Thanks to the indifference of our MPs, the ‘Duronto', billed as the fastest train between Visakhapatnam and Secunderabad, is yet to get on track more than a year after it was announced in the last budget. Five of the nine Durontos, announced in the last budget, are already on the run and those observing the developments feel that political clout was responsible for the timely launch of these trains. There is a huge demand for trains from the Steel City to Hyderabad all through the year and the demand shoots up further during the summer vacation. The launch of the Duronto would have provided welcome relief to passengers to travel in air-conditioned comfort. While railway officials attribute the undue delay in the launch of the train to the non-availability of rake, the million dollar question is: how could other States get the advanced Linke Holfmann Bush (LHB) rakes?
The LHB rakes are being manufactured at the Rail Coach Factory (RCF) at Kapurtala with technology from Germany. These coaches are lighter in weight than conventional ones and are wide-bodied. They can be used for speeds ranging between 160 and 200 km/ph as against 120 km/ph for conventional rakes. It was announced that the Visakhapatnam-Secunderabad Duronto would cover the distance of 701 km in 9 hours and 25 minutes, making it the fastest train between the two cities.
Railway coaches are being manufactured at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Perambur and the RCF. The ICF manufactures only conventional coaches while the RCF manufactures around 60 per cent LHB coaches and the remaining conventional coaches. “There is, no doubt, a mismatch between demand and production with the RCF turning out only one coach a day. Over 50 per cent of the LHB coaches are going to those States in which the Ministers and MPs lobby hard,” informed sources, who feel that the allotment of rakes should be done in a transparent manner, said.
The old rakes of Rajdhani and other important express trains were being replaced with LHB s increasing the demand – supply gap further. The Bangalore – Nizamuddin Rajdhani daily was given four LHB rakes and the Patna – Delhi Sampurna Kranthi Express was also given LHBs recently. The Pune – Ahmedabad and Mumbai – Hazrat Nizamuddin Durontos were launched recently.
“The Visakhapatnam - Secunderabad would be run by the South Central Railway and it is for them (SCR) to secure the LHB rakes,” Divisional Railway Manager N. Kashinath told The Hindu, when asked for his comments on the delay.