Keeping her railway budget promise of introducing non-stop air-conditioned ‘Duranto’ trains that would connect metropolitan cities within shortest possible time, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee flagged off the first Duranto Express between Sealdah and New Delhi here on Friday.
A technical glitch, however, delayed the inaugural journey by half an hour as power supply to the train’s engine was cut off due to the presence of a foreign object on the overhead wire, leading to the stoppage of the train at Dankuni.
An Eastern Railway spokesperson said: “The pantograph of the train’s engine got entangled with some foreign element, prima facie wire used for flying kites, lying on the overhead wire. It caused failure of power supply to the engine and forced the train to stop until the entangled object was taken out.”
Projected to be the fastest train in the country, Duranto Express is scheduled to reach New Delhi from Sealdah in 16 hours 20 minutes — almost two hours ahead of the Rajdhani Express.
Emphasising on the railway’s requirement of having both “long-term” and “short-term” policy, keeping in view the increasing number of passengers and amenities provided to them, Ms. Banerjee admitted to the shortage of rakes in comparison to the number of trains.
“Many new trains are being introduced but there are not enough coaches to support. I request the people to have patience till new coaches arrive from the workshops,” she said.
Reiterating her call for development, Ms. Banerjee indirectly slammed Communist Party of India (Marxist) leaders for blocking rail track in several parts of West Bengal, which according to her, was blocking the path of development.
Calling the Duranto Express “a new idea, a new theme, a new vision,” Ms. Banerjee said the service in other metropolitan cities would begin soon.
“While the Duranto between Chennai and New Delhi will be flagged off on September 21, we cannot start the Mumbai-Howrah service right now as the Assembly elections are coming up in Maharashtra. Preparations of starting another Duranto from Bangalore are on the way,” she said.