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Old 8th October 2021, 23:13   #1
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Default Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway

Introduction

This is my travel account of a recent 336 km train journey by arguably the most stylish low flying jet of Southern Railway - 02614 Madurai-Chennai Tejas Special. I’ve heard great things about this train, and after a brief trip to Trichy, suddenly got to book myself in this train impromptu just before the reservation chart was prepared.

I’ve travelled on the Trichy-Chennai sector by all modes –bullock cart meter gauge trains in the 80s and early 90s, broad gauge trains in the late 90s, slow TNSTC buses, superfast SETC buses, Volvos, Scanias, and what not, but this journey promised to be totally different. This train was real fast, Tejas coaches were feature rich and overall, the journey was memorable. Read on to savour the full report.

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Last edited by vigsom : 9th October 2021 at 00:00.
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Old 8th October 2021, 23:22   #2
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Default Re: Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway

What’s special about the Chennai - Madurai Tejas Express?

The Chennai Egmore – Madurai – Chennai Egmore Tejas Express, launched in early 2019, was the second of its kind in India, with the first being the Mumbai CST – Karmali Tejas Express. The Karmali Tejas Express was in the news for bad vandalism by unknown miscreants in the very first few days of its launch. The Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express did have its share of hiccups too with poor patronage due to the supposedly "high" fares, and an ongoing grudge among travellers to have this train stop at Tambaram. The train was also discontinued for a brief period post re-introduction after Unlock#1 due to poor patronage.

What makes the Chennai – Madurai Tejas Express special is a non-stop 336km run from Chennai Egmore to Tiruchchirapali Jn. (TPJ), also known as Trichy, in a shade under four hours – that is like at least 50 minutes lower than the next fastest train. Those who have travelled this sector will know that even the hottest train on this sector from the 80s, viz. Vaigai Express, would have stops in Tambaram, Chengalpattu Jn., Villupuram Jn. and Vridhachalam Jn. at the bare minimum. Stops like Ariyalur were added later. The Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express not just skips all these stations, but does more - it blasts through Chennai suburbs even faster than how the Mumbai Rajdhani navigates Mumbai suburbs.

How did I get to travel by the Tejas Express?

This is probably the first time in many years that I decided to just hop onto the next available train – and it all happened one afternoon when IRCTC showed CURR_AVBL zzz on the Tejas Express, and I just booked my ticket. This was the period between advance reservation and chart preparation, and I found that the fare displayed was INR645, lower than the normal INR710 shown under advance reservation. Ticket booked, bags packed, and I was ready to go.

Last edited by vigsom : 9th October 2021 at 00:01.
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Old 8th October 2021, 23:30   #3
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Default Re: Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway

Experiences at Tiruchchirapali Junction (TPJ)

The imposing main building at Tiruchchirapali Junction greeted me on arrival. This is a major division in the Southern Railway, and the station has been particularly good at upkeep over the many decades. There is an escalator from the underpass to platforms 2,3 and probably to other platforms as well. While at platform3, I got to see some improvements in the form of an under-construction escalator at every platform to a new Foot Overbridge. Dark clouds had gathered above, and the coach indicators on platforms 1,2 seemed to get brighter.

The main building at TPJ
Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway-tpj_mainbuilding_2.jpg
Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway-tpj_mainbuilding_1.jpg

Escalators at platforms - WIP
Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway-tpj_escalatorswip_1.jpg
Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway-tpj_escalatorswip_2.jpg
Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway-tpj_escalatorswip_3.jpg
Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway-tpj_escalatorswip_4.jpg

Neat stairway at PF#3
Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway-tpj_stairway.jpg

Locos cooling off
Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway-tpj_locos.jpg

Evening view of PF#1,2
Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway-tpj_eveningview.jpg

Arrival of the jet

I waited for the jet to arrive, and it did in all splendor. Unlike the Mumbai Rajdhani that I travelled in a couple of months ago where the doors opened only after the train stopped at the platform, the Tejas Express doors were already open
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Old 8th October 2021, 23:34   #4
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Default Re: Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway

First impressions of the Tejas Express

The train halted, and the Tejas style new grab rail, wide steps and a sliding door led us to the airconditioned cabin. Once inside, the excitement went u several notches on viewing how well appointed the cabin was. Once the train was on the move, I began exploring the coach and the various features

Likes

• Classy on the outside – resembles a royal train
• Blazingly fast train but one doesn’t feel the speed inside
• High quality leather seats offer good comfort
• Motor operated venetian blinds on all windows
• Reading lights for all seats
• Tray table opens out from the seat armrest like in some seats in an aircraft
• Air suspension makes the ride much much smoother
• The characteristic jerks in the LHB coaches during start up, braking and acceleration are all gone
• CCTV cameras
• Smoke detectors
• Fire detectors and alarms
• Bio-vacuum toilet
• Jaquar taps on the washbasins
• Neat washrooms with a mirror that has a touch sensor to activate a surround LED

Dislikes

• Entertainment screens were off
• Food service is low key, and on payment; its been like this since Unlock 1.0; tea, coffee, biriyani and Pongal was available
What’s missing
• No "in-built" dinner
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Old 8th October 2021, 23:48   #5
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Default Re: Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway

Small yet significant things in the Tejas AC Chair Car coaches

The cabin
Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway-tejascc_inside.jpg
Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway-tejascc_inside_2.jpg

The seats
Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway-tejascc_seatback.jpg
Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway-tejascc_entscreen.jpg
Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway-tejascc_seats.jpg

Tray table
Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway-tejascc_traytable.jpg

Charging sockets
Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway-tejascc_chargingsockets.jpg

Motor operated venetian blinds
Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway-tejascc_motoropvenetianblinds.jpg
Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway-tejascc_instructions.jpg

Reading lights
Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway-tejascc_readinglights.jpg

Trash can and Fire extinguisher
Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway-tejascc_trashcanfireextinguisher.jpg

Braille display
Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway-tejas_braille_sample.jpg

Washroom shots
Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway-tejaswashroom_dispenser.jpg
Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway-tejaswashroom_jaquar.jpg

Washroom mirror surround light off (note the touch sensor to switch the mirror light on)
Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway-tejaswashroom_mirrorlightoff.jpg

Washroom mirror surround light on
Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway-tejaswashroom_mirrorlighton.jpg

Last edited by vigsom : 9th October 2021 at 00:05.
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Old 8th October 2021, 23:53   #6
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Default Re: Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway

Experiencing the jet

Crossing the full Kaveri river and moving through some lush green surroundings were some of the pleasing-to-the-eye moments.


I got the impression that the train was coasting but after a while, I did realize that the train was actually going real fast -130kmph. The tracks have been done up, and clatter has been reduced to Nil. It was an unbelievable sight to see the train blast through a major junction, Vridhachalam at 130kmph.


The next surprises were in the form of skipping Vilupuram Jn., Chengalpattu Jn., and Tambaram. And then came the onslaught – flying through Chennai suburbs at 120kmph or thereabouts. Here’s what I’d timed:

Chrompet 2045hrs, Meenambakkam 2048hrs, Guindy 2051hrs, Kodambakkam 2055hrs.

Like an airplane landing, the jet reduced speed only on the short final viz. Chetpet, the station just before Chennai Egmore, and was finally at the destination 12 minutes ahead of schedule at 2102hrs. That was a journey time of 3 hours and 52 minutes.

Last edited by vigsom : 9th October 2021 at 00:08.
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Old 8th October 2021, 23:56   #7
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Default Re: Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway

Summing it up

Indian Railways have stepped the game up to achieve some unbelievable timings on many sectors. The Tejas Express is just one of the record holders; less than four hours for a 336km distance on a sector which once used to be a single line partially electrified section in which coaches used to shake like hell. The stations too stand out for their impeccable upkeep and the many conveniences that are being built in. Way to go, IR !!!
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Old 9th October 2021, 06:05   #8
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Default Re: Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 9th October 2021, 09:58   #9
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Default Re: Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway

Thanks for sharing your journey. Photos are excellent. I thought Vaigai and Nellai ruled this section. But looks like the new King is here.

Any chance of Thejas being introduced in Chennai - Coimbatore route? It will surely reduce the travel time to atleast 6 hours, if not lesser, from 8.5 hrs.
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Old 9th October 2021, 10:04   #10
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Default Re: Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway

The cleanliness of the station is really commendable.
Are they still providing headphones, I remember an incident when people left with headphones while alighting.
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Old 9th October 2021, 11:40   #11
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Default Re: Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway

Thanks for the write up. Any idea of the actual running time between MDU - TPJ please? Wanted to take the Tejas but somehow ended up driving a few times this year to Madurai. Have a couple of trips in the coming months planned and will definitely try the Tejas. Gotta convince the HM with your report ☺️
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Old 9th October 2021, 12:13   #12
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Default Re: Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway

I took a trip on Day 2 when the train was launched from Chennai to Kodai Road it was a great memorable trip. It is good to see that the upkeep and maintenance has been done well over the years. The entertainment screens used to work then and the food service was excellent. Have taken a couple of trips since then during the pre-pandemic times. In one of the trips, the number of times they served food seem so frequent that it felt like one was constantly eating all the way from Kodai road to Chennai hotstar.

Although the train does run some sections at the top speed of 130 kmph, it is nowhere near as fast as similar trains up north. The 336 km journey from Trichy is easily possible to do in about 3 hours if the train maintained a steady speed of at least 110 kmph. I know some sections need a slowdown due to track alignment and track work, however, a few bursts at 130 kph can make up for that. Because of intentional slowing down built into the schedule, the average speed actually drops to somewhere around 85 kmph. In fact all the trains in the Chennai-Tirunelveli section could be speeded up much more - it appears to me that certain lobbies are at work to keep the trains slow in the section and also not introduce enough trains at convenient times.

The number of fast day trains is artificially kept low in this section. Southern Railway could easily introduce a Shatabdi, a Durunto, and many other day trains but they have not done so. The sheer number of trains and the speed with which they travel in the Chennai-Coimbatore section is an order of magnitude higher than on the Chennai- Tirunelveli section, although the latter is an important corridor connecting the capital city with three of the biggest cities in the state - Trichy, Madurai and Tirunelveli. The TN government operates a very large bus service in this corridor and the buses simply cannot match the speed and convenience of the trains. There are also many private bus operators.Although the track has seen transformation, going from single line mixed electric/Diesel loco to fully double line electrified with high speed capability, the number trains, especially in the day time, has remained almost constant. No new Shatabdis, Jan Shatabdis, Suvidha expresses, Vande Bharat or other fast day trains have been introduced. The line exception is the Tejas express, and that too has not been extended to Tirunelveli, which is easily possible with speeding up the train to its full speed potential. A Durunto was introduced in a circuitous route from Trichy to Salem and then Chennai, but was soon cancelled citing poor.patronage. Did they expect people to grasp the nose with the arm around the back of the head?

Launching a comprehensive train schedule to fully utilise the double-line-electrified-traction in the Chennai - Tirunelveli route would cripple the bus operators and their revenues, and these forces will never let that happen So I have no hopes of a vibrant train service being launched in the route.We better be happy that the one Tejas express is here

Last edited by 84.monsoon : 9th October 2021 at 12:28.
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Old 9th October 2021, 12:13   #13
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Default Re: Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway

Quote:
Originally Posted by vigsom View Post
Introduction

This is my travel account of a recent 336 km train journey by arguably the most stylish low flying jet of Southern Railway - 02614 Madurai-Chennai Tejas Special.

Very nice post. Makes one want to drop everything and travel. Always a pleasure to read rail travelogues

Quote:
Originally Posted by vigsom View Post
• Entertainment screens were off
I wonder how many passengers will use the screens even if it were working ?! Everybody uses their phones for any entertainment. Instead of providing screens, IR should just replace it with a slot to place and view the phone, instead of hunching over it . And onboard wi-fi, of course.
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Old 9th October 2021, 12:20   #14
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Default Re: Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway

Thanks for sharing. Helpful information. Will definitely try next time. And yes, some of the major stations like Trichy & Coimbatore & Salem are well maintained with lifts and escalators being installed.


Quote:
Originally Posted by arunramaswamy View Post
Any chance of Thejas being introduced in Chennai - Coimbatore route? It will surely reduce the travel time to atleast 6 hours, if not lesser, from 8.5 hrs.
Definelty yes.
Also currently, Shatabdi does this in 7 hrs and Intercity in 7.5 hrs. So going by the average speed of 80-85, Tejas should do in 6 hrs.
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Old 9th October 2021, 13:43   #15
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Default Re: Madurai-Chennai Tejas Express | The Jet of Southern Railway

[quote=arunramaswamy;5169393]Thanks for sharing your journey. Photos are excellent. I thought Vaigai and Nellai ruled this section. But looks like the new King is here. [quote]

The domination of Vaigai and Nellai ended with the introduction of Tejas Express between Madurai and Chennai. And infact, this line also has the potential of introduction of a reverse Tejas in the same line just like Kozhikode Trivandrum reverse Jan Shatabdi.

Quote:
Any chance of Thejas being introduced in Chennai - Coimbatore route? It will surely reduce the travel time to atleast 6 hours, if not lesser, from 8.5 hrs.
This line already has a Shatabdi which does the distance in 7 hrs and 30 mins and is under utilised due to day time trains of Kovai and Cheran express. This Shatabdi also runs with current availability on most of the the days. I also had travelled once from salem to chennai in this train. The main disadvantage of this train is that it goes behind cheran express for most of the part of the journey and overtakes only after Vellore.
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