CHENNAI: One more super-fast train, the non-stop Duronto Express, was added to the Chennai-Delhi route on Monday.
It leaves Chennai Central on Mondays and Thursdays at 6.40 a.m. and reaches Nizamuddin at 10.35 a.m. the next day, on Tuesdays and Fridays. In the return direction, it leaves Nizamuddin at 4 p.m. and arrives here at 8.10 p.m. (Departure from Nizamuddin on Tuesdays has been announced, but the second day remains unannounced.)
Flagging off the train amidst the early morning peak-hour arrivals at Chennai Central, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee had accepted the request to increase the frequency of the train to twice weekly.
A Chennai-Delhi one-way trip will cost Rs.2,530 (air-conditioned two-tier) on the Duronto. (On the Rajdhani it will cost Rs.2,625 and on the Tamil Nadu/GT Express trains Rs.1,960). On the Duronto and the Rajdhani, the cost of food is included in the fare. In air-conditioned three-tier, the cost will be Rs.1,925 (Duronto), Rs.2,005 (Rajdhani) and Rs. 1,429 (T.N./G.T.). A sleeper-class journey will cost Rs.760 on the Duronto and Rs.528 on the T.N./G.T. Express trains.
Despite being a non-stop train with upgraded stainless steel capable of doing 130 kmph (the steel makes the coaches lighter by about two tonnes each), the Duronto manages to only marginally shave off the time taken to reach Delhi. It takes almost 28 hours to cover the 2,177-km stretch (27 hours and 55 minutes), compared to 28 hours and 10 minutes on the Rajdhani, 33 hours on the Tamil Nadu Express and 35 on the G.T. Express.
It is for the first time that sleeper coaches are available in a train with such speeds. The coaches are longer than the conventional ones and have 72 berths (in air-conditioned three-tier) and 78 berths (sleeper class). There are added safety features like auto-closing vestibule doors (in the event of a fire, each coach gets sealed) and better thermal and sound insulation. Southern Railway General Manager M.S. Jayanth said the design makes it possible for the coaches to be operated at 130 kmph as against 110 kmph permitted for conventional mail and express trains. “When the Chennai-New Delhi track gets upgraded, the speed of the Duronto Express will be increased, enabling a further saving of two more hours,” he said.
The new train takes the number of trains operating between Chennai Central and Delhi to seven. Two more are operated from Chennai Egmore.
Of these, only the Chennai-New Delhi Tamil Nadu and Grand Trunk Express trains run daily. The Chennai-Jammu Tawi Express runs three days a week, while the Rajdhani Express to Nizamuddin and the Gharib Rath run two days a week. The Chennai-Dehradun Express is weekly.