Service much faster than Rajdhani Express

Two non-stop air-conditioned Duronto trains, one from Chennai to Madurai and the other to Thiruvananthapuram, are likely to be operational next week.

According to railway officials, the authorities are in consultation with the State Government to finalise formal launch date to flag off the trains.

The Duronto services were listed in the new trains announced in the Railway Budget 2011-12. A Railway Board notification was received at the Southern Railway headquarters on November 21 with the stipulation that the services be launched within ten days, a deadline that has been missed.

The rakes for the two bi-weekly trains are being given final touches at the Basin Bridge yard. The application of vinyl wrapping for the coaches is over and work on the interiors is apace, sources say. The vinyl wrapping gives a glossy feel and is as distinctive as the yellow-green livery of the Duronto trains.

On the flip side, modern LHB coaches have not been provided for these trains. The Duronto services to Madurai and Thiruvananthapuram will have coaches previously used on the Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani trains, the sources say.

Duronto services are much faster than hitherto speed kings Rajdhani Express trains. This is because the Duronto trains run point-to-point with only one or two ‘technical stops’ en route. There is only one fare stage for each class of travel.

The Duronto trains are obviously targeted at travellers who have a need for speed. The running time to Thiruvananthapuram on the Duronto is only about 13 hours whereas other trains take over 15 hours.

However, the overnight Duronto train to Madurai, unlike other trains to this destination that depart from Chennai Egmore, takes the usual eight-and-a-half hours running time of most other services.

If one were to go by the experience of the Chennai-Coimbatore Duronto introduced in 2011, travel is not only faster but cheaper too. For instance, a first AC ticket on the Chennai-Coimbatore Duronto costs only Rs. 1,465 as against Rs. 1,535 on the Chennai-Mangalore Express.

According to an official, both the new Duronto trains will have an identical coach composition of one First AC, three second AC and nine third AC coaches. The overnight train to Thiruvananthapuram will have an additional coach as pantry car.

While the number of coaches on the Madurai train is scalable by another seven coaches on demand, the coaches of the train to Thiruvananthapuram can be augmented by another six coaches during peak season, says an official.

The Chennai-Madurai Duronto will leave here at 10.30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays and reach Madurai Jn. at 7 a.m. In the return direction, it will leave Madurai at 10.40 p.m. and arrive on Wednesdays and Fridays at 7.10 a.m.

The Chennai-Thiruvananthapuram Duronto will leave here at 4.30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays and reach Thiruvananthapuram at 5.15 a.m. In the return direction it will leave at 9.40 p.m. and arrive in Chennai at 10.15 a.m.