Excitement grips passengers and those who came to see them off. On its inaugural run, it was flagged off not by a ‘neta’ or a senior official, but by Abdul Rehman, a train lighting helper.

Practically every one of the 350-odd passengers was getting himself/herself photographed with his/her near and dear ones, with the colourful train serving as the backdrop, as the electric locomotive blew its horn before beginning its journey, early on Tuesday morning.

As South Central Railway’s first air-conditioned, chair-car, double-decker superfast express to Guntur left Kacheguda, there were cheers all around. For most of those on platform no. 4, those who boarded the train and those who came to see them off, the sight of a double-decker train was a first time experience and hence the high-level excitement.

It was driven by loco pilot Karimullah, who has 18 years of experience behind the locomotive wheel and assistant loco pilot Ramakrishna (three years). On its inaugural run, it was flagged off not by a ‘neta’ or a senior official, but by Abdul Rehman, a train lighting helper, as he would retire from service this month-end. With the model code of conduct in force, inaugural by a Minister or a political leader was ruled out. A senior official informed that SCR’s General Manager P.K. Srivastava wanted the inauguration of this train to be done differently.

Schedule

The Kacheguda-Guntur train no. 22118 will leave on Tuesdays and Fridays at 5.30 a.m. and reach at 10.40 a.m. with halts at Malkajgiri, Nalgonda, Miryalaguda and Piduguralla. On the return, no. 22117 will leave Guntur at 12.45 p.m. and reach Kacheguda at 5.55 p.m. The 10-rake train can carry 120 passengers in each, totalling to a whopping 1,200 passengers, the equivalent of 55 to 60 trains.

Starting from Wednesday, the same rake will leave for Tirupati at 6.45 a.m. and return by Thursday night, in time for its run to Guntur on Friday, said Chief Public Relations Officer K. Sambasiva Rao, pointing out that the rake would be used to its optimum, with eight services, four each to Guntur and Tirupati. “Depending upon the patronage, we will work out how to expand our service,” he said.

The unique selling proposition of the rake is that for the first time in Indian Railways, it comes with VESDA (Very Early Smoke/Fire Detection with Alarm System). There are 17 sensors at different points in each coach for the purpose. Each chair-car coach can seat 120 persons and as against the conventional chair-car coaches that cost Rs. 1.54 crore each, the new ones cost a whopping Rs. 2.86 crore each. The fare to Guntur is Rs. 415 and Rs. 720 for Tirupati.

Meanwhile, the members of the Suburban Train and Bus Travellers’ Association, Malkajgiri welcomed the newly-introduced Kacheguda-Guntur superfast double-decker train on Tuesday at Malkajgiri railway station. The Association members thanked the railway authorities for arranging stoppage at Malkajgiri and also requested the Rail Vikas Nigam Limited authorities to call fresh tenders for MMTS Phase 2.