India’s first semi-high speed train, running at a speed of 160 kmph, was introduced on the Indian Railways system from April 5. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu flagged off the Gatimaan Express, which will run between Hazrat Nizamuddin and Agra Cantonment stations. The launch of this train heralds a new era of high-speed rail travel in India.
Watch | India’s fastest train ‘Gatimaan Express’ flagged off
1. The Gatimaan Express is here, and it seems to be making a symbolic statement about the Railways finally picking up pace in India’s transportation scenario. The train hits a top speed of 160 kmph, easily beating the Bhopal Shatabdi – India’s fastest train thus far at 150 kmph. Gatimaan covers the 184-kilometre distance between New Delhi and Agra in 100 minutes, as opposed to 110 minutes by the Bhopal Shatabdi.
2. Gatimaan will operate on all days of the week except Friday, departing from Hazrat Nizamuddin at 8.10 am to reach Agra at 9.50 am. On its return journey, the train will depart from Agra at 5.50 pm to reach New Delhi at 7.30 pm.
3. The AC chair car fare of Gatimaan for travelling from New Delhi to Agra has been fixed at Rs 750, as opposed to Bhopal Shatabdi’s fare of Rs 515 in this category. The executive class fare of Gatimaan has been fixed at Rs 1,500, compared to the Bhopal Shatabdi’s fare of Rs 1,010.
4. The train features 12 coaches – comprising two executive class compartments, eight AC chair car coaches and two pantry cars.
5. Gatimaan is seen more as a breakthrough in traffic management than a technological marvel. The Railways have put in place several time-saving measures – such as fixing its departure from Hazrat Nizamuddin station (instead of the more crowded New Delhi terminal) and doing away with midway stoppages – to ensure that it makes good time.
6. The new train is a nod to the future of rail travel in India, with each compartment featuring railway hosts and hostesses who greet passengers by presenting them with a rose bud. The train has hotspot entertainment options, besides bio-toilets, LED lights and micro-busters for providing good fragrance. The Railways have tied up with an IT firm called My Free TV, which provides free WiFi and offline video-on-demand services to passengers. The train’s compartments sport paintings depicting places of historical importance in Delhi and Agra.
7. The Railways have made a big effort to enhance catering services. The transporter has tied up with a firm called Travel Food Services, which also caters to airlines operating from Terminal-3 of Palam airport. Passengers will be asked to choose between Indian and continental food, and a health menu option is also on the cards. The food – which will include freshly cut fruits – comes in trolleys.
8. Two packages – of one and two days’ duration – have been put on offer, with different rates for domestic and foreign passengers. Those opting for these packages will be taken on a guided tour of historical places, including the Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri.
9. A product of the Make in India initiative, the train was indigenously built at an estimated cost of Rs 50 crore at the Kapurthala rail coach factory.
10. Gatimaan, hailed as India’s first semi-high speed train, is likely to be introduced on eight other routes across the country soon.