Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee’s dream train, the Duronto Express, has arrived in Mumbai. Stabled at the Mazgaon yard, the hi-tech train will run non-stop between Mumbai and Howarh, a first in India.
The existing fast train on that route, the Gitanjali Express, covers the same length of 1,968 km with 22 stops in about 30 hours and 30 minutes. The Duronto Express will cut travel time on that route by two to three hours.
These trains will not strictly be non-stop — there will be a number of technical and operational stops for change of engine and crew and replenishment of supplies. Tickets for these trains will not be issued from stations other than their point of origin.
The swank new trains will mostly run on routes that have high passenger density; the details, including their timing and fare structure, are currently being worked out.
Made of stainless steel, the coaches are lightweight and will have superior aesthetics, better ride quality and low maintenance costs.
These hybrid coaches, being manufactured at Rail Coach Factory in Kapurthala, will reportedly have 12 per cent more seating capacity.
Railway experts say non-stop trains between big metros could prove to be the biggest challenge to low-cost airlines. Banerjee had announced the Duronto Express in her rail budget this July.
The Duronto will have air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned sleepers, and will run non-stop from point to point between select cities across the country.
These trains – non-stop between origin and destination — are the first such in the Indian Railways’ history.
Banerjee had plans to start the train from Durga Puja day on September 18, but that was ruled out due to the model code of conduct now in force in Maharashtra.
The train will likely be flagged off once the Assembly elections are done.