The air-conditioned chair car will lug 70 per cent more passengers than usual coach of Shatabdi and Brindavan

The Chennai-Bangalore Double Decker AC train announced in the Railway Budget is likely to rollout by December-January touting several additional safety features and passenger amenities.

However, though you will have more people for company on board this new train, the Shatabdi Express will continue to be your best choice to reach Bangalore faster. While the running time between the two cities is about six hours for the double decker, the Shatabdi races across the 362 km in just under five hours.

According to an official at the Rail Coach Factory (RCF), Kapurthala, the coach composition to the Chennai-Bangalore section would be 17 coaches that include a 13-car rake and four spare coaches. The standard rake would have 11 Air-conditioned Double Decker Chair Cars and two Brake Van-cum-Luggage-cum power cars.

The trademark red-and-yellow stainless steel LHB chassis has been built on an anti-climbing technology template that ensures that the crashworthy coaches do not pile up in case of a mishap. An overall reduction in weight is also expected to boost fuel efficiency.

The Chennai-Bangalore Double Decker Express (daily) will have a seating capacity of 120 persons per coach that is partitioned into upper deck (50), lower deck (48) and normal (22) sections. Passengers enter the coach at normal levels on the platform and proceed to allotted seats on the upper or lower sections. The passenger carriage capacity is almost 70 per cent more than the seats on a coach of the Shatabdi (78) or the Brindavan Express (73).

Though the fare for the new train is yet to be formalised, an estimated fare of about Rs.370 — a ticket for the Delhi-Jaipur train costs Rs.347 for a distance of 303 km — could make travelling on the double decker chair car to Bangalore cheaper than the Shatabdi (Rs.510) or the Brindavan (Rs.386).

The actual velocity of the train would depend on track conditions, an RCF official said. From the experience of similar double-deckers introduced in other sectors, at high speed the train is expected to clock about 160 kph along some stretches.

While double deckers were operational in the Indian Railways decades ago before being shunted away to oblivion, what sets apart the new trains are passenger comfort utilities and state-of-the-art safety features.

Some of the features include a GPS-based Passenger Information System that scrolls real-time running position, train speed and distance to the next station, quickly operable emergency windows, air suspension system and multiple shock absorbers for a smooth ride and fire extinguishers in all coaches.

The coaches will also have a controlled discharge toilet system that discharges wastes only on attaining a speed of 45 kph.

According to the new timetable of Southern Railway, Train No.22625 Chennai Central- Bangalore AC Double Decker Express will leave here at 7.25 a.m. and reach Bangalore at 1.30 p.m. while Train No.22626 will leave Bangalore at 2.40 p.m. and arrive at 8.45 p.m. The stoppages are at Perambur (up direction only), Arakkonam, Katpadi, Ambur, Jolarpettai, Bangarapet, Krishnarajapuram and Bangalore Cantonment.

The first of these modern RCF-produced double decker trains were first introduced on the Howrah-Dhanbad section followed by Delhi-Jaipur a few days ago. Apart from the Chennai-Bangalore section, the other Double Decker routes proposed are Mumbai-Ahmedabad and Bhopal-Indore, officials said.