutes (or in 7x60 + 25 = 445 minutes) the Shatabdi Express covers a distance of 427 km. That simply gives the speed of Shatabdi Express as 57.57 Km per hour.

Now i returned by the 8615 Howrah Hatia Express. This train leaves Howrah at 22:05 hours and reaches Ranchi at 06:25 hours. The distance covered by the 8615 Howrah Hatia Express is 420 km. That means that in 8 hours 20 minutes (or in 8x60 + 20 = 500 minutes) the Howrah Hatia Express covers a distance of 420 km. This gives me the speed of this train as 50.40 Km per hour.

Now comes the rip-off. The percentage increase in speed while travelling with Shatabdi is 14.23% whereas the charges in fare are 24.04% greater in Shatabdi. Agreed that in Shatabdi food is served and for that the railways can chage extra - but the promised speed does not materialise. I would have expected that the paltry distance between Howrah and Ranchi would be covered in 5 hours (max) by shatabdi. But no; it seems like we pay a lot more that what we actually expect.

I would be happy to know if this is generally the case with all shatabdi's or that this is pertinent only to this part of the country


  1. Anonymous8:28 AM

    That is the case with some Shatabdi trains but not all. However, your assumption that Shatabdi or Rajdhani trains are supposed to travel at speeds of 100 kms/hour is both right & wrong at the same time. The trains, at some stage of their trip do touch speeds of 140 kms/hours but their average speed for the entire duration of the trip ranges from around 88 kms/hour to what you have calculated. The Bhopal Shatabdi is the fastest covering around 700kms in just under 8 hours. The Amritsar Shatabdis' are fast too.

  2. Well Rohit, I am all with you. I hope one day we can cover the distance between Ranchi and Howrah in round about 4 hours max. Its been more than 60 years since we got independence, but we still don't have trains with average speeds of 100 kmph. For all the talk of India getting developed by 2020!!

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  4. Hi Rohit, the calculation what u hav made is right but u hav derived the average speed that the train takes to travel a perticular distance. The total time taken might be more bec of repair and maintanence work of track and long haults in few stations. But Shatabdi travels at a speed of over 130kmph at few places and some places at lower speed bec of ups and downs in few areas
    This is Ravi Rao from Surathkal/Mangalore