Special Correspondent

Lalu flags off the third "Garib Rath" between Delhi and Mumbai

NEW DELHI: Railway Minister Lalu Prasad on Thursday asserted that the railway budget would give a new direction to the Railways and indicated that more fully air-conditioned `Garib Raths' linking State capitals were likely to be introduced in the next fiscal.

"I have already made it clear that we would be introducing more "Garib Raths" depending on the success of four such trains already plying,'' he said while flagging off the third "Garib Rath" between Delhi and Mumbai.

Ministers of State for Railway R. Velu and Naran Bhai J. Rathwa, Railway Board Chairman, J.P. Batra, Member Traffic of the Board S.B. Ghosh Dastidar and the Northern Railway General manager, V.N. Mathur, were present.

The schedule

The Garib Rath Express (2909/2910) will reach Mumbai on Friday at 8.05 a.m., passing through Kota, Ratlam, Vadodara, Surat and Borivali. The air-conditioned three-tier journey will cost only Rs. 667, which is almost 40 per cent less than the AC fare of other trains. The AC chair car journey will cost Rs. 552 only.

The train will depart from Nizamuddin on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. It will start from the Bandra Terminus on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

The AC sleeper coach of the "Garib Rath" has a capacity of 75 berths, instead of the usual 64 and the chair car has a capacity of 102 seats. The temperature inside the coach will be maintained at 27 to 28 degree Celsius so that the need for bedrolls will not arise. The coaches are capable of running at a speed of 130 kmph.

Mr. Prasad said it was his endeavour to provide more amenities and services to rail passengers.

Referring to the Samjhauta Express blasts, he said several measures had been taken to tighten security at stations and on running trains. Mr. Prasad, who turned up on Wednesday night to supervise the departure of the Samjhauta Express to Pakistan from the Old Delhi Railway Station, asked people to keep a strict watch on any unclaimed baggage lying in compartments and on the movement of suspicious persons.

Two "Garib Rath" trains between Delhi and Patna and between Saharsa and Amritsar are already in operation providing luxury travel to the middle-class and the lower middle-class segments.