Shatabdi trains are short-distanced, super-speed trains operated by Indian Railways. They travel between metro cities prominent for tourism, pilgrimage or business. They are like mini-version of Rajdhani trains offering similar services like free onboard meal, tea and coffee, better travel amenities and very few intermediate stoppages during journey.
‘Shatabdi’ means centenary in Sanskrit. Shatabdi trains were introduced in late 1988 to commemorate centenary of birthday of India’s first prime minister Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru. The very first Shatabdi to travel was between New Delhi and Bhopal which is also the fastest Shatabdi train with a speed of over 150km/hr. Overall it’s the second fastest train India only behind Gatiman Express which travels between New Delhi and Agra Fort. Among all trains operated in India, Shatabdi and Rajdhani are the most prestigious and attractive looking trains. In terms of priority, Shatabdi gets second highest after Rajdhani on the Indian railway network. They usually have no or very little travel delays. Also most railway stations give Shatabdi trains priority in arrival at better platforms, like ones located close to the exit or waiting rooms or station building.
Shatabdi trains travel during daytime and return to starting station within 12 hours i.e. it completes to-and-fro journey on the same day. These trains don’t have berths for sleeping, rather they only have AC and non-AC seating compartments with comfortable seats with wider leg-room. Passengers are provided optional tea/coffee/juice along with meal – breakfast and lunch.
Shatabdi trains were started with an objective to provide better connectivity among Indian cities and to have service-oriented trains in Indian Railways where travelers can enjoy better on-board facilities. Since its inception, several improvements were done in Shatabdi trains including free Wi-Fi and highly advanced entertainment systems for better experience to travelers during journey. Berth in Shatabdi trains is booked in advance and they don’t have unreserved berths like other Indian trains have. Booking can be done online on irctc.co.in or offline from reservation counters at railway stations. Shatabdi trains between stations can be searched on searchmytrain.com.
Currently 48(or 24 pair) of Shatabdi trains are in operation. They are usually preferred for travel by upper-middle class individuals who can afford marginally higher priced tickets. Covering 705km of distance New Delhi-Habibganj is the longest Shatabdi train while Jaipur-Agra Fort and New Delhi-Chandigarh is the shortest Shatabdi with route of 245 kilometers.
Since the ticket price of Shatabdi train is on the higher end, Indian Railways introduced a much affordable version called Jan Shatabdi trains which has all non-AC and general coaches. Shatabdi trains also have another variant called Swarn Shatabdi which is more luxurious.