What does it feel like to travel on the Vande Bharat Express from Bengaluru to Chennai?

Read to know the features of the train and what the commuters had to say about the train and their journey.

ByDeeksha Devadiga

Published Nov 28, 2022 | 9:00 AM Updated Dec 31, 2022 | 5:54 PM

What does it feel like to travel on the Vande Bharat Express from Bengaluru to Chennai?

If you are planning to travel on the new Vande Bharat train between Mysuru and Chennai, this article is for you. Friendly advice: Pack snacks.

A week after the flagship Vande Bharat Express’s debut in South India, I made the journey from Bengaluru to Chennai on the semi-high-speed train to gain a first-hand travel experience.

I booked the tickets online, using the IRCTC website, which crashed and closed twice on me during the payment process. My booking was confirmed from KSR Bengaluru City junction to Chennai Central.

I paid a total of ₹963.95, which included my catering fee and GST. Commuters have the option to choose from vegetarian and non-vegetarian food.

I had heard and seen good things about the hospitality and the catering on other Vande Bharat trains. A video showed passengers being welcomed with a rose on entering the train. I love roses.

The journey

The train arrived on the platform at 3.15 and left KSR Junction at 3.20 pm.
(Deeksha Devadiga/South First)

On the day of my journey, I reached KSR Junction half an hour before the train was scheduled to arrive.

When I arrived on platform No 7, it was packed with passengers waiting for the train to arrive. I was not expecting to see so many commuters.

The display on the platform showed the train would arrive at 2.55 pm, only to change it to 3.00 pm the next minute.

Every five minutes the display would add five minutes to the arrival time.

The train finally arrived at 3.15 pm. The week-old train had a big crack in one of the coach windows.

One of the coach had a window which was cracked. (Deeksha Devadiga /South First)

The train has 16 coaches of which only two are for the Executive Chair Car.

The right way to experience a train journey is to meet new people and make memories.

Besides, my job also entails talking to people about their experience on the new train, so I booked an AC Chair Car for my journey.

The seats of the AC Chair Car are recliners. For the 360-degree rotating seats, you need to book an executive chair car.

The train departed from KSR Junction at 3.20 pm. Once you find your seat, you can place your luggage above your seat. Right in front of your seats attached is the holder where you can keep your small bags or laptops.

The rose never came. It’s okay. I am fine.

The features 

The first thing I noticed was there were no sockets for charging. Even other passengers were looking for a place to charge their devices.

Not my co-passenger, though. The sweetest lady, she looked at me said, “The seats don’t rotate.” I thought to myself: “It’s okay. I’ll just enjoy the journey with a low battery on my phone.”

Finally, someone in the coach, shouted, “It’s under your seats.” A combined sigh of relief was heard through the coach from all the office-goers (and me), who took their laptops out.

The sockets are placed in such a way that is not visible unless you bend and look under your seat.

The chargers are placed under the seats. (Deeksha Devadiga/South First)

I would like to personally talk to the one who thought of it. My weak arms and that stubborn three-pin socket did not gel.

I had to go down on my knees and use both my hands to plug my charger in, only for it to pop right out the next second. I succeeded on subsequent tries.

Once everyone figured out the charging situation, the next important thing was Wi-Fi.

I accessed the on-demand Wi-Fi connectivity-enabled infotainment system on my laptop. They had some selected videos and movies to offer, including one on the history of railways and videos of the prime minister inaugurating a few government schemes.

They had some selected videos and movies to offer on infotainment. (Deeksha Devadiga/Screengrab)

The Wi-Fi doesn’t support any browser other than the one in which it opens. The library had one old black-and-white film and a few kids’ films.

I did not find a single passenger who chose to watch any of the films. Everyone, including me, switched back to mobile data.

Every coach has a 32-inch LCD screen that provides travel information, including the arrival timings of the next destination.

It also plays videos of the prime minister inaugurating the train in various states. But that’s all it plays, so it’s clearly not for entertainment.

The screen is placed at both ends of the coach in a corner. It is only visible to those who are sitting towards the aisle.

My co-passenger did not know they were there until we were four hours into the journey, and only after I pointed it out to her.

The first impressions

The onboard staff did not bring any flowers, but they did bring a bottle of water. The bottle can be placed in a holder provided to you near your feet.

There is leg room and foot holders, which are generally comfortable, but not if you are someone with long legs or considerable height.

Many regular commuters of Shatabdi were making their first journey using the Vande Bharat train.

Nazneen Jamal, a social activist and homemaker, told South First she remembered travelling by Shatabdi back in her college days.

“I always travel on Shatabdi. I was amused when they said the seats on VB rotate, but they are not rotating here. Shatabdi is always on time. This came 20 minutes late,” she pointed out.

She was travelling along with her brother Baseer, who owns a fire and security company and had only good things to say about the train.

“The train is very clean, and has nice amenities. The good thing is it leaves earlier than Shatabdi and reaches earlier,” he said.

The toilet facilities

I have always preferred travelling by train over the bus for long journeys. One reason is I have motion sickness (not important). The second is toilets on board (definitely important): In trains, they always smell bad.

Like any other regular train, Vande Bharat also had both Western and Indian toilet options.

Both Western and Indian bathroom options are available. (Deeksha Devadiga/South First)

When I opened the door to an Indian toilet, it was already flooding.

I went to the other end of the coach. The toilets were cleaner on this side of the coach and did not have any bad smell.

The Western toilets have toilet seat papers. Soap dispensers are installed in all bathrooms, along with a hand-dryer system.

The taps were a bit hard to figure out, but I managed in the end.

When I came back to my seat, I saw the onboard staff struggling to clean the flooding in the aforementioned toilet. At least they were quick on their toes to maintain hygiene on the train.

Catering services

Nazneen told me Shatabdi would serve cakes along with tea for snacks and the food menu she described got me drooling.

Now, you see, I went on this journey on an empty stomach, expecting some good food. And I was not alone: My fellow passengers were also eager to try the food on the train.

And when the onboard staff started preparing the food, delicious aromas wafted into the coach.

What came to us was one samosa (sorry, a mini samosa), a square-shaped sweet masquerading as a soan papdi, a sachet of ketchup, and a packet to make tea, which you can exchange for coffee as per your preference. A cup of hot water is provided for the tea/coffee powder.

Snacks provided include a samosa, Ketchup sachet, a sweet and tea/coffee. (Deeksha Devadiga/South First)

I did not expect to get one samosa and a sweet for the full ticket amount I paid.

If you wish to eat one more samosa or sweet, you have to pay the onboard staff some extra money.

Only if you are travelling from the Mysuru leg of the journey is lunch served to you.

Given the current timings of the train, passengers travelling on the second leg of the journey from Bengaluru to Chennai will never get lunch. Sigh!

Unclear instructions

So with a half-empty stomach, I interacted with another co-passenger, Divakar NR, a banker in Chennai who travels almost every week to visit his family in Bengaluru.

“There isn’t much of a difference in both the trains,” he said, comparing the Vande Bharat to the Shatabdi.

“it is always good to have one more alternative for the demand there is. The ambience and hospitality are better in VB because it is a new train and only time will tell how it ages.”

Sitting beside him was a senior citizen who was struggling with the reading lights above their seat. The lights can be operated with just one touch: One touch and it lights up and with another touch, it goes off.

But R Shridhar’s reading lights were not going off despite multiple attempts by him. He gave up on them.

Speaking to South First, he said, “The directions are very unclear in this train, I wasn’t aware of the charger until you mentioned it to me. There have to be some directions provided since the features are new and we are new to the train.”

I had a main-character moment when I turned off his reading lights with just one touch.

The halts

Announcements in the train are done in four languages. (Deeksha Devadiga/South First)

The announcement lady announced the arrival of our next halt, which was Katpadi junction.

Announcements of the next stations happen in four languages: English, Hindi, Kannada, and Tamil.

Katpadi Junction, near Vellore, is the only place where the Vande Bharat stops during its journey from Bengaluru to Chennai.

After stopping at Katpadi for just four minutes, the train resumed its journey toward Chennai.

It picked up speed and breezed past historic towns such as Thiruvalam, Sholinghur, and Mahendravadi.

Fun Fact: Mahendravadi is named after the Pallava ruler Mahendravarman (late sixth century-early seventh CE).


The train arrived at Chennai Central 10 minutes later than scheduled. The Ministry of Railway says it is still conducting trials to enhance the speed of the train. But for now, it is still the slowest Vande Bharat train in India.

When I got down at Chennai Central, local passengers and commuters were clicking pictures and videos of the train.

The Vande Bharat train is a sight to behold and an experience one should have.

I had never been to Chennai before, and neither had cold winds apparently.

The day I went there, Chennai experienced its coldest day in 20 years. Coincidence? I think not.

Later, I had Italian at a local restaurant in Chennai and took another train back home to Bengaluru: A sleeper this time.

That was my and a few fellow passengers’ experience of the new Vande Bharat train.

Watch the video for a visual experience of my journey. Until next time, bye!