The Amritsar-Chandigarh Superfast, with halts at Jalandhar and Ludhiana, has become a popular train, particularly with those who want to return home the same day after finishing their work in the Punjab government offices or the Punjab and Haryana high court in Chandigarh.
This is in contrast to the Amritsar-Chandigarh Duronto Express that was started amid great fanfare last year. With halts only at Amritsar and Chandigarh, the Duranto with the mounting losses became a liability for the railways. On September 11, it was named the Amritsar-Chandigarh Superfast with halts at Ludhiana and Jalandhar.
The decision to change the name was taken by the railways ministry on passenger demand and to facilitate halts at stations other than Amritsar and Chandigarh. The Punjab government, too, had taken up this issue with the railway ministry on public demand. The name was changed as Durantos are non-stop trains, running from origin to destination.
With two additional halts in-between, the Superfast became financially viable for the railways as it picks up a substantial number of passengers from Jalandhar and Ludhiana. Around 1,000 seats were going empty (both ways) daily on board the Duranto and the estimated per day loss to the railways was around Rs 1.5 lakh, according to official records.
"However, the Superfast, by the time it reaches Chandigarh, is around 80% full with passengers, a majority of whom are those who have got work in government offices or in the high court. On its return journey the train is almost 70% full as a few people travel by bus as the train reaches Amritsar quite late," said a railway official here on Wednesday while pointing out that they were still to calculate the passenger traffic for the one month that the train has been in operation.
Demand for halt at Mohali
CPI district secretary Amarjit Singh Asal is of the view that a halt at Mohali could rake in more revenue for the railways. He said a number of persons who had work in Punjab government offices in Mohali still preferred to travel by bus.
"A person going to Mohali does not prefer the train as the Chandigarh railway station is located on the other side of the city. So it is more convenient for him to take a bus. A halt at Mohali will also save time even for those going for work to a office in Chandigarh," Asal told HT.
The CPI leader said as the Amritsar-Chandigarh Superfast had become popular, the railways should introduce a Chandigarh-Amritsar Superfast, with the same halts.
The Superfast leaves Amritsar at 5.20am and reaches Chandigarh at 9.45am. On its return journey, the train leaves Chandigarh at 6.50pm and reaches Amritsar at 11.15pm.