With views of waterways shaded by swaying palms and rolling banks of forested hills, the rail journey from Mumbai to Goa is widely celebrated as one of the most scenic train rides in India. What could make it better? Why, glass-roofed carriages, of course.
As of 18 September, the Jan Shatabdi Express from Dadar to Madgaon includes a deluxe Vistadome carriage, offering passengers supersized windows, a see-through canopy roof, and seats that can be rotated 360 degrees to face the view. There are just 40 seats on the luxe carriage - the first of its kind in India - and the train will run three times-a-week during the monsoon, and five days-a-week after the end of the rains.
While many trains in India pass through spectacular landscapes, one ongoing complaint of passengers is the poor visibility through the windows of Indian train carriages, which frequently feature scratched and dirty glass and shutters that are stuck half-closed, obscuring the views. The problem is worse for first and air-conditioned sleeper class passengers than for standard-class passengers, who have the luxury of being able to open the windows completely to admire the scenery. Predictably, travellers on the new Vistadome services will pay a premium for the improved views, but not significantly more than an upper class fare.
Crossing 2000 bridges and ducking through 92 tunnels, the Mumbai-Goa trip is just one of many spectacular train routes in the Indian south. In the same area, the Goa Express from Vasco Da Gama to Londa passes right in front of the thundering Dudhsagar Waterfall, which literally sprays the carriages with water during the wet monsoon months.