New Delhi: Heralding a new era of semi-high speed trains in the country, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Tuesday flagged off the first such train which will cover the 200km distance between Delhi and Agra in 100 minutes.
Train hostesses welcomed passengers with roses on board the Gatiman Express, which will have a maximum speed of 160km per hour, as music floated in the air at Nizamuddin station from where the train embarked on its maiden journey.
"It is a happy occasion for us as the first semi-high speed train Gatiman starts today. We want to increase speed of all trains whether ordinary or express as part of our 'raftar' mission. It is not an easy task. It will take time but we have made a plan," Prabhu said. Painted in royal blue and grey colour combination with a yellow strip in between, the train has another first - train hostesses to welcome passengers and Indian and continental food.
Equipped with a 5,500 HP electric locomotive, two Executive AC Chair Cars and eight AC Chair Car coaches, the train has a high-power emergency braking system, automatic fire alarm, GPS-based passenger information system and sliding doors in the coaches.
The passenger amenities have been enhanced by providing better catering service, improved coach interiors with wide windows, bio-toilets besides free multimedia services enabling passengers to view movies, news and cartoons during their journey to Agra.
Photographs of tourist spots in around Agra adorn the coaches. Hotspot devices have been installed at coaches to enable passengers to access multimedia services free of cost directly on their smartphones, tablets or laptops. The coaches have also been fitted with balanced draft gear couplers for reducing jerks and ensuring a smooth ride.
However, all these improved facilities have resulted in the increased fare in Gatiman as against the existing Shatabdi fare for the same distance. The fare for AC Chair Car is Rs 750 whereas it is Rs1,500 for Executive AC Chair Car.
In the Shatabdi Express, the chair car fare is Rs540 and Rs1,040 for Executive Class. No concessions are admissible in the Gatiman train.
The 12050 Nizamuddin-Agra-Nizamuddin Gatiman Express will run six days a week except on Fridays in both the directions.
According to the schedule, the train will start its journey from Nizamuddin at 8.10am to reach Agra at 9.50am. In the return, the Gatiman Express will depart from Agra at 5.50pm to reach Nizamuddin at 7.30pm.
Eyeing the tourism potential of the train, IRCTC has finalised tour packages involving bus service, sightseeing and lunch at Agra for tourists to coincide with the time table of this Gatiman Express. Railways plans to roll out such trains on nine more routes including Kanpur-Delhi, Chandigarh-Delhi, Hyderabad-Chennai, Nagpur-Bilaspur, Goa-Mumbai and Nagpur-Secunderabad.