The Indian Railways 12051 Jan Shatabdi, from Dadar Central in Mumbai to Madgaon in South Goa, is an express train with eight stops including Thivim in North Goa. It runs during the day and covers the distance in about nine hours. The train is quite punctual and clean. 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?
Carriage Types and Things to Consider
The Jan Shatabdi has two different types of carriages -- Air Conditioned Chair Class, and Second Class Sitting. 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 Chair Class, as well as the other trains to Goa, become "waitlisted". Hence, the Jan Shatabdi is a good option for those who haven't planned their travel far 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?
Differences Between Classes of Travel
The main differences between Second Class and Chair Class are that Second Class is not air conditioned and the seats 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 a number of 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.
As is to be expected, there's a significant difference in the ticket price between the two classes too. A one-way Second Class ticket cost 270 rupees, while it's 945 rupees in air-conditioned Chair Class.
How Will These Factors Affect your Experience?
Starting out, the journey in Second Class 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 feel restless sitting down after around the five-hour mark. When the train is full, the carriages do feel cramped. Plus, the non-reclining seats in Second Class are likely to give you a back and bum ache!
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 5.25 a.m. 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, travel in air conditioned Chair Class on the train. You'll have a much more pleasant trip!
The New Vistadome Carriage
A new Vistadome carriage was added to the Jan Shatabdi in September 2017. This carriage has been specially designed for viewing the scenery outside (the route is quite spectacular, with many bridges and tunnels) and has a glass roof, extra-large windows, and seats that rotate. Notably, it's the first of its kind in India. In addition, the carriage has only 40 seats, so it's much more spacious than ordinary carriages.
The Vistadome carriage runs daily except Wednesdays. However, during the monsoon season (from mid June to the end of October) this is reduced to three days a week -- Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Tickets for the Vistadome cost substantially more, and are priced at 2,025 rupees one-way. When booking online, it appears as Executive Class. Although it's not much cheaper than flying, the Vistadome has proven to be popular with tourists for the novelty factor.
Want to Travel on the Mumbai Goa Jan Shatabdi?
Find out more information in this Mumbai to Goa Train Guide. It lists alternative options too.