The railway ministry has given green signal to conduct a feasibility study for running the fully air-conditioned double-decker train between Indore and Surat.
The double-decker train, which currently runs between Indore and Bhopal and is incurring huge losses, was to be discontinued from August 13 but has been extended after Indore MP Sumitra Mahajan intervened and asked the railway ministry to explore alternative routes.
"The Railway Board has asked the Western Railways to conduct a feasibility study for running the double decker train between Indore and Surat. The Railway Board will consider the proposal when Western Railways submits its report," Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee member Nagesh Namjoshi told Hindustan Times.
The Indore-Bhopal double-decker, which has evoked a poor response due to high fare and odd timings, has got a new lease of life. However, sources in the railways say that the train has already incurred a loss of more than Rs. 3 crore since it was inaugurated 11 months ago, and so it is not feasible to run the train for a longer duration.
Lok Sabha Speaker and Member of Parliament from Indore, Sumitra Mahajan, recently met railways minister Sadananda Gowda and requested him to weigh possible options of running it on Indore-Surat route.
Namjoshi said that running the train between Indore-Baroda-Surat route might generate good revenue as businessmen frequently travel between the two cities.
Currently, the double-decker train operates with only three passenger coaches because of poor occupancy.
The AC double-decker train had teething troubles right from the time it was inaugurated.
Initially launched with 1,320 seats, the train managed to get barely 60-70 passengers daily. Due to poor response, 11 coaches were shifted on May 2 this year to Madgaon and the train was running with only three passenger coaches with capacity of 360 seats.
Low fare of luxury buses plying between Bhopal and Indore and their punctual timings and high frequency is considered as the main reason why the double decker failed to become a popular mode of transport between the two cities.
In May this year, member traffic of Railway Board Devi Prasad Pandey had indicated that Indore-Bhopal double decker train could be shelved. Then in June this year, official orders for winding up operations of Indore-Bhopal AC double-decker train were issued by the Railway Board. The fate of the train now depends on the commercial viability of Indore-Surat route.