The Vande Bharat Train, known for its high speed and premium amenities, has garnered much admiration across India. Yet, its reception in the state of Rajasthan tells a different story. Locals seem to prefer other trains over the Vande Bharat despite its state-of-the-art offerings.
In Rajasthan, trains like the Double Decker, Shatabdi, and other superfast trains run at speeds comparable to that of Vande Bharat. The sticking point, however, is the cost. The fare for Vande Bharat is almost three times higher than its contemporaries. This might explain why, when given a choice, passengers tend to favor the Double Decker Superfast and Shatabdi Express over the Vande Bharat Express. In fact, recent data shows that only 41% of seats were occupied in the Vande Bharat Express on the Jodhpur to Ahmedabad route in September.
The central government and the railways had launched Vande Bharat trains across several states with the intent of showcasing a changing India, garnering praise for their initiative. Rajasthan saw the introduction of three Vande Bharat Express trains in quick succession. Despite these efforts, the train’s occupancy rates in the state leave much to be desired. For instance, while trains on the Ajmer to Delhi route and Udaipur to Jaipur route witnessed occupancy rates of 56.8% and 43% respectively, the Vande Bharat’s fare remains noticeably higher.
The Vande Bharat train, though it runs at a speed of 110 km/h, similar to the Double Decker and Shatabdi, comes at a cost that’s hard for many to justify. For a trip from Jaipur to Delhi, while a sleeper class ticket in other trains costs between 230 to 245 rupees, the fare for Vande Bharat stands at a steep 880 rupees.
It’s not that the trains are running full because of festival season, and other trains operated by the North Western Railway are fully booked, with waiting tickets available. Yet, Vande Bharat Express runs with many empty seats. The railways did seek feedback from passengers regarding the Vande Bharat Express, and the high fare emerged as a significant concern. Despite this, there hasn’t been any fare reduction.
Given the negligible difference in travel time and the significant fare disparity, it’s clear why passengers are gravitating towards the more economical Double Decker and Shatabdi Express trains. Both these alternatives and the Vande Bharat run at 110 km/h, but the cost factor plays a decisive role in passengers’ preferences.
In conclusion, while the Vande Bharat Express symbolizes modernity and the aspirations of a new India, it appears that a balance between cost and comfort is crucial to winning the hearts of travelers, especially in regions like Rajasthan.