The 2051 Jan Shatabdi, from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai to Madgaon in south Goa, is an express train with few stops. It runs during the day and covers the distance in nine hours. However, unlike normal Shatabdi trains, which come with a number of "luxury" perks, the Jan Shatabdi is a "people's" train. So, what's this mean and what's the train like?
The Jan Shatabdi has two different types of carriages -- first class air conditioned, and second class non air conditioned. Both require reservations, and both only have chairs (no sleepers).
You'll find that there are always plenty of seats available in second class long after first class, as well as all the other trains to Goa, become waitlisted. Hence, the Jan Shatabdi is a good option for those who haven't planned their travel long in advance.
However, the lack of demand for seats in second class on the Jan Shatabdi leaves many people feeling a bit concerned. Is it really an uncomfortable way to travel?
I've traveled on the Jan Shatabdi a number of times, both in first and second class. The main difference between the two classes, apart from lack of air conditioning, is that the seats in second class don't recline. You can see what the second class carriage in the Mumbai Goa Jan Shatabdi looks like in the above photo.
Another thing to consider is the pollution that fills the second class carriages. The Jan Shatabdi is a diesel train and there are around seven tunnels on the Konkan Railway route (some of them are kilometers long). As the windows in second class are open, the fumes readily come in through them when the train goes through the tunnels.
So, how will these factors affect your trip?
Starting out, the journey isn't too bad, particularly if the train is yet to get crowded. The diesel fumes coming into the carriage weren't as bad as I expected. I was envisaging black fume clouds! In reality, I've been blasted with worse fumes from vehicles in Mumbai, while sitting in an auto rickshaw. Yet, that said, the fumes did start becoming uncomfortable after a while. My eyes ended up burning and breathing was unpleasant. The good thing is that the fumes do clear out of the carriage fairly quickly once the train has left the tunnel.
I began to become restless sitting down after around the five hour mark. When the train is full, the carriages do feel cramped. Plus, the non-reclining seats are likely to give you a back and bum ache!
The verdict?I'd avoid traveling second class in the Jan Shatabdi from Mumbai to Goa, although the opposite direction from Goa to Mumbai is doable. The reason why is the departure times. The train has a very early morning departure from Mumbai. If you're tired, you'll really regret not being able to lay down to sleep. It's quite an ordeal having to sit upright for nine to ten hours. However, heading to Mumbai, the train departs Goa in the afternoon and it's not as bad if you're feeling rested.
If you can though, try and travel in first class on the train.
Want to travel on the Mumbai Goa Jan Shatabdi?
Find out more about departure time and fares in this Mumbai to Goa train guide. Or, discover alternative options in the article too.