Now, 20 Hostesses will keep Travellers on Gatimaan Express Comfy

In her crisp, blue uniform, Divya could easily be mistaken for a flight attendant. She walks down the aisle, greets all passengers, hands each one a rose and face wipes, and asks them their meal preference. Divya is one of 20 staffers - half of them women - aboard the Delhi-Agra Gatimaan Express hired exclusively to work as train hostesses and stewards.

The train, the fastest in India running at 165 kmph that was launched in April, is the only railway service to have hostesses and stewards.

From serving food to providing newspapers and magazines, these staffers assist passengers in all possible ways. They are well versed with both English and Hindi, are accompanied by four housekeeping staffers and monitored by two managers. "It is a completely new experience," says Divya, a Delhi resident who graduated from the Indian Institute of Hospitality Management. "Serving passengers this way inside a train was never heard of before. The experience has been good so far," Divya.

The hostesses' monthly pay ranges from Rs 16,000-18,000. The contract for hiring hostesses and stewards has been given to snacks and sweets manufacturer Haldiram Foods.

Despite the number of amenities offered - TV sets in the executive chair and WiFi - and reasonable fares, Gatimaan Express hasn't found many takers yet. During weekdays, 70 per cent of the seats is vacant. Weekends are fairly better, with only 20 percent vacancy. The train has two classes - eight chair cars with 78 seats in each and two executive coaches with 56 seats in each. The tariff for a chair car seat is R755 and R1,500 for an executive seat. Passengers mainly comprise foreign tourists.


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