Trains faster than Rajdhani but sans flexi-fare on cards
The Railways will launch India’s fastest long-distance premium Express train before Diwali. It will be faster than the Rajdhanis and Durontos, will have just one stoppage and will be without the controversial flexi-fare system.
The first such train, whose name will be decided shortly, will be run between New Delhi and Mumbai on a trial basis with only a single stoppage at Ratlam. The existing Mumbai Rajdhani and August Kranti trains have seven and six stoppages en route respectively, while Duronto has four.
The Railway Board has given its approval to the train. An announcement in this regard will be made before Diwali and the services will be expanded to important destinations gradually. The train will operate with 18 coaches between Hazrat Nizamuddin station and Bandra Terminus (BDTS) stations and the most special feature for making it faster is that it will be pulled by two locomotives at a maximum speed of 130 kmph against the existing average of 80 kmph.
“The train will depart from Nizamuddin at 4.25 pm to reach Bandra Terminus at 6.10 am to complete the distance of 1,365 km in 13 hours and 45 minutes. The existing August Kranti Rajdhani takes 17 hours and the Mumbai Rajdhani takes 15 hours 30 minutes at an average speed of 90 kmph.
The train will run on Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches,” said a senior railway official.
According to Railways’ technical experts, designed to run on 150 kmph the LHB coaches are of a superior design that reduce the chance of derailment and mitigates the possibility of grievous injury or death in case of accidents. These coaches have anti-climbing features and provision of superior braking.
When asked the need for the third Rajdhani-type train between the two destinations, the official indicated that similar services will be expanded between other important destinations gradually given the competition railways if facing from aviation sector.
“This new pair of train will provide succor to the passengers hit by dynamic fare system. Railways is in a catch 22 situation as the flexi scheme has augmented the passengers revenue by Rs 550 crore in a year but at the same time has been facing criticism from passengers. While the authorities are working on to review the flexi fare which would take some time, we are expecting that the new train with the normal fare slab would be an answer,” added the official.
During the festive season, while most of the trains go jam-packed, seats have been going vacant in premium trains due to the flexi fare scheme. According to figures, there are no takers for as much as 15 per cent of seats of total occupancy in trains such as Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto Express. The passengers are giving preference to budget airlines, as some tickets are cheaper in comparison to flexi fares.
For instance, the Mumbai-New Delhi Rajdhani Express has been running with vacant seats and the matter was discussed in the Board meeting with the Commercial Department following Rail Minister Piyush Goyal’s announcement regarding review of the dynamic fare scheme last month. The flexi fare scheme came into effect on September 9, 2016 wherein only the first 10 per cent of the seats were booked at the regular fare. Thereafter, the fare increases by 10 per cent with every 10 per cent of the seats booked.
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