Two non-stop air-conditioned Duronto trains from Chennai, one to Madurai and the other to Thiruvananthapuram, will be flagged off on December 15.
The Duronto services were listed in the new trains announced in the Railway Budget 2011-12.
A Railway Board notification on the Duronto trains was received at Southern Railway headquarters on November 21 with the stipulation that the services be launched within ten days — a deadline long gone.
Chief Minister Jayalalithaa is expected to flag off the two new trains, additional general manager (Southern Railway), G. Narayanan, told The Hindu.
The rakes for the two bi-weekly trains are being given final touches at the Basin Bridge yard. The application of vinyl wrapping for the coaches is over and work on the interiors is apace, sources said. The vinyl wrapping that gives a glossy feel is as distinctive as the yellow-green livery of the Duronto class of trains.
However, on the flip side, modern LHB coaches have not been provided for these trains. The Duronto services to Madurai and Thiruvananthapuram will have coaches previously used on the Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani trains, an official said.
Duronto services are much faster than the Rajdhani Express trains. This is because the Duronto trains run point-to-point with only one or two ‘technical stoppages’ en route. There is also just a one-fare stage for each class of travel.
The Duronto trains are obviously targeted at travellers with a need for speed.
By way of illustration, the running time to Thiruvananthapuram on Duronto is only about 13 hours whereas other trains take over 15 hours. However, the overnight Duronto train to Madurai , like other trains to this destination from Egmore, takes the usual eight-and-a-half hours running time.
And, if one were to go by the experience of the Chennai-Coimbatore Duronto that was introduced in 2011, travel is not only faster but cheaper too on the new train. For instance, a first AC ticket on the Chennai-Coimbatore Duronto costs only Rs. 1,465 as against the Rs. 1,535 a ticket costs on the Chennai-Mangalore Express.
According to an official, both the new Duronto trains will have an identical coach composition of one first-AC, three second-AC and nine third-AC coaches. The overnight train to Thiruvananthapuram will have an additional coach as pantry car.
While the number of coaches on the Madurai train is scalable by another seven coaches on demand, the coaches on the train to Thiruvananthapuram can be augmented by another six coaches during peak season, the official said.
The Chennai-Madurai Duronto will leaves here at 10.30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays and reach Madurai Junction at 7 a.m. In the return direction, it will leave Madurai at 10.40 p.m. and arrive on Wednesdays and Fridays at 7.10 a.m. It will operate via Erode, Karur and Dindigul.
The Chennai-Thiruvananthapuram Duronto will leave here at 4.30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays and reach Thiruvananthapuram at 5.15 a.m., while in the return direction, it will leave at 9.40 p.m. and arrive in Chennai at 10.15 a.m.
The rakes of the Duronto Express trains have been stabled at the Basin Bridge Junction yard. Chief Mechanical Engineer S.K. Sood who inspected the rakes on Friday said the trains were fit for operation at a speed of 110 kmph.
(With inputs from S. Vijay Kumar)