Service to start, once the Commissioner of Railway Safety clears the vehicle
With the arrival of coaches from the Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala, the much-awaited Chennai-Bangalore AC Double-Decker Train could be on the tracks soon. The 14-coach rake stationed at the Basin Bridge yard for interior works includes 12 passenger coaches, brake van-cum-luggage-power car and pantry.
More than just novelty value, the AC double-decker train with seat clusters on upper and lower decks boasts of a superior economies of scale hauling 120 passengers per chair car, which is almost 70 per cent more than the carriage capacity of the Shatabdi (78) or the Brindavan Express (73).
For passengers always confronted with wait-listed tickets on the congested Chennai-Bangalore route, this train offers a much larger pool of about 1,500 seats up for reservation. “The tariff structure is being worked out and we expect to operate the service, once the Commissioner of Railway Safety clears the vehicle,” Southern Railway sources said.
Though the train was announced in the 2012-13 Railway Budget it is unlikely to roll out before Union Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal presents his maiden Budget for 2013-14 on February 26.
The trademark red-and-yellow stainless steel LHB chassis has been built at the RCF 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.
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.
Southern Railway had already delayed the timing of the Brindavan Express to accommodate the double-decker. In the new timetable, the 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.
Basin Bridge depot will undertake the primary maintenance for the train as there is just about time for a platform turnaround at Bangalore.
The stoppages are at Perambur (up direction only), Arakkonam, Katpadi, Ambur, Jolarpettai, Bangarapet, Krishnarajapuram and Bangalore Cantonment.
Given the running time of six hours for the double-decker to cover the 362 km length, the Shatabdi will still be the fastest option which makes the distance in a matter of under five hours.
Though the fare for the new train is yet to be formalised, an estimated fare of about Rs. 420 to Rs. 430 — deduced from the Rs. 395 it costs for a chair car ticket on the Delhi-Jaipur double-decker for a distance of 303 km — could make travelling on the double-decker chair car to Bangalore cheaper than the Shatabdi (Rs. 565) or the Brindavan (Rs. 440).