Talking Travel with Satya Dixit
Tourism has come a long way in India in the last couple of decades. Destinations far and and wide have become easily accessible and people are now able to reach the remotest of places. While travel in general has become cheaper and accessible to all, I think the most remarkable transformation in Indian tourism has been fueled by an immense development of the Indian Railways.
Historically, Railways have touched the lives and hearts of many Indians. It represents a side of the country that is authentic and distinctive. As Agatha Christie rightly said –
Trains are wonderful! To travel by train is to see nature and human beings, towns, and rivers; in fact, to see life.Agatha Christie
In this article, we cover a unique perspective of travelling, one which is devoid of the scramble in airports and traffic jams on highways. We look at travelling far and wide with the Indian Railways! India today has the fourth largest railway network in the world. Traversing across deserts, mountains, plains, rivers and cities, the railways have a unique identity globally. Not only is it home to one of the longest running route (The Vivek Express running from Kanyakumari to Dibrugarh covers a staggering 4154 km), and the largest route relay interlocking system in the world (New Delhi main station is registered in the Guinness Book of World Records for this very reason), but Indian Railways also provide connections in some of the most desolate and harsh environments in all nooks and corners of the country.
Today, we talk to Satya Dixit. Satya is a long time rail fanatic and influencer who travels extensively on Indian rails and shares his experiences through hypnagogic videos on social media. Through his YouTube channel ‘Indian Railways Fan Club – By Satya‘, he showcases his travels to more than 800k followers. Satya has shared more than 1,300 videos with more than 230 million views overall!
- How did your affair with the railways start?
- How did you move to YouTube full time?
- What do you try to highlight the most in your journeys?
- Which are some of the most unique journeys you have undertaken?
- How do you think the railways in India have evolved the last couple years?
- Which are the places and journeys still on your bucket list?
- Lastly, what are the changes you would like to see in Indian Railways?
How did your affair with the railways start?
I remember being awed by trains even as a kid. Travelling was always a part of my life, in one way or the other. When I graduated and started preparing for Defense, I needed to travel far and wide for preparations and interviews. While travelling, I used to make train videos for fun and upload them on YouTube.
Out of the blues, one of those videos really took off. Thereafter, I started getting pretty consistent viewership online. Unknowingly, my YouTube career had started!
How did you move to YouTube full time?
Like I said, I always had passion for trains. Fortunately, my trains-related videos on YouTube were also getting decent traction. It was always on my mind to convert my passion into something more serious. When I was preparing for Defense selection, I met with a grave foot injury just a couple days prior to the interview. Being injured, my defense chances were pretty much scrambled. However, by then, I had enough revenue coming in from YouTube. Call it by accident (figuratively, and literally), I came to be a full-time YouTuber!
I used to upload casual videos on YouTube since as long as 2011. It was only after my injury in 2018 that I started pursuing it full fledge! I think, one way or the other, your passion does become your career if you give it a chance. And once you do, there is no looking back! If you love what you do, you won’t be bored and you will always have the hunger to do more. I recall my several long arduous train journeys that I took to make sure that I get quality content. I have travelled to distant parts of the country in scorching heat and pouring rain to make sure I reach the right place to take a ride on the right train!
What do you try to highlight the most in your journeys?
I have taken a variety of train rides. Being on budget, luxury, unique trains and ones where I specifically reviewed the food, I have experienced the whole shebang! I have always strived to create a travelogue that portrays positivity and exclusivity of Indian Railways, more on that later. Fundamentally, I always try to highlight the unique aspects of journeys which would make Indians proud of their railways and people outside India want to visit it! As influencers, we carry a responsibility – we can either showcase the positive and unique aspects of the things we review, or focus on the downsides. I prefer the former!
Which are some of the most unique journeys you have undertaken?
I try to showcase the assortment of journeys presented by Indian Railways. I have travelled on the smallest running train in India – one which travels from Ait to Konch in Uttar Pradesh. Having crossed the Pamban bridge on the Boat Mail Express and sat in the unique double decker train – the fastest one of its kind in India running between Vadodara and Mumbai, I have been a part of a multitude of adventures! I have also have been to the Pakistan border, amongst a couple of my other feats! And all of these, in their own ways, have been special and perhaps, my favorites too!
I also try to cover the cultural and historical importance of the places I visit. For any traveller, whether he/she is a railway fanatic or not, knowing more about different places that Indian Railways operate to is interesting. Hence, I always try to connect with the viewers on this aspect.
How do you think the railways in India have evolved the last couple years?
Indian Railways have improved tremendously in the past few years. Indian railway network reaches far more places now. The basic amenities provided in railways are also improving day by day. Food and water provision has become more dependable and hygienic, though they still have some distance to go. Various companies provide food-on-delivery services in trains and different main stations, thereby, giving quality food choices to travellers.
Another important observation is the standard of travelling itself. In recent times, many premium train services like Vande Bharat, Tejas Express have ameliorated their services. These trains have more modern air-conditioned compartments and provide good comfort and luxury on the tracks.
With time, Indian Railways has been evolving leaps and bounds in terms of technology as well. Diesel engines are gradually becoming obsolete, and electric ones are replacing them. Even though every traditional rail fanatic would love the feel and sound of a diesel engine, replacing them is certainly a push in the right direction considering the carbon footprint of the rail network.
Which are the places and journeys still on your bucket list?
I enjoy travelling to places rich in natural beauty and have been to almost all states in India except a couple of North-eastern states, which I will cover soon! Just recently, I booked a ticket for a unique train journey to the northeast India, so watch out for that! I shall be travelling on the Vivek Express from Kanyakumari to Dibrugarh.
In general, I love to trek and enjoy the solitude of nature, as most people do. When I show journeys on how to reach such unique places, the videos often reverberate with the viewers. For example, travelling on the Goa Express in the monsoon and getting a chance to visit Doodhsagar waterfalls was a surreal experience for me, and one I cherish a lot!
Indian Railways are scintillating in terms of connectivity and the unmatched experience that one gets traversing different parts of the country!– Satya Dixit (@thetrainguru)
Lastly, what are the changes you would like to see in Indian Railways?
I certainly believe the railways are improving a lot. It has become a better product than it was a couple years ago. However, I would still love to see better customer service and hygienic food provisions on-board. Facilities need to improve alongside the reach of railway network. Today, the state of few stations and waiting rooms is quite dismal. If the network is reaching more people, the railway infrastructure should also improve in handling the added capacity.
I would like to see a world where people eagerly visit stations for their food and facilities. I envisage a rail network in India which is not only well connected, but equally well maintained! Indian Railways are scintillating in terms of the experience that one gets traversing different parts of the country. I would certainly encourage more travellers to experience this bounty!
For more such interviews, check ‘How travelling solo makes you a badass – talking travel with Udit Khurana’