My first experience on the Vande Bharat Express: Service, food & more

The way it picks up speed is nothing short of amazing and now the signature clack-clack sound of the tracks is almost unnoticeable. Horizontal shake has also greatly reduced.

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My experience with the Vande Bharat Express.


  • Feels modern and brand new inside out.
  • Some well thought out features and attention to detail.
  • Wide and comfortable seats.
  • Much lower NVH and a smoother ride.
  • Very spacious coach layout.


  • Only one WC per coach.
  • Train is futuristic but staff is stuck in time.
  • Overhead racks mean carrying large and heavy luggage can be an issue.
  • No halt at any suburban Mumbai stations.
  • Still doesn't run at its top speed (for now) making the high speed capabilities useless.

About the 20902 GNC-MMCT Vande Bharat Express:

The Gandhinagar Capital- Mumbai Central Vande Bharat was launched on September 30th and I remember the kind of fanfare it enjoyed (and continues to) when it came out and it was a very refreshing change to see. Having seen these coaches for a couple of times, I yearned to travel in them soon if only for the high ticket prices and no time to spare from my very busy schedule. So finally when I got the opportunity, I immediately booked a seat on it from BRC to MMCT this month and was delighted to see the now digestible prices as well. I'll try to do justice to it.

The journey:

This time around, it being a solo trip I decided to opt for the CC coaches. Do note that there is an EC coach as well in this train but the differences aren't that significant. It's just a 2x2 layout instead of 3x2 in CC with mildly better seats which can be rotated by upto 180 degrees. With the CC seats being awesome as it is, I don't see much value addition in the latter either.

The scheduled arrival of the train at BRC is 15:56 and while the train was a few minutes late, I have to admit I haven't seen such a stir among fellow travellers till now. Everybody was in the awe of the "bullet train" (I know it isn't one) and it enjoyed sort of a celebrity status with everybody clicking pics and videos(some even selfies with it!). Take into mind that the this wasn't the first week of the train running but a good 3 months after its inaugural run.

Soon, it came to a silent stop and the doors opened to reveal a very airy, non-Indian Railways feeling lobby. As you climb inside you notice it's no longer an uphill trek onto it. Inside, as I got settled onto my seat I could take a much closer look as it was astonishing. It still took me a few minutes to understand this was still India!

Soon enough, the train started rolling and the silence and effortlessness was mind-blowing. The way it picks up speed is nothing short of amazing and now the signature clack-clack sound of the tracks is almost unnoticeable. Horizontal shake has also greatly reduced compared to LHB coaches and you really don't notice the speeds the train is doing.

Another observation of mine were the seats. Greatly improved from ones in LHB rakes, they are now wider, have a taller backrest, great legroom, have much better and compliant cushioning and most importantly- existent thigh support! The bright blue fabric also does not feel too harsh on your skin and gives a fresh look to the interiors. Interestingly, the armrests also have padding. Note: the seat numbers with Braille embossing and ergonomically placed handles for the standees. There was also one USB port and one plug point per passenger placed under the seat.

As you move further back the coach you'll notice that the last 3 or so rows have been removed freeing up acres of space! I'm not sure if it was just on this C1 coach but there's also a single seat there for handicapped people. This area makes a perfect place to stand away for taking calls, stretching your legs etc. although I do wish a luggage rack of sorts (a là Vistadome coach) was integrated here for the heavier stuff.

Press the button and the door to the lobby opens electronically(pointless without motion sensors) and you are greeted to a very clean, minimalistic and spacious lobby. Two jump seats are also given for whatever reasons.

To enter the WC area there is another button you have to push and the door slides open automatically and there's a well-lit and fancy area to do your business in. The fittings are luxurious and there's no reason to feel claustrophobic either. A very important touch to the train is that moving in between coaches isn't the near-death like experience it used to feel like before with all the loud noises and incessant shaking with an flimsy looking connector. Have a look for yourself:

Food and service:

As part of the catering, snacks and tea were served first to everybody. After waiting for what seemed like eternity for my portion to arrive, I had to call upon the staff who conveniently "forgot" to serve it to me. The entire attitude overall was quite apathetic, a stark contrast to what I experienced earlier this year in the Tejas Express. I guess IRCTC has shifted focus away from IR run trains.

Anyways here is the what I got. Nothing fancy and the quantity was quite less as well. Lesson learnt: Bring your own food next time onwards:

Dinner wasn't anything great either and a contradiction to the king sized meals one used to get on Shatabdis pre-covid. Service otherwise too was not to be boasted about. While the train was quite clean overall, there was a lack of empathy as a whole with staff onboard- stuff you thought was behind you by 2022.

The train faced a major blockage just before Surat but made good time afterwards and managed to reduce the delay from an hour to 20 minutes while we reached the destination. No stops until MMCT meant a Mumbai local ride was in the offing. Truly an authentic Mumbaikar experience! But that story is for another time.

For now, it was time to bid goodbye to the Vande Bharat. I enjoyed the experience barring the poor service quality and typically ignorant and loud co-passengers but hey, it wasn't the trains fault! I absolutely loved this journey and look forward to traveling on this train again. As I've mentioned elsewhere, I'm really proud of the direction our railways are heading in and wish them the best of luck.

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